Post-Run Recovery Tips
There are few better feelings than a post-run endorphin high. But there are few worse feelings than that next-day soreness! If you’re struggling to get back your feet after a hard workout, here are some tried and true tips to help you with post-run recovery.
Rather than stopping all movement after you’ve reached your running goal, take a two to three minutes to jog or walk at a comfortable pace. This gives your body and your heart rate some time to settle down from the excitement and adrenaline of a hard run. By ending your workout with a comparatively easy gait pace, your nervous system will feel less stressed and more prepared to take on the task of repairing your muscles.
When your body is working hard in the gym or on the trail, your muscles produce a byproduct called lactic acid. When this builds up in the muscle tissue, it can cause soreness, fatigue, and cramping. If you’re feeling stiff or tender after your runs, whether it’s the day of or the day after, it could be due to the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. To prevent this from happening and improve post-run recovery, be sure to stretch out the muscles you’ve trained. Hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, hips, feet, and the lower back all take on the strain of your athletic efforts. Show them some love afterwards by slowing down and stretching out.
Rehydrate and Renourish
Exercise is important, but nutrition is crucial too. After a workout like running, your body is depleted of energy and needs to replenish its glycogen reserves. It’s not usually necessary to have a full meal after a run, but a post-workout snack or smoothie can do wonders for recovery. Be sure to get a balance of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates; the fast-acting carbs will restore your energy more quickly, while the heartier starches will be stored in your muscles as reserved energy for your next run. You’ll also want to get 10 to 20 grams of protein, depending on your body weight, muscle mass, and exercise habits.
Switch Up Your Routine
If your recovery time is consistently taking longer than desired or your runs are making you feel less than ideal, it could be a sign that your exercise routine needs to be modified. Chronic fatigue tends to be a sign of overtraining or dehydration, while serious soreness may point to an underlying injury or condition. Check in with your body and how you are feeling before, during, and after a run. This mindfulness can help you determine what’s causing your impaired recovery and point you in the right direction of how to fix it.
Although you might be tired and sweaty after a run, it’s best to change into dry and comfortable clothing when you’re done. If you shower right after your workouts, be sure to towel off thoroughly and dress in a fresh outfit. When you continue to wear damp or wet clothing after exercising, the weight of the fabric impairs your body’s circulation, preventing oxygen and other essential nutrients from efficiently getting to your muscles. Not only does improved circulation help your muscles get the nutrients they need, but it also removes the waste products like lactic acid that can cause soreness and poor recovery.
There’s no single solution for shoddy recovery, but there are plenty of factors to test and modify to find your best workout schedule. If it seems like nothing is working, consider taking a break from running for a few days or even a week. Sometimes the fix for a chronic problem is as simple as pressing the reset button.