Recovery for Runners: The Tips You Need to Know
After intense training or hard races, our runners’ legs are asking for full recovery. Our body needs rest days and proper recovery to perform on point again the next time we lace up and sweat. This is the only way we become more powerful for our next workout. To make sure that you will benefit from your recovery, it’s important to know a couple of things about recovery for runners in general. How long should you rest? What kind of nutrition is best for recovery? Find all the answers in today’s article.
Supercompensation in sport science
I get asked frequently when’s the right time to go back to training after your rest. To get a good idea of the perfect balance between intensity and rest, the supercompensation model helps a lot. Supercompensation means that the trained function is able to perform at a higher level or capacity than it was prior to the training period.
It is important for a runner to know that the next workout has to follow within the time of the highest supercompensation for the body to be able to adjust itself to a higher level of fitness during the next training session.
Good to know:
Every workout has to be followed by a perfectly planned recovery period.
Different intensities within your running training require different types and lengths of recovery. This also means that the length of supercompensation will be different every single time depending on your workout intensity.
Our muscles will recover slower or faster. A very common mistake for running beginners is to go back to training too early without proper recovery. It happened to me as well when I started running, which caused injuries, stress fractures and unplanned running pauses due to my injuries. My recommendation is at least 2 or even 3 full rest days when you will give your body time to recover. We easily forget that our system needs time to repair the muscles, joints and tissues.
Ways to maximize your post-run recovery
Did you know that your recovery starts right after your run? 30 minutes after your training, the repair process begins. This means that you have to start with hydration to refuel your tanks immediately. It is super-easy to calculate how much water you should drink per day: 30 ml x kg body weight = ml per day.
After intense training, you should drink an additional 500-1000 ml. Carbs, protein and sodium are also important after your workout to boost your recovery. For me personally, I’m fine with having my first meal approximately 1 hour after my run. But everyone is different and you have to listen to your body – it’s a great communicator.
Before bed, magnesium does help a lot to support your system. Our body needs minerals! We don’t produce them, but we sweat them out while running. Talking about sleep: Sleep is an important factor for excellent recovery. Only runners who sleep enough will give their bodies the time to fully recover from the training.
Of course, there are ways to actively support your body as well. Enjoy a great massage or go to the sauna. Especially after races, this is a well-deserved and amazing way to show self-love. A supportive family or even friends make you feel more relaxed about your training and recovery as well. I found out that there is nothing better than support from your loved ones. It’s great to have a good balance between your training goals and your daily life such as your job or family responsibilities. You will be more relaxed and focused both physically and mentally.
Supplements – What they really do for you
There are a couple of supplements that are great for runners out there which may help you with your recovery. Glutamine, BCAA’s, GABA, creatine and enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are the most common ones. I have had excellent experiences with glutamine and BCAA’s so far. Both supplements do help me a lot when it comes to my recovery process.
Glutamine and BCAA’s support you when deficiency symptoms occur and creatine gives you energy. The neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) will help you if you are suffering from sleep issues. But of course, a healthy diet is always the key to success and way more important than any supplements you will find at the pharmacy or fitness nutrition shops.
What your lifestyle tells you about your recovery
Every runner has their own individual lifestyle. Of course, this affects your recovery – good or bad. If we experience a lot of stress, are tired from work, are restless or when we are just not in the mood for anything, it is almost impossible to fully recover. Mental health is as important as your physical health.
Did you know that too much alcohol slows down your recovery? Alcohol and running are not a good combination at all. The exact opposite is happening: Instead of recovering, your body has to deal with the alcohol break down in your system.
How do you recognize proper recovery
Last but not least, it’s helpful to understand when our recovery actually benefited us. Our own feeling for our body is the most important voice we should listen to. This is also one of the main tips I always share with my clients: Listen to yourself and your body. Your feelings are the most important indicators of your own health and recovery. Additionally, your appetite can be another good indicator as well as a normal heart rate and ultimately a completely positive way of feeling inside and out. If you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, it means you are overdoing it.
Sabrina is known as runningbrina in the fitness world. As a certified running coach in New York City and Runtastic Ambassador for the US, she has combined her running training with active bodybuilding for the past two years. She shares her experiences and training and nutrition tips on her blog as well as on Instagram.