It’s coming up on March, the weather getting warmer, but you’ve been training hard and you might be a little tired, and feeling a bit beat up. That’s okay, that’s totally normal right now! Getting ready for a race is a grind, especially when you’re running in the snow and cold of a Michigan winter. First, congrats on the grind! The most worthwhile accomplishments often come with a decent degree of struggle. Second, let’s talk about some strategies to allow your body to recover a little faster and make that grind not so tough.
Below are five surefire ways to speed up your recovery and make you feel a little better going into the home stretch of your race prep.
- Eating Well & Strength Training: Pardon me for being a bit of a broken record here, but these are two things we’ve already discussed in previous blogs. Without a doubt the two best ways to ensure your body withstands the rigors of getting ready for a race is to (1) fuel it properly, and (2) strengthen it structurally. If you haven’t implemented the nutrition and strength training recommendations mentioned in previous blogs, do that first – I promise you’ll start feeling better almost immediately.
- Have Protein/Carbs post-exercise: One of the best periods of time for nutrient recovery is the 30 to 45min window after exercise. Your recovering muscles basically soak up all the nutrients you consume immediately after exercise. Doing this starts the process of refueling your muscles and rebuilding damaged tissue. Your best options for post-exercise recovery drinks are: EAS Recovery Protein or Accelerade. Having one serving of either one of these drinks can really kick start recovery.
- Sleep: Yes, sleep! This is when our body truly recovers and regenerates. All athletes need around 8 hours (or more) of sleep per night. When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone and relaxes your muscles to accelerate recovery. Set yourself up for success by setting a consistent bed time and sticking to it. Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to high quality sleep (dark room, minimal-to-no noise, comfortable temperature). Make sleep a priority, you’ll start feeling better almost immediately.
- Stretch: Post-exercise static stretching of all your running muscles is a great way to actively recover from an exercise bout (running or lifting). Even 5-10 minutes of gentle stretching after a workout can drive much needed blood flow to muscles and keep them limber workout-after-workout.
- Listen to Your Body: Sometimes you just need a day off. Athletes who recover the best are the ones who listen to their body. That doesn’t always mean taking a day off, it could mean scaling back the intensity of a workout, or doing something a little different. Having the ability to know when to scale back and when to grind on is a critical step to sustained athletic performance. Listen to your body, you’ve been around it long enough to know what it’s saying J