Recover from Hard Running
It’s time to recover from that hard run you just did! Whether you’re recovering from a long run or a hard workout, you’ll want to implement the best strategies to get you back out the door for your next hard day! The goal, as always, is to minimize the DOMS – delayed onset of muscle soreness – that you’re likely going to feel.
Below are some superb ways we can help our sore muscles and get some much-needed relief so we can get back out there and do it all over again! You’d be surprised at how much benefit you can derive from implementing the strategies and tools I have below. In the comments, and on social, tell me what you do to recover and also what tips you’re going to implement now that you read this. Enjoy!
In my honest opinion, sleep (high quality and high quantity) is the BEST method for regeneration and recuperation from hard bouts of exercise. There is so much literature out there to show why sleep is so good for you. Take it from those who get lots of sleep (like me, 8+ hours a night), that sleep is so important for your health and your running.
Possibly the second biggest gain you can take from a hard workout is the nutrition you put back into your body. There’s a lot of information on the web and in the literature that suggests various methods to using nutrition for recovery.
Here’s my philosophy on nutrition and its role in recovery: the cleaner you eat, the healthier your body will operate. The healthier it operates, the more efficient it will become.
I’ve always had the motto: put crap [bad for you food] in, get crap [poor, less than 100%] out. It’s simple. Eat garbage, get a garbage performance.
In the last few years, there is no shortage of low and high tech advances to the recovery stratosphere. Some of the best that I personally use are compression socks, heart rate monitor, GPS, and massage therapy.
Compression socks are great. I have a variety of brands but love CEP. I wear each pair at different times during a training day.
On some days, I wake up and I’m just a bit sluggish and sore, so I throw on a pair.
On really hard workout days or a long long run day, I’ll wear compressions for the run.
And during high weeks of training and in the midst of a busy day, I throw on a pair of compression socks to help me aid in my recovery.
Heart Rate Monitors
In college, we wore HR monitors for workouts. We knew our max heart rate and trained based off of a percentage of our maximum. A tempo run for me was based on my numbers (168-172 beats per minute). My heart rate monitor (and my heart) told me how fast I could run. If I was well rested and in shape, that could be as fast as 5:10 pace or as slow as 5:20+. Basically, the more rested I was, the lower my heart rate was. If I had a low heart rate, I could work harder before my HR monitor beeped at me that I was going too fast.
GPS watches are on just about every single runner I know. I’ve said it in the past, GPS is the best and worst thing that’s happened to us. It’s a great tool if you can use it to make mid-run adjustments, but the worst thing if you use it as a barometer for each and every run you do.
Here are a few good posts I’ve written about GPS watches:
- 4 ways to keep your running effort honest
- Pacing – why it matters
- Creating a checklist (including charging your GPS watch) for races
- Using a GPS for tempo runs
Massage therapy has come a long way since I started running in 1999. We have all sorts of professionals who are really good at helping you recover, but we have also invented/produced a slew of great pieces of massage therapy that help us recover.
I swear by foam rolling, using a lacrosse ball, and using a massage stick for my main sources of massage therapy. There are unlimited options from the really cheap to the really expensive. A quick Google Search can assist you in that department.
I know that this part (the non-technology portion) of recovery is also a key piece of the whole recovery process. My thoughts are that this aspect is often overlooked because it’s not looked at as being “sexy” or shareable on social media.
In this category, I’d put recovery methods like Epsom salt bath, icing, rest days, meditation, or yoga. These are great tools to use but don’t really show up in the stats of running. It’s hard to quantify that 8 minutes of meditation increases your ability to focus during a long run or that a hot yoga session enabled you to have a looser, more efficient running gait. But it’s true, all of these intangibles add up to a sizeable chunk of recovery.
Again, easy days don’t usually get posted, shared, or celebrated because they are the ho-hum, day to day runs that aren’t “special”. But they are GREAT ways to support your recovery efforts from hard days. Whether you take to the roads or to cross-training, easy days support the work you do on your hard days.
Without easy days, our body would have no time to rest, recharge, recover or adapt to the training demands we’re placing on them. We NEED easy days. I find so many runners forgo easy because they feel that a slow easy jog will do nothing for their bottom line: running fast on race day. However, I urge all runners and athletes to implement easy days and stress them as major contributors to running fast. Without the easy, there can be no hard, so make sure your easy days are in fact EASY!