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5 Tips For Recovering From A Tough Workout

A professional runner provides insight to a better recovery.

A professional runner provides insight to a better recovery.

When it comes to tough workouts that challenge you mentally and physically, recovery is key to continue building fitness, preventing injuries and repairing broken-down muscle.

Recovery comes in many different forms such as nutrition, stretching, icing, massage, hydration and sleep. If you’re recovering at altitude, it takes even longer. And, recovery does not just matter the first few hours after, but also the next day. Fitness is built from lots of rest—the right kind of rest.

Here are five top tips for recovering from your next tough workout.

1. Practice Good Nutrition

Good nutrition after a hard workout will help repair your muscles and prepare you for the next day. It is also one of the most important keys to recovering well! Sara Hall, a professional runner for ASICS who holds personal best times like 9:39.48 for the 3000m steeplechase and 15:20 for 5000m, gives her top tip on nutrition: “I would say my No. 1 recovery tip is to get in a meal within 30 minutes after finishing your workout, and another two hours after. My first meal, I choose high-glycemic carbohydrates to be quickly absorbed at a time when your muscles are ready to take them in, and protein to help rebuild muscles that have been broken down in the workout.

“My favorite is a pancake made with Muscle Milk powder and some dark chocolate melting on top. Ideally, it is a meal that is low fat and low fiber, because those slow down the absorption of the sugar. Then, two hours later, I eat more of a standard meal with vegetables, slow-burning carbohydrates like whole grains/sweet potatoes, more protein and healthy fat.”

RELATED: Working Recovery Into Your Meals

2. Hydrate Well

Hydration is tricky. Try to take small sips instead of only drinking when you are extremely thirsty. Lack of hydration can result in pulled muscles and cramps. Mattie Suver, a professional runner for the Adidas/Boulder Running Company under the American Distance Project, finished second in the 2013 U.S. 20K Championships and owns a 1:11.56 half marathon PR. “Hydrate well. Refuel with a protein packed meal post workout. Get a good night sleep,” Suver says.

3. Stay Positive!

While recovering physically is crucial, so is recovering mentally. The ability to get through a tough workout will help you get through a tough race.

“Have a short memory,” says Josh Cox, the 50K American record holder. “All runners need to be able to turn the page after a sub-par race or workout. A bad race is just another deposit for a future performance. No run is ever wasted. Believe. Believe in your dreams. There will be days when you doubt yourself, it happens to even the most successful, but never waiver, keep your hand on the plow and bleed, sweat and claw to make your dreams a reality. And, reflect and enjoy. Don’t be so caught up in the process and the next big thing that you forget to reflect and appreciate how far you’ve already come.”

4. Get Some Zs

Most runners know that sleep is important. Sleeping consistently is even more important. If you can find a routine that works, you will have an easier time getting quality sleep. Early to bed is best. Turn off electronics and laptops early. If you have a schedule that allows for a short nap, that can help you recover quicker and more efficiently.

RELATED: Sleep Better (And Longer) To Run Better

5. Hit The Gym

Gym work can include isolated active stretching, drills, core work and even some strength training like dead lifts. The gym can also help you recover quicker. Keeping up on going to the gym just a few times a week can increase mobility, improve form and aid in recovery. The small time investment will help you in the long run!


About The Author:

Lauren Jimison is a professional runner for ASICS Mammoth Track Club in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. She graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2012 and is looking to be a fast competitor on the roads.