Tag Archives: recovery

Running 101: Marathon Recovery

Running a marathon is hard.  Racing one is even harder.  No matter how fast you cross the finish line your body will hurt, your mind will be tired and emotions will still be running high.  After your collect that medal and celebrate with all the carbs of any kind, it’s time to start letting your body heal.  How fast and how well you treat your beat up muscles post race makes a huge marathon recoverydifference in how quickly you can get back to your regular routine.  Use these tips for high quality marathon recovery and you’ll be back on track in no time.

Keep moving.  One of the most important aspects of marathon recovery is movement.  This doesn’t mean a tough track workout two days later or taking off for another race.  Giving muscles some easy work to do the day after racing has been shown to speed recovery but it has to be just that, easy.  A slow jog, air squats, a few push-ups and 30 minutes of yoga works wonders.  Your goal should be to keep blood, nutrition and oxygen pumping to damaged muscles without any added stress.

Mobilize.  Just getting out there are easy jogging a mile or two won’t get the job done.  You need to work tired and abused joints through a full range of motion to keep fluids moving around.  This is how you make sure muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones get the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need to repair while clearing out the debris from when they got damaged.  Foam rollers, bands, softballs and a lacrosse ball are all part of a well built marathon recovery kit.  A professional sports massage is also always a good idea.

Eat up.  You definitely burned a ton of calories covering all of those miles.  Replacing them and giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair damaged muscles is paramount.  Replenish fluids with sports drinks or salted water as soon as you cross the finish line.  When your tummy is ready, chow down on calorie loaded foods like bananas and yogurt.  After chilling out, putting your feet up for a bit and processing those foods, it’s time to head for pizza and tacos.marathon recovery

Sleep.  Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you recover faster than just about anything else.  After the excitement of finishing and celebrating it can be tough to shut down.  When you get home try taking a warm bath, meditating and turning off all electronic devices.  Here’s a great piece on how a solid night’s shut eye can make a big difference in your marathon recovery.

Go easy on the celebration.  Yes, those free beers taste delicious but they’re just going to cause more trouble for your already hostile body.  Dehydrated muscles aren’t aching to lose more water.  Drink a bottle of water or sports drink before anything alcoholic then make sure you mix in plenty of other fluids with those post race cocktails.  A long walk or standing around for a little bit won’t do any harm but staying for the entire post race convert might.  You want to get off your feet for a few hours as soon as you can to start the healing process.

Freeze.  Cryotherapy and ice baths are wonderful tools to jump start marathon recovery.  Part of many runners’ regular plan cold therapies are effective and simple.  Lowering your temperature flushes waste from muscles, reducing swelling and lets them get down to business right away.  Have an ocean or lake near by?  Celebrate by jumping in!

Coach Meredith

Speed Work: Walking or Jogging Rest?

The only way we get faster is by actually running faster.  While we can’t push ourselves all the time without inviting injury, working hard is the only way we get better.  The best way to practice running faster is with interval work.  Bursts of speed with a period of standing, walking or jogging rest between repetitions.

So which kind of rest is best for you?  Jogging or walking?  The choice you end up making can play a major role in how intense your workout ends up being.  Varying the type of rest you use during a workout can also be a good gauge of how your fitness is improving.  Did you walk for rest the first few times but now jogging rest is feeling good?  As long as the work portions are jogging restthe same pace and effort, you’re clearly increasing your fitness.

Jogging Rest
While you might want to stop and stand to catch your breath, jogging rest has big benefits.  Continuing to move will help clear lactic acid and waste in muscles, keeping your body ready to work for the next repetition and workout intensity high.  Lactate levels drop the most when recovery lasts more then 90 seconds.  This length of rest is usually associated with repetitions lasting three to five minutes or longer.

Walking Rest
Slow walking has its own set of benefits.  It allows for body to recover by clearing lactic acid and muscle waste without the extra stress of having to continue working.  This is the most used and probably best choice for most basic workouts.

Standing Rest
Standing rest doesn’t keep your blood moving very much.  Bent over, panting, hands on knees standing means you’ll face a build up of lactic acid and muscle waste during your next repetition.  That makes legs feel heavy and worn out, simulating that tired feeling at the end of a race without having to rack up all the miles beforehand.  On the other hand, your supply of power creating phosphocreatine refills when you’re standing.  This type of rest is best used when you’re working on top speed.  Repeats less than 90 seconds mean you’re burning through that phosphocreatine and need to let it refresh before taking off again.

Of course, standing, walking and easy jogging rest aren’t your only options.  You can use marathon pace to recover from 10k pace intervals.  Not recovering fully between intervals will help you get tougher for race day and become more comfortable being uncomfortable.

When in doubt about what type of rest is best to get the most our of your speed session, seek the advice of a professional.  A coach can help you design the right kind of workouts to reach your goals without risking injury or overtraining.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Do You Need an Off Season?

Professional runners across all disciplines get an off season.  Whether they’re choosing to compete at certain times of the year or their sport predetermines it, they are sure to take time off between seasons.  For those of us who aren’t professional athletes, however, options to compete carry on all year long.  You can run a 5k every single weekend if you want to but you can’t race one.

If you’re just out there to get moving every time you toe the line, odds are you aren’t training at a very high level.  You might run for fun.  You might just run with friends.  If, on the other hand, you’re an age group or contending athlete your training is intense.  The more intense each training cycle is the more likely you are to need an off season.  Here are three reasons why.off season

Recover.  Injury prevention is a big reason to take an off season.  Our bodies cannot continue indefinitely to be beat up the way they are when we train and race hard all year long.  Work load is dramatically decreased, especially running, during the off season.  Both our minds and bodies need a break from the constant barrage of stimuli that come along with a hard training cycle.

Repair.  Take the time now to deal with any lingering issues.  See that physical therapist you’ve been putting off.  Get massages and take bubble baths.  Build strength in the muscles that got you through race season.  Eliminate weak spots and work towards strength goals that will help you run faster next race season.

Plan.  Goal setting is incredibly important.  Use this down time to look back at how your season went.  Why did it go that way?  Put time and effort in determining what went well and what didn’t rather than nailing each workout.  Decide what races you’ll target during your next training cycle and how to best prepare for them.  Set realistic goals based on past performances.

Taking an off season can be a wonderful training tool and a welcome break.  It’s the time to relax and have fun while letting your body heal and prepare for the next cycle of hard work.

Coach Meredith

5 Yoga Poses for Runners

Yoga is an excellent tool for runners to have in their fitness toolbox.  While they don’t need tons of static flexibility, which can actually take power away from you, it is important to have strength through a full range of motion at all joints, especially the hips.  Spending a few minutes each day going through some or all five of these yoga poses will also help relieve muscle soreness and provide relaxation.

Downward Facing Dogyoga poses
An easy pose to do just about anywhere, down dog is an excellent way to wrap up a workout.  It stretches your arms, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, calves and feet.  Hang out like your pup for up to three minutes taking deep breaths to build arm and leg strength while reaping the pose’s calming effects.

yoga posesWarrior 2
This standing pose will help you open those post run hips.  With feet 3.5-4 feet apart and your back foot turned out, reach from your shoulders with arms parallel to the ground.  Sink down until your front thigh is also parallel to the ground while your torso stays tall over your hips.  Perform on both sides to get all of the leg, hip, groin and ankle stretching and strengthening benefits.

Plankyoga poses
Of all the yoga poses, this one is one of the most simple.  Great for stabilizing your core, make sure you’re hips stay high and your shoulders are directly over your wrists or elbow when performing it.  Use this simplest plank to improve your running posture while strengthening your shoulders, arms and wrists.

Low Lunge
yoga posesThis hip opener is perfect for both before and after your run.  After stepping back with one leg be sure to keep your front shin vertical as you reach both hands to the ground on the inside of the front knee.  You’ll feel it stretch your hips, thighs and chest as you repeat it on both side.

yoga posesLegs on the Wall
You get a little help on this one.  Raising your legs vertically above your head while keeping your sit bones in contact with the ground might be the perfect pose.  It has health benefits as well as stretching ones.  It doesn’t matter how close you are to the wall in the beginning.  Tighter runners will need to be further away to keep their lower back supported.  You’ll move closer and your flexibility increases.

Add these yoga poses to your pre- and post-run routines to prevent soreness, relax and improve mobility.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips for Faster Recovery

Recovery is almost as important as your actual workout.  If you aren’t recovering from today’s workout how are you going to be ready to perform tomorrow?  The right answer is you won’t be.  Your body needs certain things pre-, post and hours after a good sweat session to get back in working order.  Here are five tips from Team ECRP that will help you feel great after today’s workout and fresh for tomorrow’s.

Eat right away.  Workouts burn through energy reserves.  If you want your body to build those stores back up, you’re going to have to feed it.  Proper nutrition after a session will help your tissues recoveryrepair. and muscles clean out any waste.  Post workout fueling should include complex carbohydrates, hydration and quality protein and occur within 30 minutes of a session.

Drink up.  Drinking fluids is important during a workout, especially for endurance athletes, but you’ll need even more when you’re finished.  Luckily, good old fashioned water is all most people need to help their muscles start the repair process.  Water helps the body get started with recovery by supporting all metabolic functions, most importantly flushing out the things that build up while you exercise and allowing much needed blood and oxygen back into torn up muscles.

Keep moving.  Beating your body up for an hour during a workout then slamming it to a stop when you fall down on the ground is asking for trouble.  It’s like crashing into a brick wall.  Cooling down properly is paramount to starting the recovery process.  Gentle movement, like walking, stretching or light yoga, is known as active recovery and are great choices.  Staying in motion promotes circulation, moving nutrients into needy muscles and waste from your workout out.  More nutrients and less waste lead to faster repair, less recoverysoreness and a better next session.

Relax.  Breathe deeply and go over your workout in your head.  If it was good, take note but if it wasn’t, learn something and move on.  While you recap, foam roll, stretch, or sit in an ice bath if you’re really in need.  If you’re lucky, you might even get a massage.  Like performing active recovery, massaging muscles promotes circulation and tissue repair.  An additional bonus:  you can do this while you eat that high quality post workout food!

Go to bed.  Sleep is the best time to recover.  When you’re snoozing the body produces essential Growth Hormone to repair and build muscles.  Getting plenty of quality sleep can lead to stronger muscles, better performance and more endurance.  You’ll also wake up with a more effectively working brain, in a better mood and a happy body.  In contrast, sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to decreases in performance, increases in recovery times and general grumpiness.

Use these tips to take your recovery plan to the next level and see the results you want sooner.

Coach Meredith

Solutions for Shin Splints

Shin splints are an annoying injury that almost every runner faces at some point during their career.  Whether you’re a 2:45 marathoner or 45 minute 5k racer, it’s one problem no one wants to face.  Identified by throbbing shin bones when running, shin splints are a painful and hobbling nuisance.  Luckily, once you’ve ruled out a stress fracture, the solution can oftentimes be a simple and easy one.  Here are three simple fixes for shin splints that Team ECRP uses over and over again to keep runners moving.

Test your shoelaces.  Sometimes the quickest way to get to the root shin splintsof your shin pain is to check the things on your feet.  Connected to your ankle and therefore your shin bone, anything awry with your foot can lead to serious problems anywhere above it.  How?  Our feet shin splintsflex to absorb impact every time we land, they move around to help us balance and are how power goes from our bodies to the ground.  If our shoes are tied too tightly we take that away from them.

Fix:  Make sure you can fit at least a finger under all of your laces except the top one.  Try different lacing styles based on your foot type.  Kicking those shin splints could be as simple as letting your feet do their jobs.

Gait Analysis: OK, it’s not the laces.  You tried loosening them and nothing changed.  The next step is to have your gait checked out.  Serious heel striking or over striding with a locked out ankle can send shock waves right up those fragile shin bones every single step.  Have a qualified coach watch to help determine if the way you run could be causing yourshin splints problem.

Fix:  Work towards shorter, softer steps.  Not all heel striking is bad but all over striding is sure to cause some trouble.  Film yourself and work with a coach to treat the source, not just the symptom.

Strength Training:  Since we always want to treat the source of an injury so it doesn’t happen again that gait analysis mentioned above is a key component of healing your hurting shins.  Weak hips or poor posture can lead to lots of problems below the knee.  Proper strength training will help prevent the overuse that typically leads to torn up shin muscles.

Fix:  Work with a coach or trainer to develop a plan that includes runner specific strength work and a gradual build up of mileage.

A completely avoidable injury, shin splints won’t sideline you again when you use these tips.

Coach Meredith