The September issue of Running Times has a nice article on recovery by Julia Lucas. As runners we tend to be very good about knowing where our mileage is and comparing our mileage and paces to each other and the elites of the world. You’ll hear pride in comments like “I ran 90 miles this week” or “I ran my 5 mile tempo and was 10 seconds faster than my target pace”. When’s the last time you heard an excited statement like “I made sure I ran easy this Sunday” or “I iced my legs 4 times this week”? We might hear about peoples recovery and ancillary training but generally we share those stories under our breath.
The article had a few good pointers from elite athletes, things they do to make sure they can hit their workouts, recover and continue training successfully. I won’t go into the details of what the article discussed since you can always just pick up the magazine (I know Rogue has some copies left) but will share some of the things I know many of us in Team Rogue have successfully worked into our training.
- Recovery Drinks – Right after you get done with the workout. The effort involved is minuscule and the benefit enormous. What can be easier than putting a single serve carton of chocolate milk in your workout bag?
- Hydration – Drink water and get the right amount of electrolytes (nuun, Thermolytes, Gatorade, etc). This helps with muscle tightness, cramping, and reduces the strain on your cardio vascular system … the list is really endless.
- Ice Baths – An invaluable 10 or 15 minutes. It helps reduce inflammation and flush the crud our bodies produce in tough workouts.
- Recovery Runs – If you don’t recover you don’t get faster. Workouts push our bodies physically and mentally, stressing them so they undergo adaptation. Those adaptations include repairing muscles, growing blood vessels and countless other things. When the hell do you expect your body to do that if you don’t take it easy sometime? If all you do is stress your body it’s going to breakdown, you’ll get sick or injured. There’s no if our but about it, it’s a matter of when.
These four things don’t really take much effort. There are lots of other things people do and recommend, rolling, massages, stretching which you can and should work in to your routine. These four are pretty simple for the return you’ll get. If you’re not willing to make this minimal effort you’re cheating yourself and reducing the chance of success of all the work you’re putting into your runs on the roads and trails. So get on with it, see you out on the roads.