3. Keep taking in fluids
You’ll likely complete your run at least slightly dehydrated, so it’s vital you continue to get fluids into your system. Your aim should be to see the colour of lemonade rather than apple juice when you head to the bathroom.
TIP: Remember to sip rather than gulp down cold water and electrolyte drinks to avoid feeling nauseous.
4. Stretch if your body needs it
Stretching after a run is a debatable subject. It’s really up to you. If stretching feels good for your body post-race, work on your calves, quads and hammies. But don’t forget other areas that may be tight, like your neck and shoulders. A non-impactful form of exercise like swimming can help stretch out all these muscles at once.
5. Look after your feet
As soon as possible, slip off your running shoes and slide into a pair of jandals or sandals to let your feet breathe and begin to heal. They’ve worked hard and they need a good airing out.
TIP: Cover or lubricate any blisters if they haven’t broken to reduce friction.
6. Take a contrast shower
These days it’s generally thought that a hot bath too soon after your run may increase inflammation. While an ice bath may actually hinder your recovery.
Taking a contrast shower is all the rage. But what is a contrast shower?
It’s simply alternating cold and hot water on your legs. Follow these steps:
- Spend a minute showering with hot water on your sore muscles – this causes vasodilation (when your blood vessels open and get bigger)
- Then shower cold water for a minute – this causes vasoconstriction (when your blood vessels close and get smaller)
Applying the contrast shower technique will help encourage oxygen-rich blood flow to your recovering legs.
TIP: Contrast soaking between a hot spring and a cold river or plunge pool, if accessible.
7. Eat a protein-rich meal
Your body will be lacking in nutrients and minerals following your herculean effort, so give it exactly what it craves. Nutrient-dense fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts and seeds will give your body the fuel it needs to begin rebuilding those overworked muscles.
8. Don’t underestimate the important role of sleep
It’s been said by top athletes that sleep is the greatest medicinal hack that didn’t get any attention. When you sleep, hormones are released to aid the repairing of micro-tears in your muscles – it’s when your body is most efficient at repairing itself.
Consider an afternoon nap and aim for at least 90 minutes. This will let your body go through a full sleep cycle.
TIP: If Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is inhibiting your sleep efforts, place a pillow under your knees to lessen muscle tension.
9. Explore deep breathing
Deep breathing techniques are as old as time itself, and have scientific backing in regards to some of their benefits. One of the most popular forms at the moment is the Wim Hof method, which involves deep breathing and retention of breath to oxygenate the blood.