After a race or run recovery is important and as runners we are probably the worst at looking after our bodies post-race/run. Here are my top 5 post run 5 recovery tips.
1. The warm down. If you've done a race or a hard session, it's important to include a good warm down, for me I aim to do a very easy 10 minute warm down. A solid cool down ritual after your training runs and races is just as important to your performance and recovery as the warmup. Where the warmup prepares you for the upcoming workout, the cool down eases your body back into reality and prepares you for the next workout. Aim to do 10 minutes nice and easy this should become a routine and before long it becomes a vital part of your weekly routine and trust me your body will thank you for it.
2. Food/drink. You have a golden period after a run/race and it's vital that you replenish what you've lost during your workout. Every time you exercise your body breaks down muscle fibres and creates small micro tears in your muscles. Ideally, the body repairs these little tears and actually makes them stronger by the time you go to exercise again. Simplistically, this is how the body continues to progress your fitness. However, in order for your body to complete this rebuilding process it needs the proper nutrients, and lots of them.
The body has a small window of optimal nutrient absorption, 30-90 minutes, and you want to make sure you utilise as much of that window as possible. The trick is to try various products and find out what is best for you. Some people like natural stuff, others like big brand recovery drinks. However I know a few pros who love Chocolate milk. Seriously give it a try.
3. Compression Socks/Calf guards. I swear by these and they really do help your legs recover from a tough session. I try and get my calf guards on within 10 minutes of my race ending. Compression clothing is used by runners in attempt to recover from hard workouts and races as quickly as possible. For example, the snug-fitting, knee-high socks are meant to increase circulation and reduce lactic acid build-up. Some runners warm compression gear while training and racing, others use them after a run. There are loads of brands out there, again it's down to choice and preference.
4. Hot bath. I don't believe in ice baths but have found hot baths work a treat. About 60-90 minutes before bed, you should take a hot bath in Epsom salts. Combine 4 cups of Epsom salt with 1 cup of baking soda and relax in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. After the bath, dry off and roll out your muscles with The Stick and get in a good stretching session. Not only with this help remove excess toxins from the muscles, the stretching before bed will ensure that you wake up feeling ready to go for your next run. Furthermore, the relaxing bath and the Epsom salts will help you sleep.
5. OOFOS. Yes the recovery footwear. I race in racing flats, this means my feet take a real pounding and the feet are sore afterwards, especially on the heels. This is where recovery footwear comes into play. After I've done my pre race warm down and added my compression socks I put on my OOFOS and walk round in them for the rest of the day. This allows the feet to recovery, just like my calfs are doing in the compression socks. The footwear takes the impact out of walking as well thanks to the padded nature of the sole.
With anything, it's down to you to find out what works post run/race and get your own routine going.