Are you tired of reading about how runners should live a cloistered lifestyle, drinking only tart cherry juice in an altitude tent while clothed head-to-toe in compression gear in order to perform their best? While that lifestyle may be realistic for 0.0001% of the running population, the majority of mere mortals have other obligations, like tiny human beings to take care of and jobs to tend. For the real life warriors out there, here are tips for maximizing running recovery when recovery is the last thing on t mind.
5 Minute Inversion
Did you know that a few minutes of stretching or yoga-based poses per day is more effective for athletes than attending an hour-long class per week? Inversions (poses that place the hips above the heart, and the heart above the head) help stimulate recovery by recirculating blood flow in the lower extremities, jumpstarting the parasympathetic system, and promoting lymph drainage. Contrary to popular belief, inversions don’t need to include precarious poses such as shoulder-stands or headstands. Instead, simply lying on the ground with your legs up against the wall can give a runner all the recovery benefits of an inversion, without the work.
Is every second of your day jam-packed, without an extra second to devote to yourself? When you have a spare second (like during a boring meeting), visualize the recovery you wish you could have. Science has shown that detailed visualization – i.e. thinking about the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations of a relaxing nap, massage, or stretching session can actually trick the body into lowering stress levels and boosting recovery.
Eat More Chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease the levels of stress hormones in humans, thereby improving recovery in between runs and workouts. In addition, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, flavanols, and minerals that can help with muscle repair, such as magnesium. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 41 mg of this recovery-promoting mineral, which is roughly 15% of the daily recommended total. Go ahead and add some cacao to your post run recovery smoothie.
Skip the Workout if You Can’t Recover From It
Runners are typically Type-A people that like to follow schedules and plans, often to the detriment of their bodies. One of the top recovery hacks for busy runners is to reschedule long runs and workouts for days that recovery can take precedence, instead of trying to fit 48 hours of work into a 24 hour day, which can damage the immune system and leave an athlete susceptible to injury, illness, overtraining syndrome, and mental burnout.
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle
Something so simple as hydration – which is necessary for muscle recovery, blood circulation, lymph drainage, and relieving soreness – is one of the most overlooked aspects of race training. Simply carrying a reusable water bottle with you throughout your day can promote hydration and reduce your recovery time. Someone once said “a runner should always be hydrated -- a constant state of hydration”. Truth.
Ditch the FitBit
If you are always on the go and struggling to find the time to recover from your day-to-day life, why add the additional stress of wearable fitness tracker reminders and step tracking? Instead of walking in your kitchen alone late at night so that you can hit your step count for the day, spend the extra time doing whatever it takes to make your next run or workout a good one, whether that means foam rolling, catching an extra 15 minutes of sleep, or simply unplugging from your busy day.
Guest contributor/run blogger Anna Weber is a 2:38 marathoner (!) and qualified for the Olympic Trails, runs with our friends over at Oiselle (only love for them here!), a Nuun and Zensah ambassador, a chemist and a believer in karma (like us!). Follow Anna and her running career online here: Twitter @Anna_Weber413, Instagram @anna_weber413 /, blog: AnnaWeberRuns