This list of some of the worst mistakes runners could make will help you avoid falling into bad habits post-run:
You don’t reflect
We don’t expect you to pull out your yoga mat, strike a meditative pose and reflect deeply about the highs and lows of your last training session. Yet post-run you should have a think about how things went, even if it’s just whilst you are taking a shower. Ask yourself things like: did I feel strong or weak? What time did I get? How did this run compare to my last run?
Asking yourself questions like this and examining your performance will help you gauge how well you are progressing and will give you ideas for what you should be doing on your next run. Remember, if you want to improve your run shouldn’t end when you walk through your front door. The more attention and mind-space you give to your running sessions the more you’ll get out of them.
You pig out
Every runner needs to refuel after a run and you should aim to eat a decent meal that contains slow release carbohydrates and protein within two hours of finishing your run. Yet aside from this meal, just because you went for a run this does not mean you can pig out on cakes or chocolate.
A lot of people believe that just because they have done some exercise they have earned the right to eat any food they want. The reality is that the 30 minute training session you just completed probably would only burn off the calorie equivalent of a typical 45g chocolate bar. Obviously how much you weigh and what running speed and intensity you run at affects the amount you burn, but the rule remains the same: you should not pig out after a run or you will undo your good work.
You had to stop halfway up the big hill to catch your breath and you felt sluggish and slow throughout your run – so what? Setbacks and dips in progress happen in running. It’s part of the sport and the worst thing you can do after your run is to be too hard on yourself and fret over the state of your fitness.
Regressions in your abilities can occur for a number of reasons. For example, if you’ve been injured for a few weeks you can expect to lose a few months’ progress and if you are fatigued or have been eating badly you should expect a poor performance. All of these things will happen to you eventually though and you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. If you are your motivation will drop and you will either put off or dread your next run which will detrimentally affect your next performance too. Instead put your session down to a bad day and move on from it. The worst thing you can do is dwell.
You get in a hot tub
Dragging your aching and tired body into a hot tub after a serious session might sound like the perfect way to unwind, but it won’t do anything for your muscles. Although hot and cold treatments work well when used together, a hot tub can only help you once the pain has stopped.
The best way to relieve your muscles and aid recovery after your run is to use a combination of ice treatments and heat treatments. First use ice to reduce any soreness and swelling. You can either fill a bath with ice cubes and cold water or apply a bag of peas or an ice pack onto the aching muscles. Once the pain has subsided after a few days of ice and rest you can then use heat to help relieve muscle pain, either through a hot tub or a bath, or by using heat treatments.
You kick off your shoes
Your running shoes are important and if you kick off your shoes after a run leaving them unclean and wet you are asking for trouble. Leaving your shoes muddy and damp will perish the rubber. Plus the stitching will degenerate, meaning that it will eventually snap. To avoid having to prematurely replace your expensive running shoes lightly brush your shoes using lukewarm water to remove the dirt, then let your shoes dry naturally.
Equally as bad as leaving your shoes wet and dirty until your next run is putting your shoes in the washing machine. A machine wash may remove the grime and muck from your running shoes but it will also break down the materials and affect the glue on your running shoe. Again, treating your shoes in this way will mean you’ll be returning to the sports shop to replace your footwear sooner than necessary.