Now that I have decided to run a half marathon, the frequency and distance of my runs has increased and upping the intensity means that it takes a little longer to recover. The key to half marathon prep is consistency, and although you may be tempted to quadruple your mileage in the first week of training, it’s only going to end in painful shin splints. Slow and steady wins the race and recovering after each run is just as important as the run itself. If done properly, the recovery process will allow you to sleep more, eat more and rest more whilst running faster and stronger than ever.
As a bid to stay injury free during my half marathon training, here is how I recover after a run.
Stretching is essential and I try to stretch after every run. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, other times it’s10 minutes. I like to run in the morning before work which doesn’t leave me much time between running, stretching, travelling to work and sitting at my desk before 9. So I quickly do a hamstring stretch after I finish a run, to prevent my legs from becoming stiff.
For me, the most effective and efficent hamstring stretch is simply bending over and touching my toes, with straight legs. If you struggle to reach your toes, bend your knees. And if you can touch your toes with ease, place your hands on the ground or walk your hands behind you to deepen the stretch.
I know it sounds odd to recover from a run with a run, but it’s actually what I do the day after a sprint session. After a track session, my legs are filled with lactic acid and the only way to get rid of the lactic acid is to run. Running 1-2km at a slow pace will help you to shake out your legs and reduce any stiffness or pain that you are feeling.
If you’re upping your running miles, try upping your sleeping time too. The more you demand from your body, the more it demands from you in the terms of rest and nutrition. Try to get at least 8 hours sleep per a night, if you can. And try to schedule your longer runs at the weekends or on the days where you can rest properly after a run.
If you find it hard to recover between runs, it may be because your diet is missing vital nutrients or food groups. Plan your meals as much as possible around your training, to ensure that you aren’t missing meals, and refueling after each run properly. If there’s a gap between training and meal time, bring a healthy post workout snack with you to sustain you until you get home. It takes me about 45minutes to get home after a track session, so I have a protein shake and a banana on hand to keep me until I get home.
Don’t over run
I always plan my runs in advance as it prevents me from over running. I would never do a speed session on a Tuesday followed by a speed session on a Wednesday. Not even Olympic athletes put that much pressure on their bodies. I aim to have two speed sessions a week and these are on a Wednesday and a Saturday. Monday is a fast run and on Thursday/Sunday I have slow recovery runs.
Listen to your body
The best way to recover after a run is to listen to your body. I sometimes suffer with mild shin sprints so as soon as I feel them coming on I swap my runs for another form of cardio. Luckily this doesn’t happen often, but if I rack up the miles too quickly or don’t give myself enough rest between runs, I feel it in my legs. Listen to your body, even if it means that you have to deter from your training plan. Maintaining a healthy body should be your number one priority.
If you have any other tips on how to recover between runs whilst training for a race event, leave your comments below.
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