I bet the feeling of post-run fulfillment is very familiar to you: you’ve struggled, you’ve sweated, you’ve finally earned rest, a few extra bites, some relaxation. After all, you’re in the middle of runner’s high: you’re in a great mood and feel stronger, even though running has tired you out.
It is precisely at this stage that it is best not to let your guard down and avoid doing things that might diminish the blessings of your training. Indeed, we will learn that, although it seems counterintuitive, what follows the run is just as important as the run itself. You know the protective varnish you put on paintings after you finish them? If you do not use it, the colors are exposed to external agents and can wash out and disappear. Similarly, if you avoid certain things at the end of your run its effect remains intact. What am I talking about?
1. Recovery begins immediately
The phase immediately following training, from the physical point of view, is the recovery phase. You’ve been struggling, you’ve been putting stress on your muscles, and now it’s time for them to regain tone. The best way to enter this phase is to accompany your body toward recovery while it is still warm from the workout: in fact, stopping right away would be like holding it back and blocking it immediately after it has gone to full speed. A 5-10 minute session of foam roller and light stretching, on the other hand, is most useful for “putting it to rest.” In fact, the foam roller stimulates circulation and thus the blood supply to the muscles, facilitating their rebuilding after the stress of running. When you use it, you should focus on particularly contracted and hardened muscles until you feel them relax. The immediate benefit is that recovery will be more effective and faster, allowing you to shorten the time until your next workout.
2. Don’t stop!
As you may have guessed, recovery does not mean stopping altogether. After you have run, you must avoid sitting-for example, for long hours at work or loafing-and instead try as much as possible to move. The ideal is to walk, perhaps at a brisker pace. In other words, it is about keeping the muscles moving with low-intensity work so that they do not become too stiff. When you can (and this always applies) walk, even when calling at home or the office or to get from one place to another. If you have a sportwatch you’ll find out how far you can go even while staying indoors, just do as much as you can while standing or walking (hey, you can also read while walking but always watch where you’re going!).
3. Treat yourself to a snack
After a workout, it can happen that one does not have a powerful urge to eat, and many take advantage of this momentary lack of appetite to not eat at all. Very wrong. Instead, the best time to do this is right in the 30 minutes following a run: this is the so-called “metabolic window”, a time when your body burns what you ingest better than at rest.
And if you don’t particularly feel like eating, make yourself something small and solid (or eat some snacks like bars but still carbohydrates and protein) or liquid, such as a nutritious smoothie. It is precisely at this stage that your body burns better what you give it, so don’t make a dietary problem of it: just remember to eat within half an hour of the end of your workout, also so that you don’t do it after two hours with the hunger of someone who hasn’t eaten for a month.
Remember-and I remind you again-that recovery is part of the workout and is not about standing still: it is a kind of dynamic recovery, even if it is done at low intensity and keeping your body’s motor idling. We are not electrical devices that turn on and off, and above all, we are made to move. Always.
(Via Runner’s Life)