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Post Training Recovery after Running Article
by Gemma Carter

When training intensively, be it for a competition, to stay in shape or just for pure pleasure... being aware of how to look after your body post-run is a necessity. This article outlines some great tips and advice for those already training hard and also for anyone wanting to increase training safely.

Shortly afterwards…

Stretch!!!

Stretching and cooling down are a must to prevent injury and also reduce the onset of D.O.M.S. (delayed onset of muscle soreness). Depending on how long you trained for, aim to stretch each muscle for at least a minute and two minutes for sore areas. Try to learn a few particular stretches suited your needs. For example, runners always get tight I.T. bands so stretches in this area are highly important. Cyclists suffer from calf cramp so calf stretches play a valuable part.
 
Hydration

Again another vital part of recovery is to replenish lost liquids. Especially if your training has occurred in hot weather or you have been sweating a lot. As well as a loss of water, your body will also have lost electrolytes so aim to drink a sports drink which will replenish this and help reduce unnecessary muscle cramps. Keep your water bottle with you at all times.

Food

Eating soon after you have finished a long session will prevent fatigue and give your body its nutritional needs. Sports bars or a healthy snack such as a banana can be great foods for on the go.

A few hours later…

The Ice Bath

For those of you who are training really hard, there can be a love and hate relationship with the ice bath. This can be great for reducing swelling caused through

the sustained activity and cool the body temperature down very quickly to prevent overheating. However, it is painful and takes quite a lot of effort. Having tried it a few times I can say, yes it hurts at first but trust me you'll get used to it!

The Regular Bath

For those who aren't up to the Arctic experience of the Ice Bath try having just a regular bath. This time the warm water will act to relax your body and tense muscles, releasing built up lactic acids and toxins. For extra benefit add salt to the bath to soothe aches or alternatively aromatherapy such as lavender, thyme, rosemary or sage - proven to relax the body and mind. 

Massage

A great post bath activity is to self-massage used muscles. Depending on the type of activity and how tender the muscle is,  aim to use enough pressure to feel a benefit but without making it sore. Alternate between long strokes and a circular motions.

Put Your Legs Up!

Literally! By elevating your legs you drain any swelling away from them which can help recovery from training.

Sleep

Nothing works like getting some good zzzzzzz's for recovering for tiring training. When training hard you'll notice you need more sleep than normal. Where you may usually aim for 7-8 hours you may find yourself needing 10 hours. This is perfectly normal!

Longer term recovery techniques…

Active recovery

I would always recommend after heavy sessions to try low intensity training in between. This keeps the muscles fresh and loosens them up instead of seizing. Your body will soon adapt to recovering much quicker. Mixing up the intensity of your sessions like this will keep you mentally fresh too. Try something like a slow jog instead of running, cross training, doing weights instead of cardiovascular or even participate in a class.

Yoga

Much like your usual stretching routine can help keep injuries at bay, Yoga works to enhance your flexibility to a new level. By taking Yoga classes you can work on tough and tight areas and loosen your muscles up, keeping them supple which makes recovery even quicker.
 
Mental Recovery

As well as the physical recovery from training don't forget to look after yourself mentally. Training hard can be taxing and draining emotionally. Make sure to rewards yourself with an activity (or inactivity) like a film, a social event, or something minor just to break up the stress you put yourself under and take your mind off it.

Go Over Your Race Performance

Professional athletes and those who take training seriously find value in analysing their performances to see where they went wrong and how they could improve. Although this is usually only applicable to races and competition, it can be beneficial to everyday training but keeping you on schedule and focused after hard sessions. Keep a running training log and make notes of your schedules, improvement, or any tips you want to remember. It's also a great place to keep a reminder of your goals and motivations.
 
Remember, it's not only the training you do that's valuable but also what you do after it that can be the difference between injury and succ

Gemma Carter is a fully trained fitness and life coach. Visit her website at: http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk or email her at: gemma@cartercoaching.co.uk

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