Post-run recovery: this is why you have to do it every time
We all do it. You go for your morning or afternoon run and hurry through a warm-down without going through a proper post-run recovery routine. Time is of the essence, and the runner’s high you feel after a training session convinces you that your body is in prime condition.
Enter, the dreaded injury, which puts you out of action for weeks on end.
A proper routine post-run can really mean the difference between being injury-prone and out of the running game you adore, and ensuring your training is constant and your fitness is always improving.
Here are some quick tips to help you set up and keep a healthy post-run recovery routine.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all
All runners are different and, whether you run competitively or just for the fun of it, you’ll have to figure out what works for you. Depending on where you are in the running season will also influence how you recover after a training session.
However, the following hints are useful to all runners, no matter whether you are an amateur or a professional.
1. Start recovering during your run
The way you plan your run will already set the tone for your post-run recovery.
Many runners suggest a workout that looks like a bell-curve: stretch, start slowly with a smooth walk, power up to your intended pace, and slow back down again.
It also helps to mix it up a bit in terms of terrain – a hilly run will work different muscles compared to runs on a flat terrain.
As injuries are often the result of repetition and overuse, varying your runs will work different muscles, whilst not putting too much strain on them.
2. Hydrate and refuel immediately
The first 30 minutes after a workout is prime time for refuelling your body and lessening strain on your tired muscles. You throw away crucial recovery time if you wait until you’re home and have taken a shower after gym or going on a run.
It is advisable to keep an electrolyte drink in the car so you can have it straight after training.
Remember to refuel with a drink that has a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein.
3. Roll it out
Active, isolated stretching and rolling out tired muscles with a foam roller helps you to focus on problem areas or nagging pains, and sort them out before they become full-blown injuries.
Investing in a simple foam roller promotes circulation and gives you the opportunity to self-massage after every run.
4. Keep it cool
All runners are familiar with the injury-recovery acronym “RICE”, short for rest, ice, compression and elevation. The acronym is useful for normal post-run recovery as well, though.
Icing muscles directly after training helps to speed up muscle recovery. An ice bath is the ideal here, although an ice pack on fatigued muscles will also do the trick.
Wearing compression gear aids recovery of your muscles after every workout. Check out our range of recovery compression clothing.
5. Watch what you put in your mouth
A healthy diet is an integral part of a good daily recovery routine.
For athletes, 1.5 grams of carbohydrates for every kilogram of body weight is the recommended post-workout. This can be complimented with 0.3 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of fat per kilogram of body weight within two hours after working out.
Of course, the intensity of your workout will also determine what you need to eat after training, and here your discretion is advised. In this regard, try to stick with fresh fruit and vegetables, balanced with healthy carbohydrates.
6. Sleep well
Many experts advise that runners get at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, with a nap during the day if possible.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an early riser or get started a little later, as long as you set up and stick to a routine that your body gets used to.
Most important of all: listen to your body. If you notice a little niggle while you’re running, don’t ignore it. If it becomes painful, stop. You’d rather cut a workout short than cause an injury that will prevent you from exercising regularly.