I've mentioned before that one of the highlights of So Let's Go Running's fun day was a talk by Ben from Performance Physiotherapy on the art of recovery (and not just because it meant I got to have a sit down post bootcamp!).
Running is a rough sport, each step you take you load your leg with up to three times your body weight (in my case nearly 170kg!), post run your muscles need to deal with oxygen debt micro traumas, bleeds and blood pooling. Oh and your bones need to go through a rest and repair cycle which reduces the risk of fractures. With all of this going on it shouldn't be a surprise to hear that your body needs time to recover and heal itself to minimise injury and maximise training!
With some new challenges lined up over the next year and a history of minor injury, I want to make sure that I really look after myself so these tips from Ben are invaluable -
Try not to chug your drinks down, go slow and steady and keep drinking regularly in the hours after your race. Water is a great option (I like to add a Nuun tab) and milk is just as good as any of the commercial recovery drinks and is a good option if you can't stomach eating in the golden window (the first 20-40 minutes) post race.
Ben mentioned that drinking Cherry Active can support recovery. High in antioxidants apparently it can help to reduce soreness and aid recovery. I've not tried Cherry Active, but it sounds like an interesting option, and definitely something I will explore further.
Immediately post race it doesn't matter so much what you eat as long as you get some calories in you. Of course, you should aim for a good mix of protein/carbs/fats, but ultimately you just need to get something down you. If you really can't face solids milk or hot chocolate are great options.
Loved by some, feared by others (me), an ice bath can help deal with micro tears and bleeds and speed up recovery. Ben's advice was to aim for 10 minutes at around 10 degrees Celsius and to fill the bath around you because that it slightly less unpleasant than stepping in to a freezing bath! Maria, the lovely sports massage therapist who heals my legs, advises keeping your top half as warm as possible (jumper, hat etc) and drinking a hot drink while in the bath...I've not tried it, but when I do it should be entertaining!
Popping on compression gear post run can help reduce muscle swelling and pain, speeding up recovery and making life a little more comfortable! Ben's tip was to try and sleep in your compression gear the night after a race (if you can), and not to forget your arms! Again, this isn't something I've tried yet, but I think it could be worth investigating.
sleep and rest
My preferred recovery method! Apparently I am on to something with my fondness for napping - aim for at least 8 hours a night to help your body recovery and limit your running for at least two days after any race over 10k.
Sounds gory, but it's actually getting your legs up in the air (or at least elevated on some cushions) to dissipate blood pooling...i find it pretty relaxing, and it definitely helps my legs to feel lighter!
Ben's suggestion was to try and get in 20-30 minutes of light exercise with 24 hours of your race that isn't running - cycling and swimming are great options. This is one I swear by - I know that when I stop moving I seize up and stay that way for days, a shake out makes all the difference!
So, I am no expert, and while Ben is an expert, these are just generalised tips that might or might not work for you....how do you recover post run?