What is Your Recovery Plan?

By Jen Haydt
July 10, 2011

As a runner, you don’t get better when you stress your body – you get better when you recover. Recovery is when the body adapts to hard training. Without it your body does not get the change to rebuild and get stronger.

Training cycles should have hard and easy days. At least one day a week should be extremely easy.
Recovery days should be slow enough to have a full conversation without getting out of breath.
If the body improves during recovery, it makes sense that we recovery should be a major focus of training. Sleeping, eating, hydration, icing, massage, running easy, stretching, and cross training are all important recovery tools that runners often neglect. They are also the easiest ways to improve your running.

Sleep:
Studies show that athletes need at least 8 hours of sleep to function at their maximum capacity. During hard training blocks you may need up to 10 hours.

Refuel:
It is important to refuel the body with nutritious foods, preferably right after a workout. This helps rebuild muscles so they are ready to go for your next run.

Hydration:
Hydration is one of the easiest ways to combat fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches.

Icing:
As you work out, you break down muscle fiber which causes swelling. Ice helps reduce this swelling and increase blood flow.

Massage:
As muscles tear, painful knots/adhesions form in the tissues. Deep tissue massage can break up the adhesions as well as flush out the lactic acid from the muscles.

Running Easy:
It’s a little counter intuitive that running more helps you recover faster, but it actually helps prevent stiffness and moves the lactic acid around. Kind of like a long massage!

Stretching:
Stretching is a great post-run recovery tool. It prepares the muscles for resting and helps keep them from cramping.

Cross Training:
Giving the muscles a break from the running motion can loosen them up as well as strengthen supporting muscles. Not to mention, it’s another way to increase aerobic fitness.

Develop some recovery goals in your training plan.  For example, today my goal is to get 9 hrs of sleep.  Having a recovery goal or two per day will help you to stay healthy and get the most out of your training and racing.  What is your recovery plan/goal for today?


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