Now is the time that marathon and half marathon season are upon us. Many people are in the heavy mileage months and legs and bodies are starting to break down. The repeated double digit runs and consistent running from day to day can wear on the body. While some of the soreness is there to stay and is just a part of training and running, there are some things that you should be doing to make sure that the soreness does not lead to injury or that the soreness does not derail your training plan all together.
One of the most important things that you need to be doing is hydrating, with water. Yes when you are out for your long runs, using a drink supplement or a sports drink works great but when you get back and for the rest of the day there should be a water bottle in your hands. There are so many apps to track how much water you drink and you need to be drinking as much as you can. Water is essential for recovery, flushing the body of toxins and overall rehydrating the body. Making sure to drink water continuously is an essential part of recovery.
Foam rolling is another essential part of recovery during training. While your legs may be so sore that it is difficult to walk and you do not want to touch them, working on them with a foam roller will help decrease the pain and flush out the garbage in the muscles. This technique provides what we refer to as self myofascial release. And yes, massages can accomplish the same thing but most of us cannot afford to have a daily massage. Foam rolling will allow some of the same benefits of massage but on a more regular, daily basis.
While it may be more painful to foam roll, it is necessary. If you are unable to do it for ten minutes at a time, do it for one or two minutes several times throughout the day. The video below shows you how to foam roll the legs. Make sure to roll the entire leg, even if some spots are sorer than others, it is important that you roll each aspect in order to help facilitate recovery.
Nutrition is another big factor in recovery. Making sure that you have the proper nutrition will help with a faster recovery and allow for you to be able to perform multiple runs a week. You want to make sure that you eat a good balance of protein and carbs but not overdoing it on either one. You also want to make sure that you eat within about 30 minutes of your run. The sooner you eat following a run, the quicker you will recover. Filling your body with nutritious foods shortly after a run will help your muscles recover much more quickly than if you eat junk after a run.
Stretching is also something that is important to recovery but not stretching in the traditional sense where you take 15 minutes and you stretch after a run and then you are done. Instead incorporate stretching and moving throughout your day to help your muscles recover. Going for a walk, and as you are walking hugging each knee to your chest is a great way to stretch. Doing this a few times during the day is the most beneficial. Standing up and doing a hamstring stretch at your desk a few times a day helps as well.
Many people think that it is enough to get the long run in, do a few stretches and drink a couple glasses of water and that will help them recover. Many runners never even think of recovery, figuring it will happen on its own. And yes, it will, but being too sore to run as hard the next time you are out has everything to do with how you recover. Proper recovery can help you improve your run and help you avoid injury so make sure you take the necessary steps to allow your muscles to recover properly.