6 Runner Hacks for Post Run Recovery
As you walk in the door of your house, with those endorphins still pumping throughout your body, you feel pretty good about yourself, right? You got your run in, done something good for your body, and now it is time to reap the rewards.
Not so fast! Your run is not over until you have finished your entire post run routine, and if you do not have one, here are some things you should add to your post run regime to get the most out of your running and feel better while doing it. So, let’s go through a few hacks that work pretty well with post run recovery.
Grab a snack
It could be up to an hour (or more depending on where you are) until you get a full meal in, but it is important to get something in your system within 20 or so minutes of finishing a run. You’ll need to replenish some of the energy that you burned while running.
There are some great energy or snack bar options out there, a refreshing smoothie may sound good at this time of the year, or even just an apple with almond butter. It’s a good idea to take in around 100-200 calories, and your body will use them up right away as your you are is still burning calories, even while you cool down.
Studies have found that stretching before running is not good for our muscles, but stretching afterwards is great for us. Stretch the major muscles that tend to get tight for runners; hip flexors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Take around 1-2 minutes for each muscle group, spending a little longer on any areas that feel tighter than others, but make sure you do not force your muscles to go further than they are ready for by bouncing, you will only put yourself at risk of injury
There are almost unlimited tools out there for runners now to make foam rolling easier….or maybe not easier (it hurts whatever way you do it!), but more efficient.
Whether you use trigger point therapy, a roll recovery, or even a PVC pipe, follow a foam rolling routine through the major muscles, spending no more than 45 seconds on each muscle. Make sure you are not making any of the critical foam rolling mistakes!
If you are not used to running, you may feel a little sore from the pounding on the hard ground, this is a great time to take an ice bath by filling a bathtub with enough cold water and ice to cover your legs completely when you are sitting down. Bite down hard on a towel while you step in to the water, and set a timer for about 15 minutes. I know, not quite as comfortable as a nice warm bath, but it can help with a better post run recovery.
After the first 2 minutes, the pain will lessen, and it will get easier the more often you take an ice bath. Fresh blood will be pumped around your legs once you get out of the tub, which will leave you feeling much less sore….once your legs return to a normal temperature that is!
Eat a full meal
Prepare a nutritious meal made with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein with a little fat. This meal should be made with whole foods and quality ingredients, and will contain 300-1000 calories depending on how long you were running and how big your snack was immediately after your run.
A great example is a 2 egg omelette with tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach served on top of a piece of toast. Or if it is evening, try a stir fry with vegetables and chicken.
If you do not feel hungry, try a liquid meal instead in the form of a smoothie or protein shake.
It is important to refuel your muscles so they can begin to repair the microtears made during your run.
Once you can walk normally, as the blood has returned to your legs, get in the shower to wash away the sweat and bacteria from running. It will feel good, and as you get out of the shower clean and reovered, you can reflect on a successful workout.
By following these 6 steps as closely as possible, you will notice huge differences in how you feel on your runs, as well as with how much easier your recovery is. Elite runners complete these daily, but this is unrealistic for the majority of runners, so just try to complete as many of them as you can, as often as you can.
Making an effort to stretch or roll after every run will also make a noticeable difference, but the most important step to help with recovery is to eat within an hour of finishing your run.
If you only have enough time to get one of the steps in, make that the one…..and maybe showering, that’s a pretty important one too!