February 14 2018
We delve into the many reasons why taking an off-season is pertinent to runner recovery.
Courtesy of Organic Runner Mom
As any runner knows, when you start getting close to your goal race, paranoia begins to set in. When you’ve done the bulk of the work but there are still a few weeks to go until you cross the start line, anything can happen to throw a monkey wrench into the works.
At this point during training it’s time to start thinking about how to train and maintain. The first goal is to get to the start line healthy and uninjured. If that happens, then you can put your plan in place and race your heart out!
Recovery from hard workouts is important and should be taken seriously so that your body stays flexible and relaxed. If you are like me, however, sometimes recovery takes a backseat because life is busy and it is one of those things that can be easy to skip. When you schedule your workouts, make sure to plan at least 10 minutes for post-workout stretching and rolling.
Rolling can be done with any number of different tools. Some of the favorites used by runners everywhere are the Roll Recovery R8 Massage Roller, the TriggerPoint Grid and the Tiger Tail Classic Roller Massager. You can also better target specific areas of concern with running recovery tools like the Recoup Fitness Stinger, which is an ice massager, the Moji Foot Pro Massager or the RUBZ Ball. Rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that can help to release trigger points and keep your muscles loose.
Now that I’m 40 (ahem!) I have learned my lesson about the importance of cross-training. I used to run and run—and then run some more—without ever changing up what I was doing. If I had free time and needed to exercise I would lace up my shoes. This worked for a little while until it didn’t and my body quit on me, resulting in my first overuse injury. It’s okay to do high-mileage training as long as you are properly mixing up your workouts. Not every workout should be a speed workout and not every workout should be a long-distance workout.
It is definitely okay to take some time to do some other exercise as the benefits can be great on your running. Becoming a triathlete has helped me with this; over the past three years I have picked up cycling and swimming, which have many of the same cardiovascular benefits as running without the same impact on your body. I love the days when I get to take a break and do something other than run as well, because it can be a fantastic mental break. Other great activities can be nordic skiing, snowshoeing, yoga, indoor climbing and barre. Mix it up!
When your training is in full swing you need to be mindful about what you are eating. As your training volume increases you may find yourself hungry more often (or really all the time). While you may be tempted to eat whatever is in sight—especially if you head to the grocery store after a run—be sure to look for foods that are nutrient dense. You want to eat foods that will help you to restore the glycogen stores that were lost during training. You should aim to refuel with foods that are have carbohydrates and lean protein. Think about foods such as hardboiled eggs, sweet potatoes and avocado toast. Try good old chocolate milk and Skratch Labs Endurance Recovery Mix or a smoothie loaded with yogurt, spinach and lots of fruits for some great options. Also, you can grab some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. There are so many great ways to refuel to help your body to recover so that you can train and maintain.
Sleep is also an important component of recovery. I am often guilty of staying up way too late. Sometimes, it’s because I just need that time to unwind before I get to bed and get sucked into a good binge watch. At times I stay up too late working on my writing. Sometimes I have to squeeze my workouts in during the evening, so it takes awhile for my body to relax into sleep. Not getting enough sleep can impact your training because your body needs to take that time to rebuild muscles, help water to reabsorb, and to mentally refresh.
If you follow these steps you will bounce back into your next training session with a lot more spring in your step.