Updated: Oct 17, 2022
What is the most important aspect of training? Rest and recovery! I’ll touch on rest days in a future training tip, but for now, I’ll touch on recovery as a whole.
Running training puts a lot of stress on our bodies, it causes breakdown all the way to the cellular level of our muscles. These muscular breakdowns can lead to growth, but only if it is paired with adequate rest and recovery. There are a lot of nice and fancy recovery products on the market, however, the MOST important recovery tools are rather simple. They involve food, sleep, water, and stress.
1) Food - Being well-fueled during and after a run is vital. There is so much research out there suggesting a combination of protein and carbohydrates within an hour after a workout to refuel faster and repair muscles. In my opinion, the most important thing is to always be well-fueled. There is no room for restrictive dieting in endurance sports, especially for female athletes.
2) Sleep - One of the most vital, but often most difficult, aspects of recovery is getting adequate sleep. When we sleep, we recover the most - our body uses this time to repair a lot of the damage we put it through during the day. When we lack sleep, we lack this vital recovery period. It’s okay if sleep isn’t a top skill, lacking sleep is often out of our control, especially when you have small children, but try to prioritize sleep whenever you can.
3) Water - Part of the muscle rebuilding process requires our muscles to be hydrated. Drink water, including electrolytes, before, during, and after your runs! Water also can help rid of muscle soreness following a tough workout.
4) Stress - This is another difficult one to control, but monitoring our stress levels can be another helpful aspect of recovery. Running causes stress to our bodies, and our bodies don’t know the difference between that and the stress from life. So, if we finish a workout and spend the rest of our day being really stressed out, our body doesn’t have time to repair itself as needed. Again, oftentimes stress can be out of our control, just like sleep, but being mindful of this stress, and prioritizing our mental well-being whenever we can is crucial.