Let’s say you’ve just finished your long run and you’re feeling a bit drained. Understandably so! Long or hard runs use up our fuel and break our bodies down, a requirement in order that they can be built back up stronger. Faster. But right now you’re wondering how you’re going to have enough energy to accomplish the remainder of your tasks and if you’re going to feel good again when it comes time for your next training run. What can you do to recover faster?
How well we recover really is a key factor in the process of training to reach a certain level of performance. Here are my top five strategies to help you recover faster from your long or hard training runs… Or from any race your might run, for that matter!
I wrote last week on the importance of having a recovery shake within 30 minutes of completing your workout. So I won’t go into the specifics all over again, but if you haven’t established this practice yet, do take a minute to consider it (read last weeks post here). This is the cornerstone of your recovery. I have an all-natural coconut water based recovery shake with banana, hemp and chia seeds, and blueberries/strawberries or pineapple/papaya/ginger after every single long run or hard pace workout. Period.
2. Post-Run Hydration
When we run long or hard, we sweat. This water (and electrolytes) must be replaced. Dehydration makes us feel foggy and tired, can give us headaches, and even ages us faster – eek. Plus, proper hydration is key to ensuring good, strong training sessions.
In order to make sure we are rehydrating correctly, you’ll want to weigh yourself in dry clothing before and after your run. For every pound you lose, drink 3 cups (700mL) of liquid over the next 1 to 2 hours.
Let’s say you lose 2 pounds during a 90 minute run (note that levels of sweat and electrolyte losses range greatly among runners). Considering there is about 1 cup of liquid already in your recovery shake, ensure you drink another 5 cups of water (or coconut water or tea) after finishing your run.
Personally, I’m not a fan of straight-up coconut water (although I love it in my shake), so I’m all over drinking lots of pure filtered water post-run. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute… Plain water doesn’t have any electrolytes in it!” You’re right! But not to worry, we’re going to get our electrolytes (which are essentially the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) from food… Which brings us to number three.
3. Post-Run Complete Meal
Within 2 hours of finishing your run (approximately one hour after finishing your recovery shake), you need to be sitting down to a good meal. This meal is essential in providing you with electrolytes, antioxidants, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats – all which play vital roles in your recovery. Don’t shy away from using all-natural sea salt (not iodized table salt), as it is one of the key nutrients to consume in the post-run period.
One of my favourite post-run complete meals is frittata. It contains complete protein from the eggs and lots of nutrient dense veggies. Add some sprouted Ezekiel toast with avocado spread on top, and you’ve got one awesome post-run meal.
I love pancakes post-run too, but in order for pancakes to provide all the necessary nutrients, you’ll want to ensure lots of fresh antioxidant rich berries to cover them in and add a small veggie-rich omelette on the side. Or try scrambled eggs with sautéed kale, garlic and tomatoes, and a side of boiled/sautéed potatoes or toast. Leftovers from last nights dinner usually make for a good post-run complete meal also!
4. Post Post-Run Snack or Meal
No, it never stops. Every time we go to eat and drink, it is either helping or hindering our next run. Regularly delivering our bodies with good, whole food optimizes the delivery of energy and nutrients that will help with continued recovery… Right up to the point when we lace up for that next run. Following a tough run, make it a habit to avoid processed sugar and refined oils, and to eat lots of nutrient dense veggies and fruits. This will absolutely help to manage the recovery process.
5. Rest & Relax
Fuelling yourself well is undoubtedly important. But so is remembering that rest is as important as the running. When I’m out running for 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning, I don’t beat myself anymore up for wanting a nap after my post-run meal. I used to try to power through the day no matter how tough my long run had been, thinking I should be able to do it all (and then some). I grow older. I learn stuff. Now I nap. Kara Goucher (US Elite Olympic Marathoner) reportedly naps ever day after her first run and before her second.
Resting, napping, stretching, getting a massage, restorative yoga – these are all very good recovery strategies that go beyond nutrition. You want to embrace the ones that work for you.
By ensuring you have a recovery shake immediately following your tough run, rehydrating by drinking 3 cups of water for every pound of bodyweight lost while running, eating a balanced meal shortly after your recovery shake, eating well for the remainder of the day, and allowing yourself to rest… You’ll recover faster and be 100% ready for that next run.
Do you have a post-run recovery strategy that works for you? How long have you been practicing it? Whether it’s one of the strategies mentioned above or something else entirely, share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Happy running 🙂