Once you finish a long run or hard workout, it can be tempting to just crawl into bed and take a nice, long nap. Here’s why you should avoid the bed…for at least a little bit.
“Running your fastest times are about the running but also about the little extras that you do to support your running and stay injury free,” explains Chris McClung, coach, co-owner of Rogue Running and co-host of its Running Rogue podcast. “I recommend that each runner has a post-workout or post long run routine to help the body kick start recovery; it’s 15-20 minutes of work post-run in order to help you stay healthy.”
This post-run routine should include things like stretching, foam rolling, strength work and mobility drills. In addition, you should be taking time to refuel your body. You want to replenish any nutrients that were lost during activity to help fuel your recovery.
“Shoot for a balanced meal within one hour of your workout,” advises Brandice Lardner, nutrition coach and founder of Grace Filled Plate. “Thankfully, nothing tragic happens if you miss the one-hour refueling recommendation. If you need to wait more than one hour after your workout to eat, you may notice that you become irritable and exhausted. In that case, it would be wise to consume a carbohydrate based recovery drink.”
Because of how your body uses that post-workout fuel to recover, McClung explains that once you’ve missed the window, the fuel you take in will be suboptimal. He recommends that once you are done with your post-run routine, you then schedule in time to get a balanced meal in.
“Will going straight to a nap have a negative affect? Not in the short term,” he adds. “But, skipping the opportunity to do some of the extras that I mentioned will catch up to you eventually.”
Once you’ve checked off everything on your post-run to-do list? Feel free to hop in bed or on the couch for a snooze! McClung reveals that sleep is the most underrated and cheapest recovery tool. “Getting more of it will only help you as a runner,” he concludes.