Like yin and yang, running and recovery go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other! Remember your first run? You were probably feeling tired and already looking to recover. New runners and veteran runners alike can up their recovery game with some of my favorite recovery tools for runners.
Hydration and Fueling
Let’s start with the most basic recovery tools for runners in the world. What you consume matters! Proper hydration is essential for your blood flow to internally carry white blood cells to your muscles. And your sore tired muscles need these white blood cells for recovery! Speed up the process and ensure that your body is efficiently getting this job done by being fully hydrated. Rule of thumb: the amount of water you should consume is half of your body weight, in ounces. That means a 150 pound person should drink 75 ounces of water a day. If you exercise, you need to increase this amount. If it is humid out, you also need to increase this amount. Think about it this way, however much you sweat, you need to drink that much water to replace
Fueling means consuming the right balances of macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) and micronutrients (vitamin C, potassium, magnesium). There’s a lot of details involved with fueling that could comprise of an entire extra post (or schedule a nutrition consult with me). For now, I’ll keep it simple with some general thoughts. Rule of thumb, you need to consume at least 100 calories within 60 minutes of finishing an exercise session. And this fuel needs to have a ratio containing both carbs and protein. For recovery centered fueling, when you are extra sore and trying to recover as fast as possible, I increase my protein intake. Protein is needed for your muscles to build back up, now is the time. Personally, this means a cup of cottage cheese, a protein shake, or at times a big meal like a cheeseburger. Calories are needed, and while something that provides micronutrients is good (like veggies and fruits), it’s better to have a cheeseburger than to go hungry.
Another favorite on the list of recovery tools for runners that’s as old as can be, no fancy tricks here! I recommend to my runners the Youtube Chanel ‘Yoga with Adrienne‘ as a good starting spot. Stretching really can make a difference! That can be in the form of yoga, or static stretches. For a basic, starter, yoga mat (click here). For some ideas on static stretches good for runners, send me a message and I’ll email you my guide.
These are easy to get off of Amazon (use link here and here). They are also very easy to implement. Wear compression sleeves when you are lounging around home, sitting on the couch, or watching TV. Simple as that! Compression sleeves are designed to provide light compression to the area they cover. This promotes blood flow to the compressed region. And increased blood flow means your body is able to deliver more white blood cells to the muscle. That’s exactly what you want! Even when I’m not sore, I’ll wear these around the house. Word of caution: I don’t advise sleeping in them. Once I wore calf compression sleeves overnight and the tightness was on too long, leaving a bruise on my leg. Other than that these things are pretty foolproof!
This is another easy acquisition from Amazon (see link here)! This is my hands-down favorite way to recover. I even bring this as my one recovery tool when I travel (see running while traveling series here). A lacrosse ball provides the correct amount of firmness (a bit more than a tennis ball and a bit less than a baseball). Place the ball on the floor, and move it around under your bare foot. This is perfect for massaging the arch of your foot! Another favorite of mine is to stand against a wall, put the lacrosse ball between your shoulder blade and the wall, and move it around to hit all the knots in your back. Routine use of this technique can be as effective as a sports massage.
r8 Roller from Roll Recovery
This is my top recommended gadget (see link here). I gifted this to myself last Christmas and never looked back. This is a rolling device that is an elevated foam roller where you do less rolling around on the floor. Sit down or stand up, and use the r8 over your legs. This is excellent for massaging the quads, hamstrings, IT band, calves, etc. You won’t have to put much effort in, the roller has an automatic compression system that will apply a good amount of pressure to the muscle (you won’t have to squeeze it). Don’t worry, as someone on the smaller physical side, the compression isn’t too much! It’s been designed by runners and the founders of the company have collaborated with many professional runners. They know what they are doing! I highly recommend
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt is an easy thing to pick up at CVS or amazon (see link here). The best brand is Dr. Teals and you can even find various scents that add a nice touch. When my muscles are particularly sore, I’ll fill a bathtub with a good cup or two of epsom salt and soak for about 10-20 minutes. Add a book and it can be a really nice relaxing time! It also does wonders on your muscles. Epsom salt contains magnesium, one of the key micronutrients needed for muscle recovery. Remember from high school chemistry there was something called the ATP synthesis? For your muscles to repair, it needs it’s magnesium. Why not try literally soaking in it?