Weekend long run is the staple of most runners. It helps dial down the race day nutrition and hydration plan, prepares the mind and body for the rigours of race distance, test out new clothing and shoes or just a simple way of catching up with buddies. However, once the hard work is done, the adaptations required out of this run largely depends on how we treat ourselves. So, in this article I will give you simple tips and tricks to recover from a long run.
I have been running ultra marathons for quite some years now. There are days or blocks in my training plan which call for back to back long runs. Read here on how to keep the motivation alive. The most important aspect in the training for me is recovery issue. The better the recovery from the workouts, the more I am able to run and less injured I get.
Below are some techniques I use to recover faster from workouts.
|Sleep – Athlete’s Steroid
According to Mike Bracko, sleep has been called an athlete’s steroid. Getting enough zzzs is the most important ingredient in achieving full recovery. During sleep, though from outside the body seems to be at rest but inside it is working really hard to release growth hormones to stimulate and help grow muscle and reduce fatigue. If we don’t give the body enough time, it wakes up tired. According to researches, athletes who regularly stayed in bed longer had better timings in their respective events and suffered lesser injuries than the ones who cut short their sleep time.Typically, a 8-10 hours of sleep is ideal for recovery.
To ascertain the amount of sleep required by an individual a simple exercise can be done. Sleep at a fixed time at night without setting up the alarm. The time you wake up on your own and feel fresh is the amount of sleep you may need. Try this for few days in a row to confirm the result. Also on days of high intensity workout, more sleep may be required.
It is the second most important recovery tool. Most of the aches and pulls can be cured with this technique or at least can be stopped from aggravating. RICE means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
There’s no denying that we should give rest to our body or to the injured muscle group after a workout. The body is such a wonderful machine that it has its own system of troubleshooting some of the injuries. It gives us clear indications to stop doing some activity by showing fatigue, muscle pull or cramps etc. Don’t ignore them.
However, rest does not mean sitting on the couch and munching away packets of chips. Rest means an active rest. I generally try to get in a short run or a walk brisk the next day of a long run which helps in increasing the blood flow and thereby aiding in faster recovery.
After any workout, ice the joints especially knees, ankles, quads, hamstrings and calves. What we can do is either sit in a tub full of ice and water or apply ice pack on the joints and muscles immediately within half an hour of completion of workout. Ice treatment has many benefits like it reduce muscle soreness and swelling, prevents tissue breakdown, constricts blood vessels and flushes out waste products like lactic acid, out of affected tissues and etc etc. Remember not to ice a specific area for than 15-20 minutes or you may suffer from chill blain.
Another school of thought thinks the opposite on icing after workout. They say that icing interrupts the natural process of body to recover. Also that active recovery is better than icing as it promotes blood flow and reduces fatigue. Icing may stop inflammation but also delays healing process. According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning, direct application of ice on a body part seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise–induced muscle damage.
Never stop experimenting. Like now I have stopped icing and do not feel the need for it. However, proper diet and active recovery like swimming, walking and cycling will help you recover faster.
According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning, wearing compression garments showed the ability to lower lactate concentration and heart rate and promoted active recovery process after bouts of high intensity running. I can vouch for this study as after my weekly long runs, wearing the compression socks have proved to be really helpful. However, I am averse to wearing it while on the run. My personal choice though.
It means when you are sleeping or sitting, try and keep the fatigued body part above the heart level. It helps reducing swelling and pain as it avoids pooling of blood.
|Water is Magic
After a workout, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids to help recover faster. It helps to flush out toxins and prevents muscle cramps and stiffness. As per study conducted by Journal of Athletic Training, dehydration leads to increase in core temperature. From there, then everything goes downhill.
Aim to have approximately 8 ounces of water for runs of more than an hour and include some electrolytes if it exceeds a couple of hour. Also after workout, keep drinking water throughout the day till the time the colour of urine is clear.
4. Post workout snack
Proteins helps repair muscles and carbohydrate helps replenish the depleted glycogen level. For over a year from now I was making the mistake of ignoring the importance of consuming a post workout snack and suffered from bouts of lethargy throughout the day.
The best bet will be consuming a post workout snack of a combo of carbs and protein within 30-60 minutes of finishing a workout. Thereafter, having a normal meal after 2 hours. According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, consuming a drink with a combination of carbs, proteins and electrolytes promotes faster recovery after workout. Post workout foods can be –
– Chocolate milk(if you are vegan like me, then use soy or almond or rice milk)
- Smoothie with fruits and nuts.
- Unived’s Rrun Post Complete System Recovery Mix.
|Good Food – Glorious Food
Diet also plays a major role in recovery after long run. Over a period of many years and many long runs, I have realised eating a clean diet helps in better recovery. Since the time I became a vegan, my diet automatically got clean, which meant more nutrients reaching my muscles.
Remember that doing a long run doesn’t give you permission indulge in junk food. In case you want to grow as a runner, chomp on the goodness of vegetables and fruits and nuts. Avoid deep fried food, which does hinder the body’s ability to recover optimally and provide required adaptations.
|Something like Barley Juice? 🙂
Beer is of course my favoured post long run drink. I don’t drink in the morning though but yes, it does enter my system in the afternoon and evening. Indulging in beer has its benefits as it has carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, magnesium and protein.
However, don’t over drink this good stuff because then the body will use more of its blood to digest the alcohol than use to deliver oxygen to muscles which require recovery.A couple of pints of beer is alright I guess.
So, here you go! I hope this post will help you in recovering from long run in a better way and you will be able to achieve the required adaptations.