Q5. How Do I Recover Well After Running?
An evening of sleep, mental relaxation, and nutrition are usually enough for the recreational athlete to recover. But, there are ways to optimize your recovery time and muscle protein synthesis. Read on!
You have to start with hydration. Check your fluid requirements with this simple water intake calculator:
Carbs, protein, and sodium are also important after your workout to boost your recovery. Have a balanced meal of carbohydrates, fats, and protein about one hour after running.
*Beware: dietary supplements can be dangerous. Therefore, always consult a registered dietician or doctor before taking any.
Magnesium helps to support your system. Your body sweats out magnesium during running. See this blog post for more information about foods containing the mineral: Magnesium for Athletes.
Some supplements are important for recovery after running, including glutamine, branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), creatine, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Glutamine and BCAA support the muscle’s ability to sustain exercise and regenerate cells. Creatine gives muscles stable energy. And the neurotransmitter GABA helps if you are suffering from sleep issues.
Such dietary aid should only be used if you’re training intensely or have a deficiency. A healthy diet is the key to success and is more important than anything you find at the pharmacy or nutrition shops.
For more help determining if supplements are right for your activity levels, see this blog post: Supplements for Sports Lovers.
Every runner has their own individual lifestyle. If someone is constantly stressed out, exhausted, sluggish, or restless, it is almost impossible to fully recover. Mental health is as important as your physical health. Everything in life can affect recovery because emotions affect our physical self and vice versa.(2)
There are active ways to support your body. Enjoy a massage, go to the sauna, or take a hot shower. Especially after races, this is a well-deserved way to show self-love.
Conduct a skincare check while showering. Outdoor runners are especially prone to skin spots that can lead to skin cancer. This blog post provides more sun-safe advice: Running in the Sun. For a guide on how to recognize signs of melanoma, visit Spot The Dot.
What is the Best Recovery for Runners?
A study conducted by the University of Essex analyzed a group of recreational runners after a half-marathon. They were given different recovery strategies and measured to see which method worked best. The methods: active recovery, cold water immersion, massage, and passive recovery. The study results:
- Active recovery participants perceived less muscular and emotional benefits.
- Participants who used cold-water immersion didn’t perform better in their next run but felt less sore and stressed.
- Massage reduced muscle soreness the most.
- Every participant felt fatigued after 24 hours, regardless of their recovery method.
- In another study by the United States Sports Academy, both passive and active recovery had benefits and downsides.
In conclusion, massage and cold-water immersion are the best runners’ recovery. Since both passive and active recovery has pros and cons, it’s up to you to decide which feels best in your body!