Running is one of the greatest ways to get out and about and give yourself some time and space to clear your head and destress. Pushing your speed and grinding out the miles for a long run are all key aspects of the training process and important for improving. This all adds to the experience of the ‘runners high’ when your body and brain reward you with an influx of endorphins post run.
All this is amazing but as every runner knows with every ‘high’ there tends to be a low the next day. The feeling of struggling out of bed the next day with sore aching muscles and wondering why you put yourself through it? This doesn’t have to be the case, we can all add a few things to our routine which will have us jumping out of bed feeling fresh and ready to do it all again.
This post will walk (or jog) you through the key aspects to recovery. I know that we all live busy lives and might not be able to fit all of these in every time you go for a run. But if you can get in the habit of doing the essentials, hydration, stretching and refuelling, then you can save the extras for when you have more time or when you go the extra mile.
Here are 5 simple tricks to recovery which will have your muscles feeling strong and fresh after every run. No more dragging yourself out of bed wishing you hadn’t done it.
After a tough work out or a long run you should start by rehydrating within 10 -15 minutes after exercise. Even if it was cold outside or you didn’t feel that you pushed yourself too hard you will still produce a significant amount of sweat. That liquid needs to be replaced and quickly to avoid muscle soreness.
Use Lucozade’s fluid loss calculator to work out exactly how much liquid you should be replacing. For shorter runs water is great for rehydrating but we all know that it’s not that easy to drink a litre or more of water. Vit Stix are perfect to rehydrate with, a low calorie naturally flavoured squash drink with the added bonus of including 5 of the essential vitamins for runners. Those of us who are doing longer runs will know that we also need to replace lost salts. There are a few ways to do this you can use electrolyte powders, but these are generally expensive and taste horrible. I prefer to have a Vit Stix and mix in half a teaspoon of table salt. This way you get a tasty drink with all the same electrolytes in that costs half the price.
After you’ve hydrated, you can begin your stretching routine while also ingesting your post run snack. Protein is a key ingredient to assist muscle production and maintenance. Ensure you are incorporating a decent amount of protein into your diet so that your body can build muscle and overcome the pain. An easy way to get the correct post run nutrition is via a protein bar or ball this way you don’t have to overload on meat. You should be aiming for a snack with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. Couple this with Vit Stix which are packed full of Zinc, a natural muscle inflammatory and you can wave goodbye to those mornings of sore muscles and stiff joints.
Stretching is essential to the recovery process helping to work out those niggles and flush out toxins which are often stored in your muscles. Stretching should begin within 25-30 minutes of finishing your run and last around 10-15 minutes. Focus on the major muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips) as well as anything that is nagging or felt sore on the run.
Using a resistance band can be a great way to stretch out those most effected muscle groups (hamstrings and hips). Try using running specific stretching routines on you tube. If you have a foam roller and are experiencing any small injuries, it would be beneficial to roll out those areas to alleviate any knots and tightness.
Hot Bath with Epsom Salts
Okay I know not all of us will have the time to do this after every run. But if you have been pushing particularly hard or want to bounce back quickly after a long run then this is a great and relaxing little trick.
About 60-90 minutes before bed, you should take a warm/hot bath in Epsom salts. Combine 4 cups Epsom salt with 1 cup baking soda and relax in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. After your bath roll out your muscles with a foam roller and do a light stretching session. Not only will this help remove toxins stored in the muscles, but stretching will ensure that you wake up feeling fresh and loose. Plus, the relaxing bath and the Epsom salts will help you get to sleep.
As a result of strenuous training and muscle tiredness, we become tighter. The recovery process therefore should involve increasing mobility of different joints and muscle groups with limited strain. A great way to do this is Yoga, stretching your muscles and increasing joint mobility whilst engaging the body in light exercise. Yoga can be done from home, check out Yoga with Adriene or 5 Parks Yoga for some fab home routines. Alternatively, consider using Move GB which gives you access to loads of classes across the UK – giving you the ability to try something new whilst increasing flexibility and aiding recovery.
Muscle tiredness and sore joints can be a real pain when trying to stick to those training plans. But with a few simple changes to your routine you can begin to wave goodbye to stiff mornings when you just don’t feel right. Try to start doing all 5 recovery tips as often as possible but I appreciate this might not be possible after every run. So, stick to the 3 most important, hydration, refuelling and stretching then add in muscle mobility and a relaxing bath when you can. Even if you only do the other 2 once a month you will improve your overall recovery time and feel great in no time.
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