My last post-workout training tip shed light on post workout cool down and recovery and the concept that effective training means knowing not only how to effectively stress your body, but how to expedite its rate of recovery so that it can properly absorb the day’s training stress and adapt to it/grow stronger. We often think of post workout “recovery” as something that happens in the hours and days after a given workout but pay little attention to our body’s needs in the minutes following stressful training sessions…
Running by nature is a stressful activity. With every stride, we subject our bodies to quite a bit of eccentric stress. Muscles, joints and connective tissue all take a beating when we pound pavement, cross-country trails and even the treadmill. The degree of stress being imposed upon our bodies is determined by the severity of the training session and your relative state of fitness.
Generally speaking, the harder and/or longer you run, the more you stress your body, although things like weather conditions and course profile obviously factor into the equation as well (i.e. a hilly course will usually exact a higher toll than a flat course will). A highly trained, physically fit runner can typically handle more training stress than their out of shape/beginner counterpart can, which is another reason that newer runners must remember to build their training volume and frequency slowly when undertaking a training regimen.
Regardless as to whether you call yourself a seasoned pro or a rookie however, there are a few keys points to remember when thinking about post workout recovery:
- Your recovery period actually begins before the training session ever ends. Be sure to allocate at least 5 – 10 minutes to easy jogging and/or walking before you end your workout. Doing so will help to clear lactic acid out of your working muscles and will give your heart rate and respiratory rate a chance to return to normal. The cool down period also helps to deliver blood back from the big muscles you’ve been using during the workout and lessens the likelyhood of post workout dizziness as a result.
- Stretch out. Immediately following the cool down period, you should devote 10 – 20 minutes to light static stretching. Post exercise, muscles are warm and relatively loose. By gently stretching all muscle groups 2 – 3 x for 20 – 30 seconds per stretch, you help to keep your body loose post session and will help to ward off cramping and stiffness later on in the day and in the days following your workout.
- Eat and drink. As a general rule, you should strive to replace the fluids your body lost during the training session by consuming an equal amount of water and or/sport drink in the hours following the cessassion of the day’s training load. A good practice to follow, especially when running in warmer temperatures, is to weigh yourself before and after each training session in order to approximate your fluid loss during the workout. Consuming a meal that is high in carbohydrates post training is another good practice and will help to increase your rate of recovery as well.
- My next beginner training tip will dive deeper into post workout hydration and nutrition strategies. In the mean time, stay tuned for the next Landice podcast in which I’ll outline general cool down procedures and helpful stretches that you can apply to your own training.