Recovery is very important. Training hard is what makes us become better at running, and to continually train hard, we need to recover between sessions. There are many ways to recover, whether it be stretching, ice baths, massage, or even just putting your feet up.
Recovery is something that is often overlooked, yet is a very important part of any training program. Most distance runners want to get better fast, and recovery doesn't really fit into that plan. Then again, if you have too much recovery, you will miss out on the gains of the hard work that you put in. A healthy balance needs to be established. This can be done by really understanding your body and learning when it needs rest. If your body is sore it might be time for a day off or some easier running for a couple of days. If you are actually getting worse in your sessions, it might be a sign that you're run down and you need to recover more. Try and stay in tune with your body and be honest with yourself. Nobody knows your body as well as you do.
Running, believe it or not, is actually a good form of recovery. This is often why we do our second run of the day after our hard session in the morning. A slow and easy 30 minute run will help flush the aches and pains out of the legs sometimes better than just doing nothing. Our body is so used to running that running is sometimes what we crave. The second run of the day should never be fast, it should be treated as recovery.
I've been having ice baths for as long as I can remember. Who knows if they work, because I can't remember ever not using them, but there's science behind it. Ice helps to reduce inflammation. After a hard workout where your body has copped a pounding, hopping in the ice is a great way to recover. It's better to try and get the ice bath done straight away, as the longer you leave it, the less effective it will be.
When I'm tight and sore, the best way for me to recover is through stretching and massage. When I have an injury I like hard massages to get my body back in order, bit if I'm a bit sore, I like a moderate level massage that will actually make me feel better, and not worse. Sometimes really hard massages can leave you feeling like you've been hit by a bus. A moderate massage will work out the kinks and promote blood flow to the area, aiding recovery.
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