- Cool Down
Bonus: Ice, Compression Gear, Foam Rolling, Massage…
After your run is complete walk for 5 to 10 minutes. Let your heart rate go down, take some deep breaths and keep moving as you relax. Check-in with your body and note if any areas will need extra attention during your stretching session. Feel free to move your upper body as you walk (raise your arms overhead, roll your shoulders back, open and close your hands in front and behind you, etc.).
If you have time and it feels good do some leg swings, hip circles and/or your favorite dynamic warm up moves.
If you have time you can make this longer but aim for at least 5 minutes.
*Things to note in your Running Log: Any extra fatigue, aches, tightness or pain. Overall how you feel and how the run went. If you do dynamic stretching moves you can also note – Do they feel easier than before the run? Do you have a wider range of motion?
Set a timer for at least 10 minutes and S-T-R-E-T-C-H. From head to toe slowly and mindfully stretch your major muscle groups. Be gentle and don’t push anything to discomfort or pain. Breathe.
Spend extra time on areas that seem extra tight.
*Things to note in your Running Log: If one side of your body is more flexible or more tight than the other. If one side seems sore (or more sore) than the other.
More Stretching Tips:
Grab your water bottle and get rehydrated after your run or workout. Most of the time you can use your body’s thirst to guide how much to drink. Every body is different and this varies based on the weather, season, your fitness, etc.
Things to note in your Running Log: If you were more or less thirsty. How much (if any) water or sports drinks you consumed during the run and what it was. The color of your urine to indicate hydration levels.
Eat a substantial snack or meal within 60 minutes of finishing your run (I aim for 30 minutes because I’ve noticed my recover suffers if I wait too long to eat). This should be a combination of carbohydrates and protein at a 4 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio. (We’ll talk about Post-Run Nutrition in Week 10 of the Run Fit Challenge.)
More Nutrition Tips for Runners:
Running is hard on your body. Sleep is prime time for your body to repair and rebuild any tissue damage from all that pounding. Consistently getting enough sleep can help you recover from all that hard work and be ready to perform well on future runs. This isn’t optional, it’s part of the entire training process. Make time to get enough sleep when you’re training for a race or to run a new distance.
It also makes sense that if you’re tired and not getting enough sleep – You’re NOT going to be able to give it your best effort on your training runs. If your tired – you won’t perform well and you won’t make progress as fast as you would if you slept well.
After a long run you might want to consider some of the these bonus recovery strategies. I’m going to share my personal experience and thoughts on these post-run tools and strategies. Remember every body is different so what works for one runner may not work for another. Every body is different so just consider all this information and decide what you want to invest your time and money in based on your body, budget and goals.
Bonus Running Recovery Options:
- Foam Roller – If you plan on running for a long time invest in a good, big foam roller and learn how to use it. I have two foam rollers and think they’re super helpful to work out specific tight spots and knots in my hamstrings and glutes.
- Ice Baths – Personally these have worked for me (and I am the biggest not a fan of the cold you’ll ever know). I’ve heard that cryotherapy machines don’t prove results in studies so I don’t think they work the same for recovery purposes.
- Epsom Salt Baths – I think the main benefit of an Epsom salt bath is that it’s relaxing. It doesn’t feel as effective in helping with recovery as an ice bath but it’s A LOT more pleasant.
- Sports Massage – Love a good sports massage! I once got a massage from someone who worked with competitive figure skaters and realized their experience and knowledge of the body made for a completely different massage. They worked on my body from an athletic performance point of view and it wasn’t just about feeling good and relaxed – it was about helping me recover to run better.
- Leg Drains – I put my legs up against the wall after long runs and listen to meditation music or a short meditation to help my body and mind recover. It’s amazing and often my favorite part of post-run recovery.
Question: How many of these did you do after your last run?
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