The Importance of Recovery
What is Recovery?
Recovery can be a touchy subject for some runners. Most of us understand that we need to include rest into our training schedules to really reap the benefits of our training, but sometimes we can't help but feel guilty for taking the day off. I'm here to tell you don't feel guilty because your body needs that rest!
Reasons Why Recovery is Important
Allows Time for Adaptation
Running follows the Principle of Progressive Overload which states: “In order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.” This basically means you need the workout to provide the stress that will make your body adapt and grow, but you'll need the rest to reap the benefits of your hard work. The rest will allow your body to absorb the work you've put in and allow your body to adapt physiologically.
Prevents Overuse Injuries
Proper rest is important for injury prevention. Running causes micro damage to your body. Without proper rest and recovery between training sessions you'll be more prone to overuse injuries such as stress fractures.
Gives You Time to Recharge Mentally
Mental burnout is a common issue among runner who never rest. Having a rest day every once in a while will allow your brain to recharge too. Having a rest day can give you time to catch up on chores you've been putting on hold or work on other hobbies other than running.
When you're not getting enough rest it can be hard to push through your workouts because your body already feels fatigued. Proper recovery will help you adapt and will allow you to train harder during your workouts. This will help improve your overall performance!
Ways to Recover
Don't Forget the Cool-down!
Cooling down properly should not be neglected! Suddenly stopping can lead to risks such as blood pooling and cause your blood pressure to drop. A proper cool down can also help clear out the lactic acid build up from a hard session and may even help minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Fuel Your Body
After a hard training session it is important to fuel your body afterwards. Try to eat within an hour after your workout. Research has shown that this window is when your body is the most receptive to refilling its glycogen stores.
Stay Hydrated! Everyone requires different levels of hydration but try your best to keep thirst at bay throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to try to drink enough to need to use the restroom every 3 to 4 hours.
Put Your Feet Up!
Legs up the wall! Inverting your body like this aids your overall recovery because you allow the blood that has been pooling in your feet all day to drain while also stretching your hamstrings. Studies have shown that inverting your body may help promote circulation and reduce swelling in your legs.
Get a Good Night's Sleep
Sleep is the key to recovery in my opinion. It's okay to have a lousy night's sleep once in a while, but you want to try to make sure you're getting adequate amounts of sleep regularly. Regularly getting inadequate amounts of sleep will take a heavy toll on you. Lack of sleep will effect your hormone levels that relate to stress, muscle recovery, and general mood. Try to aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you're having difficulty getting a full night's rest try out the following tips:
Set up a wind down routine. For example, set an alarm for bed time, which will let you know it's time to start winding down.
Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.
Establish a schedule and go to bed and wake up at the same time daily (Even on the weekends).
Keep distractions to a minimum. Stop using TVs, phones, etc. 30 minutes before bed, consider this a part of your wind down routine.
Compression socks have been pretty popular for recovery within the past couple years. Their usefulness during training is still up for debate, but they may help with recovery. Using compression sock for recovery may help improve circulation and blood flow, which are both beneficial for recovery.