Runners are notorious for pushing themselves beyond their natural limits and tough workouts are the protocol for training your body to inch its way to new levels of performance. That’s fine but the one thing you must always keep in mind is that you will need to find ways to assist your body in its recovery process following these gruelling drills. Recovery is essential in preventing or repairing injuries that your body might sustain.
There are numerous elements that come into play through the recovery process including hydration, sleep, nourishment, manual therapies such as massage, heat, ice as well as preparatory therapies such as stretching and focus. Taking these all into account and creating a realistic, manageable and sustainable routine will allow your body to not only perform while functioning but also how to rest and repair in a superior fashion.
Most people believe that they are practicing healthy nutrition through what they eat and looking at how you eat is also quite relevant. Plan to eat about a half hour after your workout to immediately replace the necessary elements that will aid in your recovery. Think carbs immediately as they carry a higher glycemic index and can be quickly absorbed by your working muscles. Proteins also accelerate the rebuilding of tissues that have been taxed and stretched through your workout. A banana pancake with honey is a perfect quick feed after a workout. Plan a regular meal a couple of hours later that includes vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.
Make sure that you remain hydrated before, during and after your workout. While you’ll need to take in water consistently, try not to gulp it back with long intervals between drinks. Take smaller sips more consistently to avoid cramping and stiffening of muscles which can set you up for injury. Most distance runners know that large amounts taken in will trigger a cramp and get more in the way than help.
Keep your mind clear and don’t work out while considering negative aspects that are occurring in other areas in your life. Don’t think about that big report that is due later today or about the fight you had with your significant other that morning. Release all of the tension in your mind so that you don’t hold it in your body and generate a fertile ground for injury. Stay positive when you’re pushing yourself to your limits and strive to reach your goals. Don’t reiterate negative thoughts about what you cannot do…use affirmations and mentally encourage yourself.
Sleep is your very best friend. If you are maintaining a consistent routine for rest then you’ve already got this. The key to that is the consistency. Don’t think that you can pay off a sleep debt that has happened over time cannot be corrected by getting one good night’s sleep. Don’t forget to remove the distractions that can interrupt a good rest such as cell phones or computers. In most cases, that text or email can wait until morning.
As ironic as it might sound, going to the gym can also help your body to recover from a particularly taxing work out on the roads. At the gym, you can do some stretching, focusing on isolated areas, you can do exercises to build your core and you can get in some strength training with weights. This is a good habit to pick up even if for just half an hour.
Doing the right things to help your body recover is worth the investment. It will keep you safe and set you up for your best performance.