Recovery from exercise is often an open ended question commonly asked by athletes to trainers and coaches. Why do we need recovery? What is recovery? How will recovery improve my performance? What is the best way to recover?
These are all common questions an athlete will try and seek out an answer for. So I’m going to put it simply here. Back-to-back training – like a marathon program – is important for an endurance event as it allows you to build a foundation in your fitness level to work from come race day.
So what do you need to do to recover? Firstly, KEEP MOVING! The worst possible thing you can do is go for a three-hour training run, only to come home and sit on the couch all day. This creates tight and shortened muscles, which can commonly lead to injury and lack of range of motion which will hinder your performance.
Through constant movement (walking, swimming, short running) we attract fresh blood cells to flow through to the fatigued muscles. These fresh blood cells have all the goods our muscles need to repair and recover, ready for our next session.
Stretching and rolling out any acid build-up in your muscles will help with muscles soreness the next day. Compression garments while you sleep are a great way to increase the blood flow overnight.
The final part of the picture is FUEL or FOOD. After a long run your body will be lacking the fuel it requires to begin the recovery process. Therefore we need to bring it back to a normal state to begin recovery. Carbohydrate and proteins are key.
During your run, your body will deplete sugar for energy and then slowly slow other bodily functions down to keep up the energy you need in training. When you finish, hitting your body with some carbohydrate and protein rich foods/drinks will enhance your recovery and have you ready to go for your next training session.
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By Matthew Whitehouse, Running Coach