Getting out of bed on Monday morning after a weekend of tough workouts is always a little scary. It’s the moment of truth: How are my legs going to feel? If I have done things right then my legs usually feel pretty good like they did this morning. Feeling fresh on a Monday means you can kick off your training week with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible.
Because recovery is usually overlooked, I wanted to make it memorable. Here are my 5 steps to recovery accompanied by (mostly) 00’s pop songs.
Recovery in 5 Easy Steps (In order of Operation)
1. Refuel with carbs and protein to replenish glycogen stores to help repair all those tiny tears your muscles developed on your long run. I have trouble eating right after a hard or long run so I like to make a shake. I am usually pretty tired so I tend to opt for a pre-made product and mix it with juice and fruit to give it an extra kick. I like the Cliff recovery shot in orange mango.
2. While I am sipping my delicious shake, I stretch and roll out. My stretching routine is pretty similar to the Wharton Isolated Stretching Method but I tend to hold the hip openers longer because I have really tight hips. Foam rolling is also a huge part of my routine. It hurts, sometimes I almost cry, but I find it to be really helpful in recovering faster. Science says so too. Plus, I always have the Luda song in my head while doing it.
3. It’s not fun but despite the continued debate I find a 15-20 min ice bath after a really hard long run helps my legs feel more ready to go on Monday morning. The water doesn’t have to be freezing, a bathtub full of cold water and a few handfuls of ice will be enough. Alternatively, if the run was hard or long but not hard AND long, I will ice any areas that have been giving me a little trouble. These days that’s my left knee.
4.Hydration is key! I have to work at this one but I make sure to try to drink 2 8 ounce glasses of water before my nap and I don’t drink any alcohol until I have peed.
5. I love a good post-shower nap after a long run. While the science on the benefits of napping after a long run is far from concrete, basically all the pros do it so it must be beneficial right? And boy does it feel good.
These are the 5 steps I take right after a hard workout, but what you do over the next 48 hours is important too. Eating a healthy meal Saturday night, going for a very easy recovery run on Sunday (or taking a rest day) and going to Yin yoga on Sunday afternoon also contribute to feeling good Monday am. I can’t advocate loudly enough for a weekly session of Yin (or recovery) yoga. This practice is very slow and relaxing and focuses on holding deep stretching poses for 4 minutes at a time. The poses are designed to get beyond muscle stretching and really work on the connective tissue. I freaking love it.
How do you recover from a hard workout?