We tend to think of pain as the result of something we’ve done, but in many cases it’s the result of having not done something.
It can be unintuitive to think this way with regard to athletics. For example, if you sprain your ankle it might have been caused by moving too rapidly, or maybe you weren’t paying enough attention to where you were going. The pain is from something we can easily point to and say, “I did that, so now I’m experiencing pain.”
Think of someone who never brushes their teeth and eventually experiences pain (and hopefully a much-needed visit to the dentist). The pain was caused by not doing something, rather than a mistaken or misperformed action.
A similar concept applies to running. Without properly recovering between runs—whether it was a competitive run or just a regular training run—you’re more likely to endure pain, cause unwanted injuries, and experience a noticeable drop in performance. Think of recovery between runs as the athletic equivalent of brushing your teeth. If you do it regularly, you won’t have to go to the dentist (or the doctor, in this case).
One of the biggest concerns shared by runners is that too long of a recovery period will result in a loss of progress. This can be true if the runner simply does nothing. Assuming you don’t have any injuries, a better way to use your downtime is with active recovery training. In other words, you do stuff other than running, preferably low-impact activities and healthy doses of self-care through good nutrition and hydration.
In today’s post, we’ll look at a few low-impact training activities and self-care tips you can do between runs so that you can give your body the recovery it needs without losing progress. We’ll start with a favorite around here:
The Most Fun Low-Impact Recovery Sport: Cycling
Running and cycling go hand-in-hand a lot more than you might think unless you already enjoy both activities. Cycling is a non-impact sport, meaning your feet aren’t beating the pavement—they’re pedaling above it. This gives you the opportunity to still get in a real heart-pumping cardiovascular workout without putting extra stress on your joints.
Cycling also has a ton of other benefits that directly improve running performance, such as building endurance, increasing circulation, and building strength.
If you’re interested in learning more about cycling, we encourage you to check out the Rocky Mountain Multisport blog, which is our sister store located right here inside Runners Roost Fort Collins.
If You Don’t Already, Consider Strength Training in Your Downtime
If you missed it, make sure to check out our post How Intelligent Strength Training Skyrockets Your Performance on the Track. In it, we go into detail about how goal-oriented strength training can offer huge benefits to runners.
If you’ve ever heard the (mostly) urban myth about how strength training can add so much muscle mass that your running performance will suffer, we also explain why that isn’t the case for nearly all runners following the right kind of workout program. In a nutshell, don’t worry—strength training will do far more good than harm in almost all scenarios.
The Trifecta of Recovery: Hydration, Nutrition, and Rest
Regardless of your training regiment between runs, the most important thing you can do to speed recovery is to give your body everything it needs, namely, hydration, nutrition, and rest.
While the marketing campaigns for the great variety of sports drinks out there can be convincing, water is still always your best bet. We’re not saying all sports drinks are bad—though some are certainly better than others—but when in doubt, go for good old H2O, and plenty of it.
As for food, you’ll want to eat meals that have a good balance of protein, vegetables, healthy fats (e.g., avocados or nuts), and a light amount of carbohydrates, generally no more than one-quarter or one-third of the meal.
If you want to be more precise about your refueling practices, start weighing yourself before a run. For each pound you lose during a run, drink at least 24 ounce of fluid/water and eat 12-15 grams of protein and 35-50 grams of carbs. Give the running a rest for the remainder of the day and you’ll be surprised at the boost of energy you have the following day.
Speaking of rest, sleep is perhaps the most important element of recovery. If you’ve had an especially intense day of training, try to make time to tack on an extra hour of sleep to your usual schedule—ideally that’s about 9 hours or so. If you’re the kind of person who sleeps a bit less or a bit more, add an extra hour to whatever your body is used to. This extra sleep time can be difficult to find, but it works wonders for speeding recovery between runs.
Come and Recover At Runners Roost in Fort Collins
Finally, don’t forget to come visit us at Runners Roost Fort Collins in the Square shopping center. We carry everything you need to maximize your running experience, from the best shoes to gear, apparel, nutrition, and more. Plus, we’re conveniently close to some really awesome running trails.
While you’re here, you should also consider getting a free gait analysis test—you just might be surprised at how much of a difference that information can make in both your running performance and your ability to recover.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to serving you!