The better and faster our recovery is the more we can get out of our training. Here are a few things to help set you up for a quicker recovery after hard or long workouts and races.
1. DRINK/EAT Right away. It is of utmost importance to replace what was lost during your workout and to provide your body the fuel it needs to rebuild and repair the damage you have just caused. This goes for any and every workout. If you had an easy workout you should at least be drinking a full glass of water and eating a piece of fruit afterwards. The longer and/or more intense the workout the bigger the difference this will make.
a. DRINK, if you are not properly hydrated your body will not function efficiently PERIOD. After a workout you have most likely put yourself into a slightly dehydrated state. You need to correct this ASAP, have a glass of water, drink a sports drink preferably a lower sugar one but something is better then NOTHING.
b. FUEL, your body will need fuel to replace what you used and repair what you damaged. There are a thousand recovery drinks, smoothies, bars on the market. What is important to remember is that you need a good balance of Carbs and proteins along with a small amount of fat. That is why Chocolate Milk works so well it has everything you need in a close to perfect ratio. Healthy Smoothies are also a good choice and are easy to get down right after a hard workout especially if they are cold and it is hot out.
c. Do these 2 things as quickly as you can after your workout, within 30 minutes if at all possible and YES you probably need to plan for this before hand.
d. Continue to Drink Water for the rest of the day, if you become dehydrated you will greatly delay the recovery process.
2. Recovery Aids, there are a few proven items out there that will help you recover faster than if you were to not do anything. There are also a lot of things out there that are just marketing BS and in my opinion a waste of money.
a. Compression Gear, For recovery after a big training day or weekend it WORKS. They wouldn’t be putting compression pants on surgery patients in the hospital if it didn’t. Matter of fact if you were able to get some of those you could probably save a few $$. After a long run putting on a good pair of recovery socks will be very beneficial. I prefer the full sock, toes to knees. Wear them for the rest of the day if possible. This will help to increase the circulation in the feet, Achilles and calf’s areas that are usually the most sore after a long run. By increasing the circulation you are supplying fresh blood to those areas and helping your body to remove the toxins and swelling that may have occurred during your run.
b. Staying ACTIVE, this keeps the blood flowing to the muscles you just abused. If you were to go sit on the couch the rest of the day you would get very stiff. By staying on your feet or at least getting up and walking frequently you cause your muscles to contract, this causes them to push the toxins out the toxins from the damaged cells back into your blood stream where they can be processed instead of sitting and in the muscle cells causing discomfort.
c. ICE Bucket or Bath, not for the faint of heart. There is a way to do this that helps make it a little less shocking. If your using the bath tub get your ICE ready and have it near by so you can reach it well sitting in the tub or have a helper ready. Sit in the tub and start by filling it with cool water. Once the water has covered your legs add the ice. This keeps you from having to submerge yourself in a bath tub all ready full of ice cold water. Once you have added the ice set a timer for 8-10 minutes, drink your recovery drink and read a book. After the bath put on your recovery/compression gear grab a snack and try to stay active the rest of the day.