6 Steps to Recovering from a Long Run
Published: 5th September, 2017
Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and with so many feet pounding the pavements, it’s no surprise to see plenty of races and events available to test your stamina. But what is the most effective way of recovering from these gruelling tests of endurance? Our step-by-step advice will ensure you’re fit and ready to tackle your next event as soon as possible!
The first steps to recovery actually take place before your run has even started. As with all long-distance runs, (even if you’re training) you should build up your running speed until you reach your race pace. When competing in races and events, this will involve approximately five minutes of jogging, gradually increasing your pace before you line up at the start. This helps to prepare the soft-tissues in your body for the exercise to come and ready your circulatory system to ensure optimum performance.
Muscles are designed to be bathed in fluid. Without this lubrication, they essentially become sticky and start to adhere to each other. Normal, free-flowing movement then becomes more effortful for your muscle fibres as they tug and pull on each other.
A huge mistake made by many a runner, is over-hydrating before a race. You should drink just enough to quench your thirst on the morning of the race. The same advice applies to during the race, only drink what your thirst dictates. Don’t carry your own drinks belt, fluid weighs a lot and will only slow you down. Any event you enter will have appropriate drinks stations spaced out throughout the course, use those instead! After the event, try not to sink every last drop of water you can get your hands on. Your body can only rehydrate gradually over the course of 48 hours, so drink little but often during the next two days.
The benefits of stretching are still widely debated, but keeping your muscles warm and loose is essential to their recovery, and stretching after an event is a great way to do that. Focus on all the major muscle groups including the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves, as well as any niggles you might have after the run. Stretching should last for around 15 minutes in total, time very well spent.
4. AVOID ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATION
Inflammation after a long run is completely fine, it is the amazing process that our bodies use to heal ourselves! You won’t even be aware of most of the low-level inflammation that occurs within our soft-tissues. If you take anti-inflammatory tablets (commonly Ibuprofen) soon after an event, you will miss all the fantastic work your body is doing under your skin to recover and repair your muscles. If you experience a large, visible amount of swelling in a small area, or swelling that lasts for more than a couple of days, it would then be appropriate to have a Physiotherapy assessment to gain professional advice.
5. LEG DRAINS
After your stretching routine, lie flat with your legs propped up straight against a wall for approximately 3-4 minutes. This will drain all the old blood filled with lactic acid and other impurities built up from your run out of your legs. Your heart will then replenish your weary legs with fresh, clean blood when you stand back up.
6. GET YOUR ACHES AND PAINS ATTENDED TO EARLY
Those small niggles that crop up after an event or race can very easily turn into much bigger problems without early intervention. It may be that you just need a deep sports massage to flush your circulatory system of the all the lactic acid that has built-up. Or you may need a Physiotherapy assessment should those niggles interrupt your normal exercise routine. Whatever the treatment, it is always best to intervene early!
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