Ah …. the post workout recovery … we all know it’s important but very few of us have developed and follow a well thought out recovery plan. While we all want to run like the Kenyans, we can, in fact, all recover like elite runners.
Incorporating enough time into any training program to implement a post workout recovery is critical because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Without sufficient recovery you mitigate much of the potential benefit which can result from the hard effort of the workout.
Recovery allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Intensive exercise causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen) as well as fluid loss. Recovery time allows these stores to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise, which can lead to over training. The more intense and longer the training workouts(for instance, during the 8 week period prior to a marathon) the more likely the prospect of over training… symptoms include general feeling of tiredness, staleness, decreased training performance leading to increased risk of injury. Thus the importance of adhering to a recovery plan after each of your hard workouts; usually the track (speed) sessions, tempo runs and weekly long runs. A recent article in RunnersConnect outlined the components of a thorough recovery plan. Below are the nine components of that post workout recovery plan. Admittedly, this plan is comprehensive and time consuming, but if you want those 16 mile runs to prepare you better for those 20 milers, its time well spent. And hey, you still want to run like the Kenyans …. right?
So, as closely as possible, you should be doing a recovery that resembles these components.
- Hydrate as soon after your run as possible with Gatorade or electrolyte drink
- Stretch major muscle groups and anything that is sore or tight. Roll out any nagging injuries or problem areas.
- Eat a small meal that contains a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein
- Take an ice bath
- Eat a decent sized, healthy meal
- Nap, put your feet up, or get a massage
- Take an Epsom salt bath
- Roll out on the stick and stretch well
- Get plenty of sleep.
Next month we discuss each component in detail.