You spend months planning out your training, doing speed sessions and long runs, cross-training, eating right, and doing everything by the book. Once the race is over, is when you really need to focus on downtime and how to recover. Recovery refers to the process of giving your body a break from training, whether it’s between intervals on a track, or between training runs during the week, or after a goal race.
By allowing your body time to restore and return to ‘normal’ you are better prepared for optimal performance. It is during these recovery phases that many of the adaptations to training are made. Given adequate recovery time, muscles can repair and strengthen, connective tissues toughen, hormones and other enzymes are replenished, glycogen is restored and the body is now able to perform better than before. Muscles and bones are stronger, ligaments are tougher, capacity is raised, anaerobic threshold is higher, we can run longer or faster. Which is why we cannot stress enough about how important recovery is for you.
We are listing a few tips that you can keep in mind while in recovery mode (whether for a long period or short). We hope these help the process.
Stick to a balanced diet with plenty of good carbohydrates and protein to help repair and rebuild damaged muscles.
Immediately after a run, don’t wait too long to eat something. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. Eating some carbs and protein soon after you run can help minimize muscle stiffness and soreness. If you’re taking a longer break, make sure that you eat healthy during your time off. There’s no need to punish the body with junk food (cheat days are, of course, allowed).
Post-run is the best time to stretch because your muscles are warm and flexible. But make sure you don’t overdo it after a hard run or race. If you’re taking a break from running, remember to stretch as often as possible, so that your muscles remain supple.
There is never any need to stop all activity. If you’re taking a break from running post a race, you should try to cross-train for 45 minutes every other day to keep your body strong and away from inertia.
This is the most fun part of recoveries. Try to ensure a relaxed workout or routine after a marathon. Get as many massages as you can. And make sure the therapist doesn’t apply too much pressure on your already sore muscles.