Optimal recovery during training and after races is vital to prevent injury as well as facilitate a faster return to peak performance. When we neglect recovery, tissue breakdown will overtake repair, thus predisposing us to injury. In contrast, maintaining the right balance between training and recovery will decrease our risk of injury.

Recovery, for me, is about eating and sleeping well. Below is my 4-step plan for optimal recovery.

A 4-step plan for optimal recovery:

1. Sleep

Sleep is a secret weapon. The primary restorative functions in the body occur during sleep. During the deep sleep phase, your pituitary gland releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Lack of sleep and changes in sleep quality causes a sharp decline in growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with loss of muscle mass and reduced exercise capacity. It is, therefore, essential to get 8-hours of shut-eye to facilitate optimal recovery.

2. Eat

Every athlete knows that a proper nutrition plan is key in providing the building blocks for post-exercise recovery. We also know that poor nutrition is linked to a higher risk of injury. Include enough high-quality protein (1.2-1.5g/kg BW) and calcium-rich foods to ensure optimal muscle and bone repair after training and racing.

3. Active Recovery

The purpose of active recovery is to engage muscles that are tired and sore from training or racing. Active recovery focuses on completing a workout at a low intensity. Improved circulation during low-intensity workouts helps to remove lactic acid from the muscles, improving muscle recovery. Any light exercise that gets the blood flowing without stressing the muscles will do. Cross-training such as swimming, yoga, walking and cycling are good low-intensity workouts. Aim for 20-30 minutes of easy exercise.

4. Other Recovery Interventions

Massage, cryotherapy (ice baths) and the use of compression garments have also been found to be beneficial during post-race recovery. Although the benefits are shown to be mostly due to the placebo effect, many athletes report that massage, cryotherapy and foam rolling reduce perceived muscle soreness after hard workouts and races.

Remember, recovery starts the moment you cross the finish line. 

Happy Running

Tarrin

Ps. If you find yourself losing motivation in the middle of your training plan as a self-coached athlete, we can provide you with a structured approach that maximises your time & enjoyment, while getting you much closer to those running goals of your dreams. Fill in the form below and let’s talk about your running future!

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