For the initiated, running can be a great way to keep fit and healthy. It can also be a crucial ingredient in a lot of training regimes, whether for amateur sports or professional athletes. Serious runners also know just how rewarding it can be, from the long-term health benefits to the rush of endorphins and subsequent runners high, it really can be an addictive experience.
However, nearly every runner is also well aware of the potential for suffering. We finish the day mentally charged and feeling capable of anything, yet we can wake up the next day feeling as if someone has worked us over with a baseball bat in the night. To the regular passerby we must look like we are walking like we’ve been set in concrete.
Despite many of the aches and pains seeming unavoidable, there are plenty of steps and precautions we can take to minimize the impact and negate much of our suffering. From practical physical steps and best practices through to sports medicine, we understand more about the reasons we ache than ever. That’s good news for us.
Many of these might seem like common sense to the serious runners out there, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t know about some of the most basic steps to take, so please stick with us if you know some of these already.
Food and drink
It’s crucial you hydrate as soon after a hard run as possible. Even running in cold weather causes perspiration, so you desperately need to replace the lost fluids and provide your body with the hydration it needs to keep everything working at optimal levels.
Once you’ve taken care of your hydration you need to switch your focus to refueling your body. It’s important to eat carbohydrates and protein after a tough run, as ingesting food helps your body to start the recovery process. You can even chow down while performing your post-run stretches.
Stretch out those muscles
Stretching out your muscles is an important ingredient in the recovery broth. Pay particular attention to your larger muscle groups and any areas that have been particularly sore while running. Aim to perform at least 10 minutes of stretching in order to feel the benefit for your efforts.
Freeze the pain away
There’s a reason so many sportsmen, especially those prone to niggling injuries, take regular ice baths after hard training sessions. While many people complain it’s akin to torture, it really is worth harnessing your inner warrior and persevering. The initial shock to your system is always the worst. The longer you keep your lower body submerged in the icy water the easier you will find it.
Even a warm shower straight after will struggle to warm up your legs, but your muscles will thank you in the morning.
These are the nice parts. A couple of hours after your run is when you should think about eating a delicious balanced meal and really kicking back. You can take a nap, get a massage, and put your feet up. Not everyone gets the chance to do this, but if you can find the time the benefits will pay dividends.
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