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Running Recovery
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Training for a marathon is hard work. For weeks on end you’re adding more and more miles, working on reaching different training paces, hills, sprints…it goes on and on. For a lot of us though, something that is even harder than the running, is the recovery.

Running is a very addictive sport (see blog HERE for more on this). Research has shown running improves our mood by increasing endorphins released, reduces anxiety and depression (Markoff et al, 1982) – its no wonder we feel so good after! However, too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. A lot of runners (hands up!) are guilty of overtraining and not achieving enough recovery.

Because the focus is on miles, miles, and more miles…we forget about…our bodies!

Why is Recovery Important?

Here is a mini physiology lesson 101:

Consider this:

If you’re running 180 steps per minute , 6 minutes per mile, for 5 miles. This is about 5,400 steps .

So far so good.

Now consider the fact that every step that you take is anywhere from 1.5 – 3x your body weight.

So over this period of time you are adding a lot of load of which your body has to deal with. Whilst muscles are designed to repair from small microdamage and forces (such as through sport and running), it needs time and often assistance to do so.

To put it simply:

Running = Load

Excessive accumulative loading = most overuse running injuries

Recovery is the process of which we aim to reduce and repair from the loading we put ourselves through with running.

More specific reasons include:

  • Reduce joint stiffness
  • Reduce muscle tightness
  • Well being
  • Injury reduction
  • Enhance subsequent performance
  • Improve the removal of waste products

(Shaw et al.2017)

How much recovery do you need?


Ultimately, this will depend on what you are training for, what level you are competing at, and your genetic make up (and other contributing factors like nutrition, other cross training involved, strength etc.). Some of us repair faster and can therefore run more days in the week, whereas others  need more time between runs to reset.

Most athletes have at least 1 full day of rest. If you’re prone to injuries from overload, I would suggest a week of 3-4 runs ( which has been shown in research to improve performance times! See HERE).

What is the best way to recover from running?

According to a study looking at runners during the BUPA Great North Run in 2013, the most used recovery methods are (Shaw et al, 2017):

  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Relaxation
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Active Recovery

 

What are the benefits of Massage for Running Recovery?

The principles of massage are to:

  • Decrease edema
  • Reduce pain
  • Increase blood flow and promote healing

(Lambert, 2012)

Your muscles need blood flow to work effciently and to get all of those toxins out of the body. Massage can help speed up this process as well as help to reduce acheyness you feel from pounding on the pavement!

What type and where can I get a good massage?


  • Most physiotherapy practices provide deep tissue or soft tissue massage. If all else fails you could go to your local spa – however, you may find that puts you to sleep rather than releases your muscles.
  • A sports massage does NOT need to bruise you or be painful! Although, if you’re doing all those miles, I would expect a bit of discomfort. Your massage should start light/medium and increase in intensity as it progresses (not an elbow from the start).
  • Everyone has a slightly different pain threshold so make sure you communicate with your therapist!
  • FOAM ROLLING is a great tool in between massage periods to keep everything in check.

 

 

References

Markoff, R., Ryan, P, & Young, T, 2982. Endorphins and Mood Changes in Long Distance Running, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. Vol. 14, No.1, pp. 11-15.

Shaw, S, Smith, T., Alexanders, J., Shaw, T., Smith, L., Nevill, A., et al. 2017. The Use of Recovery Strategies Among Participants of the BUP Great North Run: A Cross- Sectional Survey, Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, Vol 26, pp. 476-485.

Mike, L. 2012. Recovery After an Ultramarathon, Marathon and Beyond, pp. 80 – 86.

 

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