Running is only as good as your recovery.
If you are going out and putting in all the miles, all the hills and all the speed work, without the recovery behind it, you won’t see the maximal gains, and you’ll be putting in a lot of work for less reward than you deserve.
In addition to scheduling in runs, schedule in adequate recovery time and try to incorporate my top 5 tips:
1. Take in your electrolytes
Not just for hot weather, keeping up a proper intake of electrolytes is critical for recovery and long-term performance. If water is like the gas you put in your car, electrolytes are like the oil and other fluids that you need to make it run: you don’t need them as much as water, in the same quantity or frequency, but you still need them regularly. Electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, among several others and typically you can get them in electrolyte source drinks all in one go. Coconut water is a great way to make this happen, and avoid sports drinks where possible, as they are often simply loaded with sugar.
While outward signs of lacking sleep may take a while to show up or you may not think you regularly feel fatigued, running lots and sleeping a little does not bode well for long term success. Sleeping time is when your body recovers and rebuilds. It’s when your muscles are restored and when your immune system goes to work to eliminate potential illness. Given that running is a stress on the body, you need even more sleep to help or overcome this stress and without enough your performance will start to suffer and your energy will spiral down the drain!
3. Start rolling
Don’t underestimate the value of a ball! While foam rolling is really great and is an important part of recovery, try your hands on a hard ball, like a lacrosse ball and you may be even more impressed (or in more pain!) The great thing about the ball option so that you fan easily take the ball with you wherever you go and just whip it out at any time – while sitting in traffic, while you’re traveling or when you go to have dinner at your parents! And it’s perfect for using while you are watching TV, or even to roll under your feet while sitting at your desk.
4. Check your magnesium
Magnesium is like the athlete’s mineral. It is the anti-stress mineral for the body, helping fight stress faced by the adrenal glands (running is a physical stress on the body!), and it is essential for helping reduce muscle cramping and maintaining proper electrolyte balance It also aids in sleep, helping improve quality and quantity. Many foods contain suitable levels of magnesium, such that you can typically get enough from your diet. Some magnesium rich foods include sweet potato, leafy greens, raw cacao and nuts. Focus on adding magnesium rich foods to your diet to make sure you get enough!
5. Take a break
While all these tips are important for reducing your injury risk and helping your body in recovery, none are as important as the need to take a break. A complete rest. This should be for a day every week, but every once in a while, you might need to give it a little longer. Listen to your body, and take the time that you need and the time that it is asking for. This is especially relevant when you are coming off of big races or big training seasons. You can work really hard, but you need to give your body the time to reap the benefits of that work and show you what it has to offer.
By: Laura Peill