Regardless of what program you follow or what distance you run, all running training for the most part can be split into two parts. The time spent actually running (and doing cross training) and the time spent recovering from that training. The first part is the fun stuff, it's what we all love about running, out in nature breezing through the trails in all weather.
But it's the second part, the recovering from all that training that allows you to make progress and just as importantly stay injury free. The thing is though that recovery isn't quite as exciting or as instinctive as the running bit. But it is just as important. Don't worry though, we've condensed down everything you need to do post run into this easy guide.
Thinking about recovery before you've even laced up your trainers for your run might sound a little counterintuitive but by making sure you're fully warmed up and hydrated you'll dramatically cut back on how much damage you cause you're muscles and body. Making recovery times plummet and meaning you'll be ready to run again in no time.
If you were to chart out your pace for any given (steady state) run it should look remarkably like a hill with a gentle incline on both sides. You want to start off gently and ease your pace up as your body warms up and the same goes for finishing off a run.
Again all of this is in the name of preventing you from causing any more damage to your body than you need to and allowing you to recover quicker.
Despite how strong the desire might be after a particularly hard run the most important thing is that you don't just collapse and stop moving. Instead no matter where you are keep on your feet and moving around. The next thing to take care of is hydrating. Personally at this point I prefer to just drink water and any nutrition that I might need I choose to get from food rather than an energy drink.
Now that you're hydrated and starting to feel your heart rate coming back down to normal, the next thing you want to do is get something warm on. This is especially true if you are out on the trails that you've driven to and not running door to door near your house.
Then once you are warm and dry you're able to start stretching out those tired muscles. This doesn't have to be anything overly complicated or long, just find a routine that works for you, I personally do really well with plenty of lunge variations and pigeon stretches.
You're now warm, dry and limber, it's time to refuel and re-hydrate some more! Ideally you want to be drinking a minimum of 500ml within an hour finishing up your run and quite possibly more depending on your run and the conditions. When it comes to recovery nutrition a lot of folks get carried away with the importance of protein and carbohydrates. But the truth is that after a tough session your body is going to want a mix of all three food groups (protein, fats, carbs) to allow for the most recovery! We made our protein crispy bars with exactly this goal in mind.
When it comes to recovery techniques, it's pretty hard to beat a good nights sleep. 8 hours every night in a dark, cool room should be a serious goal for any even half serious runner.