After a long run you’re likely to be dehydrated and fatigued, so it’s total natural to want to slump into the couch for a few hours. However the recovery from your run is just as important as logging those long hard miles, and when correctly implemented, you will bounce back quicker and be ready for your next training session.
What should I do to recover?
1. Cool down after your running session by gradually reducing your work effort so you transition from exercise back to a steady state of rest. It’s very important to not come to a complete stop after your training as this can lead to blood pooling, fainting or dizziness. The overarching goal of a cool-down is to reduce your heart and breathing rate, gradually cool your body temperature and return muscles to a resting state.
Mbition gives recommended Cool down times for each session and consist of walking and some light stretching of the major muscles groups. If certain muscles feel particularly tight, take a bit longer to stretch these.
2. Rehydrate with water and electrolytes to replace the fluids lost through exercise.
You can make your own electrolyte drink by adding a little salt to fruit juice or squash. You don't need much salt; the recommended amount of sodium is 0.7g per litre of water, which is just over 1/4 teaspoon salt (1.75g salt)
3. Refuel with a snack within 30 minutes after your run. Ideally you want to take on some carbohydrate with a small amount of protein like a slice of toast with scrambled egg, peanut butter or hummus.
A couple of hours post run have normal balanced meal to replenish those vitamins, glycogen stores and calories.
4. Rest, it may take a couple of days to completely recover from your long run so we suggest you only do light training (if any) until your body recovers. You can quicken your recovery like a pro by taking an ice bath post run as this can help to flush waste products, reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. However the research to date is inconclusive on how beneficial ice baths really are, and as with anything the results are very individual.
To sum up, recovery is important so when you hear the couch calling, take 20 minutes to recover efficiently before sitting down to watch Chariots Of Fire.