Have you ever tried to train the next day on sore muscles? It’s not enjoyable at all and doesn’t seem productive as you limp around your favorite training course. To perform at your best and to enjoy your sport you need to focus on your post workout recovery. It’s an aspect of training that get’s little attention. For most regular people, training involves doing the sport. For runners, it’s running day in and day out. The focus is on running only and not on any of the other aspects that can help make their running better and more enjoyable.
Regardless of whether you are an elite athlete or a day-to-day casual runner I am sure you want to enjoy your training. To enjoy training each day, you should take a look at your post workout recovery as much as you do your actual training.
What really is meant by recovery?
Ian Jefffreys wrote about recovery and said that it includes the following;
1) Normalization of physiological functions (e.g., blood pressure, cardiac cycle),
2) Return to homeostasis (resting cell environment),
3) Restoration of energy stores (blood glucose and muscle glycogen), and
4) Replenishment of cellular energy enzymes (i.e., phosphofructokinase a key enzyme in carbohydrate metabolism).
Got it? Good. Basically recovery is about getting all your bodies’ normal functions back. As you can imagine, things happen to your body when you train. The stresses placed on your body cause it to react. It immediately goes into a repair mode and the time it takes to repair can be painful. Have you ever had surgery? Post surgery recovery can be worse than the actual surgery.
I want to introduce you to the post workout pyramid. Its just something simple to remember as you think about your training and recovery.
- Active Recovery
- Passive Recovery
Hands up, who doesn’t already know how important it is to be hydrated? Countless articles, television commercials and various health announcements have told this to us for years now.
How much should we drink? You will want to recover what you lost. An easy method of knowing how much this is, is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise, for each pound lost during activity, drink 24 oz. of fluid. If you haven’t lost anything noticeable, make sure you drink to quench your thirst and then a little more
You need to eat even if you don’t feel like it. After a workout your body may be telling you it’s not really hungry. Well it is. Definitely don’t skip meals, this is not going to be helpful in the long run.
You need to replace lost calories and you can do this smartly. A combination of complex carbohydrates and protein will help you replenish the glycogen depleted and aid in the speedy recovery of your muscles.
For instance, for the complex carbohydrates you can eat quinoa, brown rice and nuts. For protein, try tofu, beans and fish.
This point almost is no brainer right. We all feel like we should get more sleep anyway. With busy lives there just doesn’t seem to be as much time for sleep.
Sleep is vital to the recovery process and not getting enough is not helpful. Think of the word “debt.” When you are at a sleep deficit or have built up “sleep debt” you are going to run into trouble quickly. Lack of sleep decreases the time the body has to begin doing what it needs to do to repair itself. On top of this, when you add stress to it through exersice along with regular life you begin to do harm.
The Sports Lab in New York says that you need 7-9 hours each night. Wow! Okay I know many of you reading this article will say, no way! That’s just too much, I cannot do it. Here is how I look at it. Make those 7 hours a goal and try to get as close to it as often as you can. Even if you can’t get them, try to get them.
Active recovery is the process of engaging in low intensity activity to recover quicker and more comfortably rather than simply doing nothing. In years gone by it was thought that the best method for recovery at this phase was to rest. This has now been found to not be true. For your body to recover faster, it is better to do something at low intensity. For instance, walking, cycling, swimming, light weights are fabulous low intensity activities.
Two benefits of Active Recovery
- Reduces the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, reducing post workout stiffness.
- Promotes blood flow to the joints and muscles, counteracting the effects of inflammation.
Passive recovery are those days you have to just simply take off and do nothing. Working out and performing at your best is not all about going all the time. There are days you have to be off such as when injured, sick or your body just can’t go. Besides the physical rest that your body will get, the mind too will feel rested with a day or two off.
If you still want to do something during this rest day you can get a massage or use some technology like a PowerDot which is a muscle stimulator that will help blood get to your muscles.