Written by: Jackie Leressa
Human beings are built to run long distances. When it comes to long distance or endurance running, humans can outrun most animals. It’s true! We’re not all built for speed, but the fact that we sweat means we stay cool when running in the heat. We have spring-like ligaments and tendons in our feet and legs that are crucial for running, and our short toes make us incredibly efficient. In any long distance race, we could outrun most mammals in terms of longevity and distance.
This probably shocks you, because for the average modern person, running can hurt. It’s true that human beings evolved to be excellent runners, but those sure-footed ancestors of ours also didn’t have couches, wonderfully comfortable beds, or Netflix. The fact of the matter is, running uses parts of our bodies that the average person may not use much daily. Regular running, even for seasoned athletes, can cause sore ankles and feet, stiff thighs and calves, and even an aching back. Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to stop those painful side effects of a great run. It’s all about recovery.
It can be easy to forget about the important relationship between running and recovery. Many runners build up extensive training plans, thinking about their goals for speed, time and distance. But not everyone remembers the equally important recovery plan. Elite runners or runners training for marathons might spend 1 to 4 hours a day on recovery!
The foundation of your recovery plan should be rehydration and refueling. You need to rehydrate your body within 10 to 15 minutes of completing your run. If you were sweating profusely, replacing your fluid loss is crucial. You also need to refuel. Even if you don’t immediately feel hungry after a run, your body is craving protein and carbohydrates. That doesn’t mean you should just reach for the closest candy bar, though. Look for foods with a good balance of carbs and protein-like a bagel with peanut butter or yogurt and granola.
Now that you have those steps down, it’s time to start thinking about your stretching and your muscles. You need to start stretching within 25 to 30 minutes of finishing your run. It’s the only way to increase your running performance and stay healthy and fit for the long term. You should focus on the major muscle groups in your lower body-your calves, hamstrings, glutes and hips. You can optimize your post-run stretching and save time by using a foam roller and a stretchy loop band. I recommend the RUNNING BOX from BLACKROLL. It’s all the tools you need for post-run recovery, packaged in one easy- to-carry bag.
The RUNNING BOX takes the guesswork out of recovery, stretching and injury prevention. The MINI FLOW is a small textured roller, so it’s perfect for increasing blood flow and oxygenation to your muscles through rolling and massage. The SLIM is a fascia roller designed for alleviating calf and glute soreness. And the LOOP BAND makes performing post-run squats for intense muscle-building quick and easy. It also comes with training booklets and a free app that shows you detailed exercises and stretches so you can develop your own post-run recovery plan.
Finally, remember that a well-balanced meal two to three hours after your run is going to give your body the final push into full recovery. At this point, your body needs more than fluids and a light snack. Your muscles require something substantial, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always try to plan your daily runs into a timeframe allowing you to eat a hearty meal soon after.
Thankfully, your recovery plan doesn’t have be a chore. You’re a runner and that means you’re performing the work your body was made to do! After you’ve built your recovery schedule, and you’ve invested in the right BLACKROLL running tools, remember to treat yourself to something fun and relaxing. Massages, Epsom salt baths, even a luxurious nap can all help you achieve your running and exercise goals. Have fun with it!