Long distance jogs or fast, quick pace running workouts, whether inside or out in the open, are ideal components of any training process. Keeping the required pace for long periods of time coupled with the strenuous loads on your knees and feet can add up, especially after an extended workout. Also, training for a new personal record may prove stressful and exhausting, so knowing how to properly recover from a workout is critical.
Most athletes couple hard training programs with periods of lighter workouts and relaxation therapy, to ensure long term athletic performance. Even though you might not be able to include a relaxing day with massage and complex therapy, simple tips such as rehydration and a healthy diet are easy to do and will have excellent benefits in the short run.
Here are some tips to have a good and effective recovery after a strenuous run:
1. Make sure to keep hydrated at all times
Try to keep hydrated during long runs by carrying a small bottle of water if possible. Also, rehydrate immediately after finishing the race. You should drink simple water or electrolyte sports drinks, such as Gatorade, which have the best and quickest results. Keep in mind that hydration is essential even during the cooler months, although you sweat a lot less than in the summer months.
2. Do some light stretching exercises
Stretching can help your muscles relax after long periods of effort and can be started generally within 30 minutes after completing the run. Try to focus on stretching the main groups of muscles: the calves, gluteus, hips, hamstrings and quads.
Some athletes even recommend short 100 meters shake out runs, or short walks to recover faster. Also, keep an eye on the sensitive ligaments and joints to avoid injuries. These areas can get quite painful after long runs, so be careful.
3. Have a protein or carbohydrate bar to replenish macronutrients
During long runs your resources will be depleted. Not only the water levels, but also macronutrients, such as proteins and carbohydrates are lost through excessive sweating. Always have in your sports pack some glucose tablets, energy bars or high carb fruits, like bananas, nuts or granola.
4. Apply ice packs on the tensed muscles and joints
After strenuous efforts your muscles and joints will be painful, swollen and tender. Ice packs, or in some cases ice baths, are great methods to recover from hard trainings. Apply small ice packs on key joints, such as the knees, or on large muscles, such as the quads, gluteus or calves. If you feel particularly tired, you should opt for an ice bath. The water should hover around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. Immerse yourself in the water and relax for approximately 10 minutes. You will feel rejuvenated and fresh.
5. Eat a healthy menu
Food should not be overlooked when recovering from tough training sessions. Focus on meals consisting of spinach, skim milk, plenty of fruits, salmon (or any other low fat fish), chicken, turkey, beany vegetables (soya, beans, rice, nuts, almonds) and any other fresh vegetables. Also, drink a lot of natural fruity drinks such as orange or apple juice, and feel free to add supplements to your diet to ensure you are intaking enough nutrients.
6. Have a short nap
Sleeping is when your whole body and your brain recovers and regains its stamina and energy. Most athletes and trainers recommend a short 60 to 90 minute nap to relax the muscles and rest the mind.
Mark runs every day, plus finds time to hit the gym. He has been perfecting the techniques to recover his body for over four years.