How to boost your post-run recovery
How is it we put so much emphasis on warming up, but little of us do the same after a workout? No matter your age, the recovery process is essential to optimise your overall performance. With the right method you can even be in a better position than you were the day before, even after a long run.
In this blog I want to share with you my recovery rituals that allow me to transition out of workout mode and to de-stress.
Trial & Error
What you must remember is that different people have different rituals. Some may decide to plunge into an ice water bath, some may have a chat with a friend and stretch, while others may have a lie down.
Trial and error is the best thing you can do to find out what works for you and your body. A certain suggestion or dosage may not be enough for you to reap the benefits, on the flip side they may be too high. It’s just a case of tweaking until it feels right for you so just be sure to listen to your body.
Today’s hustle culture can make it hard for athletes to fully appreciate the process of winding down, with people rushing from one commitment to another. Instead, embrace it, soak it up and encourage your mind and body to relax.
Despite my training being very much full on, this routine is something I believe anyone can learn to adopt into their everyday. Those relaxation moments can be crucial to your overall wellbeing and body recovery.
My Top 5 Recovery Activities
Stretching is something we’re all guilty of neglecting but your body will continue to be tight, even with minimal exertion. I encourage you to take the time, breathe into each stretch and over time gradually you’ll be able to push deeper into those positions and hold them for longer.
Get the stretch done straight after working out. Not only will your body thank you for it, but your general mood will also feel lifted and energised. Originally, start with 10 minutes of stretching and work yourself up, adding a minute here and there, until you feel comfortable. After all, it’s important to make it more palatable for you to enjoy!
It’s so important to refuel the body within 20-30 minutes post workout, followed by a main meal within the 2 hour period. For your post workout snack, focus on getting a mixture of protein and carbs.
These nutrients will help repair any damage caused during the run and help speed up the recovery process!
3. Refuel & Rehydrate
On a typical day I will drink around 3-4 litres of water, based on the level of exertion on the day. The bigger the session, the more water I will try to get in my body. At times I can be guilty of struggling to get through that much water, but I’ve learnt it’s key to replace all the water, minerals and electrolytes that you’ve sweated out during the time of being active.
Hydrating will be essential to allow your body to maintain balance, optimise your bodily functions and help prevent cramp.
4. Ice Bath
Yes, I can completely agree, this is not for everyone. After all, why on earth would someone want to lay in freezing ice cold water? Plus, it’s also not the most practical option either. For me though, it’s a real pivotal point in my recovery routine that I even look forward to.
I plan tub time to be 20-30 minutes post workout for the best results and always aim to withstand the cold between 5-15 minutes at a time. I am no Wim Hof, so my time can fluctuate depending on if I can get in the zone, but practise makes perfect!
Ice baths are a great way to to reduce inflammation and increase your recovery time. By sitting in the bath your blood vessels constrict, when you get out they dilate and open back up. It is this process that will help you flush away the metabolic waste and recover faster.
A good night’s rest has a direct influence on our physical and mental wellbeing. If we don’t sleep well at night or can’t get enough hours in, we can’t perform to our maximum capacity during the day.
Most importantly for recovery, you need to allow your body time to secrete muscle-building growth hormones, which happens during your sleep cycle. So try to hit the lights out before midnight. Without a doubt, your performance will be so much better for it and not only that, your energy levels and emotional wellbeing will thank you for it. I try to aim for 7- 9 hours of sleep a night, top athletes will aim closer to 9 hours.
So often people ask me why their performance is not improving. It can be down to multiple reasons, one of which I’m guilty of is over training.
For someone like me, who has battled with mental health for years now, training has always been a big outlet. Being able to switch off from the noise and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, in my eyes there’s nothing better. But what I continue to remind myself of is my level of intensity, training 5 days a week, couple of hours a day, can be at times unhelpful and leave you with negative results.
It’s so important to allow your body to heal from all the training, it’s no different from work. If your push your body like your brain then its inevitable that you will burn out. The more you stress the body, the higher you put it at risk of injury and your mind at risk of exhaustion. All in all, it will slow the recovery process and your performance.
Never feel guilty or lazy for taking a rest day, you’ve earned it. You owe it to yourself to make the most of the day, snooze the alarm, take it easy, have fun and remember that your goal isn’t out of sight, if anything this recovery day will make it all the more achievable.