For many of us, we’ve been training hard these past 4-6 months for that one big race we’re hoping to capture a new PR. During that time your muscles have taken a beating and if you don’t spend a little time refreshing your body, you’ll eventually break down.
Scotty McKeel, PT, DPT, the local athlete training expert says that a good recovery is absolutely necessary.
“You don’t get better during your training, you get better during the 30 mins after you finish, when you eat, the night of sleep after your hard work out, the day off for rest during your weekly training cycle. Those who get better and find results, put recovery and rest first.”
Here are some recommendations for keeping your body ready to compete:
- Having a good diet doesn’t mean you need to give up everything that you like eating or drinking. It means you need to consume in moderation and be aware of what you’re putting into the machine.
- Compression therapy can be very beneficial after a long race or hard workout. It can help with increased blood flow and reduce swelling – especially in your legs and feet. After a post-workout shower, I sometimes will wear my CWX spandex pants. My legs feel so much better the next day. You can read more on Runner’s World Compression Guide.
- Some therapists say that elite athletes should get a massage at least once per week. That may be a bit extreme (and costly), but if you’re running 40-50 miles per week, you might want to consider a deep tissue massage one a month. If you are training for a triathlon, and recording time in the water, on the bike, and on your legs, you may want to visit a therapist every other week.
- Saunas can also be a great refreshing element of your training plan. Known as hyperthermic conditioning, this type of recovery can help increase blood flow to your muscles. Why is that helpful? Well, your muscles need oxygen to perform at its best. Increasing this blood flow ability goes with that.After a long run or a couple of thousand yards in the pool, spending 15-30 minutes in a sauna 2-3 times per week will help with your body’s recovery. There are other benefits as well. Before you jump in, make sure you are in the right condition, and you’ve consulted a doctor before you start this type of conditioning.
- Elevate your legs. “Leg Drains” will help your legs and feet feel refreshed. Just prop your feet on a wall for 3-4 minutes to help drain the “bad blood.”
- Drink lots of water. 8-10 glasses of water after you finish competing will help you replenish the fluids you lost. You may not have sweat that much, but you were still working hard. Sure, a beer sounds good too, but don’t forget to balance it out with some water.
- It’s time to ice those legs. Yes, an ice bath sounds miserable. We’re not looking for freezing temps. After you fill up your bath with ice, it should melt, but the temp should be around 60 degrees. The first couple minutes are rough, but you’re goal is 10-15 minutes of recovery. Trust us, it will help in the long run.
- REST. Nothing compares to taking a rest day after a big race. However, Rest & Recovery is not just about taking a day off from exercising. As this website explains, if you spend 10 hours training per week, there are 158 non-training hours (95% of your time) where you could be recovering. If we are not training for 95% of our time, why does a hard week of training still find us dragging and so looking forward to that one “off” day? Probably because we’re juggling the rest of our life as well. But there are things you can do to recover that will help you take full advantage of your full rest days.
If you’re feeling like your training is not going anywhere, you feel exhausted, or sluggish on your runs, it may be time for a good rest and recovery session. Even a break in routine might help.
For more information on Runner Recovery, visit Competitor.com.