Recovery sounds like the lazy part of running, which is why so many endurance athletes skip it. We want to be moving forward and continuing to challenge ourselves. That’s why we need to reframe recovery as taking ACTION to achieve our goals.
Running Coach Amanda Brooks, author of the well-known website and book Run To The Finish, is providing us with some of the insights she often shares with her runners. Training isn’t just about finding ways to push through the discomfort; it’s also about treating our body well so that we can continue to put in miles for many years to come.
Keys to Workout Recovery
We know that stress + rest = growth, so how can we optimize that rest time?
Additionally, these tools can help your nervous system to relax which means reducing cortisol levels and helping your body to get back to normal after a hard week of training. Heightened cortisol means inflammation, reduced recovery and increased fatigue during your workouts.
So, let’s talk about some EASY and enjoyable ways you can amp up your recovery to keep your training on track.
Whether you want to utilize a massage gun or foam roller at home or get a sports massage, spending some time giving your muscles extra attention and love is going to improve recovery.
- Foam rolling allows you to break up the fascia which could be inhibiting your range of motion
- Massage guns provide additional relaxation and can help dampen pain signals
- Deep tissue massage helps release the mitochondria which are essential to muscle repair and energy
- Swedish massage is fantastic for lowering anxiety, improving flexibility and blood flow
That’s right, rest doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch all day. Though sometimes it can mean exactly that if you’ve truly gone hard for multiple weeks in a row.
But we know that an easy walk, a cruise on the bike and some time outdoors can do a lot for your recovery as well. Perhaps it’s because you can spend that time connecting with friends and family you don’t see during the many long hours of training.
- Walking helps flush out the legs
- Biking allows you to move without the pounding of running
- Swimming provides a full body workout and improves breathing
- Restorative yoga helps to reset your over taxed nervous system and open tight hips
- Hip mobility workouts help to improve your range of motion and work through tightness from workouts
The goal of these active recovery days is to help your body relax, reduce your cortisol levels and provide your muscles time to repair. You can’t gain strength or endurance from a body that’s overtaxed.
Better Quality Sleep
In my opinion, there is no better recovery tool than sleep. Not just because I genuinely love it, but because study after study has proven there is a direct increase in performance when we increase our sleep time and quality.
Unfortunately, when we think we should sleep best after a massive week of training, our body is actually tired, but wired. We have trouble falling asleep or wake up throughout the night.
- CBD helps connect to our bodies natural endocannadoid receptors to create that relaxation
- A consistent routine helps our body know when it’s time for sleep
- Meditation, a short yoga flow or reading can also help to quiet the mind for more restful sleep
Athletes need a minimum of 8 hours, but studies have shown during big training periods that more is better. Consider it part of your training to make time for the ZZZs.
No good article on recovery can skip nutrition. While I’m not a nutritionist, I’ve worked with many of them over the years to help my athletes and they’ve imparted a few great pieces of advice:
- Pay attention to food sensitivities; they can amp up your body’s inflammation
- Eat enough to fuel your activities; under fueling stresses the body further and can cause injuries like stress fractures
- Focus not just on carbs for replenishing, but enough protein to prohibit muscle loss from endurance training
- Find ways to sneak veggies into every meal
- Eat more meals and fewer snacks; you’ll find your food quality goes up in relation to that
The best athletes know that to improve they have to be consistent in their workouts, and consistency comes from not getting injured. That means not only smart training, but making recovery an active part of their program.
If you feel like your program is lacking in these areas, no sweat – start now.