There’s more to post-run recovery than ‘eat, sleep, repeat’. Under Armour ambassador, Lionel Choong shares his top tips on bouncing back after clocking heavy mileage.
Whether you’re preparing for a marathon or going the distance to smash your running goals of the year, what you do after crossing the finish line bears the same importance as your training regimen. Long and hard runs above eight kilometres can be tough on your body. The recovery stage allows your muscles to recuperate and prevent potential injuries.
Having recently run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, founder of social enterprise Innervate Fitness and Under Armour Ambassador Lionel Choong shares his tips for a quick and proper recovery.
Rehydrate and refuel
Immediately after a long run, your body would probably crave liquids and supplementation. It’s important to watch what you put back into your body after an exhausting long run or race. Steer clear of junk food, and fuel up on nutrient-rich carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores. And no, indulging in isotonic water again and again for the next five hours isn’t going to help recovery as much – make sure you’re aware of that too.
Though obvious, you’ll be surprised at how many need the reminder. Your body needs to rest post-run. That means literally taking a break from running long distances and clocking crazy mileage. Contrary to popular belief, more is not better and planned training is best. Inadequate rest results in injuries that put you out for longer. Explore solutions that can help facilitate your recovery process; for example, Under Armour has a Recovery Sleepwear line to help athletes recover. Its bioceramic print feature is said to help restore muscle while resting, so runners can heal their body while they’re sleeping.
This might be surprising to some but post-long runs, it’s good to engage in other activities offseason. Don’t let your fitness or life revolve around running such that it becomes the only physical skill that you have. Your fitness is defined by more than just how fast or long you can run – it’s defined by agility, power, strength and more. One of the best active recovery exercises for runners is swimming. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine showed that this aerobic workout enhanced the subsequent running performance of nine triathletes, possibly due to the hydrostatic properties of water and its ability to reduce muscle inflammation. Other low-impact options that allow you to build strength and flexibility include cycling and yoga.
Besides getting physical rest, recovering mentally and emotionally is equally important. Months of training and being part of a race can be very draining from within. Take time to celebrate and enjoy the moment, regardless of your performance. Head out for a meal with your friends, and don’t be too restrictive in enjoying your achievements.
Set a new goal
Taking part in marathons or running a certain long distance shouldn’t be a bucket list kind of activity. Always strive to become better and set new goals for yourself. Think back about the run – when did you struggle most? Could you have worked on certain aspects of training to improve your performance? Reflecting about each performance is key to getting better at everything and anything.