The Best Strategies Recover from a Run
5 of the Best Tips for Recovering as Fast as Possible Between Runs
I’ve written about the best strategies to recover from a run. Most of those tips include what you can do over a long period of time. For example, getting 8+ hours of sleep is really, really important to recover. Having a nutritious meal can also play a big role in how fast you recover. Luckily for us, researchers have found that there’s this “magic window” of time right after we finish a workout that, if capitalized on, can boost our performance!
The first 30 minutes after a workout are THE most important if we want to do our best to recover properly for our next workout. By maximizing those first 30 minutes, we can not only reap the benefits of the workout we just finished but also set ourselves up for having a killer next workout. According to Matt Fitzgerald, writing for MapMyRun’s blog said, “that postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis proceeded 44% faster, and protein synthesis in the exercised muscles 300% faster.” Basically, the quicker you get food back into your system after a workout, the faster your muscles will recover.
When you have muscles that recover quicker, you can be more consistent with your training over a long period of time. This consistency is what will propel you to newer heights of your fitness.
Since those first 30 minutes are so crucial to recovery, I did some research into what some of the best in the running industry do to recover in those magical minutes following a workout.
It’s my belief that if a professional runner believes in a specific form of recovery, that we should all take notice. These pros do this day in and day out – some are running over 100 miles every single week! They spend a lot of money, time and resources making sure they are properly recovered following a run – and for good reason!
For us to be at our best every single day, we have to make sure we are taking care of everything we can! Below, I’m going to outline what the best methods of recovery are within the first 30 minutes of finishing a workout.
I think by now, scientists have made it quite appealing how important those first 30 minutes are. They have outlined what is best to consume for recovery and why it’s so important.
What I think is the biggest take away is this: we need to plan ahead. No longer is it acceptable to “forget” to eat right away. No longer is it fine to skip a meal because we were busy. It’s just not. Not for normal people and especially not for endurance athletes.
Have a snack prepared before you leave for your run. At worst, have a bar ready. I’m a huge fan of Clif bars. They make so many different flavors with different blends of protein. My favorite is anything with chocolate in it. But we need to be ready to refuel as soon as we’re done.
I recently listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast where he had on LeBron James. This episode is a must-listen-to episode. I liked LBJ from afar before this, I LOVE LeBron after listening to him and what he does to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally to play basketball every night.
At the end of the day, our body is the vessel in which we travel. If we are fueling it (or not fueling it at all) with poorly-thought-out foods, well, we’re going to get some rough seas to travel through.
After we pop some food in and get the nutrition aspect rolling, pop onto a floor or mat and do 10 minutes of stretching. Static stretching is fine; using a rope or band is going to help the range of motion even more. Owen Walker, writing for the Science for Sport in an article called Post Exercise Stretching said, “stretching after exercise reduces muscle soreness.” Don’t neglect stretching because you don’t have time for it. If you’re really pressed for time, do some light stretching in the shower or cut your run 10 minutes short. It’s worth it!
“Motion is Lotion”
Nothing says recovery like a good foam rolling session. Foam rolling is basically a deep tissue massage and we all know how good they are for you! Spend 5-10 minutes rolling out your major muscles: hamstrings, quads, calves, IT bands, and back. Boom. Good to go.
On top of foam rolling, massage sticks are amazing to use on harder to reach spots or when you’re traveling and on the go. Lacrosse balls can be used very similarly, however, I love them for the bottom of my feet and for getting into hard to reach spots like my glutes.
I’m a big believer of drinking half my body weight in fluid ounces every day. For me, it’s roughly 75 ounces of water and I’m sure I come close to that, if not over that, every day. After harder days, I pop in a tablet of Nuun to aide in my recovery.
It’s really easy to forget about the benefits of compression gear. They are relatively new to the running scene but their advantages seem endless. Writing for Runner’s Connect, John Davis said: “their best use is probably in preventing excessive soreness and muscle damage from hard training sessions.” Quickly throwing on a pair of compression socks or even compression pants can assist in speeding up the recovery process.
Remember that the optimal window for beginning the recovery process is the first 30 minutes following exercise. During this window, Abby Housefield for Runner’s Connect says, “consuming the proper nutrition during the first 30-minute window immediately following exercise is your first step to having a better run tomorrow.” Spend 5 minutes eating, 10 minutes stretching and 10 minutes rolling out and you’re well on your way to a fast and smooth recovery for your next big effort.
Since we’re not all speedy, professional runners, it’s important that we do everything we can to maximize our between-run efforts so that we can get the most out of each run we do.
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I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!
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