The irony of running is that in order to make consistent progress, it actually isn’t JUST about stacking on more miles over and over, day after day. YET, we must be able to run at least three days a week in order to get the improvements we are looking for. A wise runner knows that there is a constant quest for balancing effort and recovery. When recovery and effort are not operating in balance, the results will quickly undermine your efforts and result in fatigue, overuse injuries, or a flat line in your progress – GASP!
Here’s a strategy for a simple daily recovery plan for the days you run …because without that, tomorrow’s efforts will not be maximized.
Cool your Engine before you are done
- Like the dynamic warm up, the cool down is often a very important and very neglected element that plays a big part in setting up a good workout tomorrow. Recovery starts the minute you stop running, but you are DONE yet! Reserve 10 minutes and cool down in the three steps below.
- Step 1 – Gear down on the pace for the last 2 minutes of your run to an easy jog. Don’t finish with a great sprint at the end and then get in your car. You’ll be as stiff as an old boot tomorrow.
- Step 2 – Walk for 2-3 minutes – this allows you to transition your heart rate down and recover some more oxygen into your bloodstream while keeping your blood and other fluids circulating. This helps to nourish tissues that just worked hard for you.
- Step 3 – take 3 minutes to either repeat some of the Dynamic Warm Up moves or take a minute or two to stretch any areas that feel particularly tight from the session.
Don’t overlook the value of just doing this step of cooling your engine. It helps. Really.
But wait! There’s more!!
- Drink plenty of fluids – either water alone or if you’ve been sweating a fair amount, add some electrolytes in there too to replace the calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. (This is a great way to hold off those evil 2 am muscle cramps that launch you straight out of bed).
- How do you know when you’ve done a good job replacing your fluid? First, you need to urinate within an hour or two of finishing your run AND it’s colored a very light yellow in the bowl. Nail those two points and you’ve done a good job.
You get to lie down??
- YES! Get your feet and legs UP (really UP) on a wall. Elevate them WELL above your body for maximal recovery by laying on the floor and putting your legs vertically up against the wall. Spend about 5 minutes there, and you’ll help your body fight the effects of gravity and return the fluids that have pooled in your legs back into your body much faster.
Replenish your tanks
- For activity longer than 45 minutes, get a snack of carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of finishing your run and cool down. Some easy suggestions are:
- 8-12 ounces of low fat chocolate milk,
- A small turkey sandwich,
- One cheese stick and fruit
- 1 oz salmon and a sweet potato.
Think of the formula this way – For every 30 grams of carbohydrates, stack on 10-12 grams of protein (3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein). This allows for the best repair of the muscles’ micro-damage and replacing energy sources stored inside the muscles.
There it is – simple, quick and very effective – just what every runner needs.
STAY TUNED! Next week – get some more tips on helping your muscles recover from a particularly hard session.
And, as always, you’re welcome to join the Bring Your Sneakers free Facebook Group for women runners – hop right in here!
Our group is growing rapidly, and this week I took a giant leap and went LIVE in the group for the first time! Sure, I post LOTS of video segments throughout the week, but LIVE is a whole different game…there are no do-overs! And it went so well! (Thank you to all the amazing members for your support!)
This Facebook live session is almost an hour long. In it, I talk about the driving force behind the group, give some background on me and my experiences coaching running for the past 24 years, and also do a Q&A session where women are asking me anything! The video is available in the group for replay, and if you ever wanted to know more about Bring Your Sneakers…there is no better way to learn about what we’re doing. I hope to see you inside.