Do you have a recovery day in your workout schedule?
Can you believe after posting a "Challenge Yourself Workout" yesterday, I am NOW telling you to rest and recover? Don't get too excited. Unless you have been working out 3 days in a row. . .HARD. . .keep moving! In the meantime, know in the back of your mind a recovery day is coming but you have to train hard in order to earn it.
As I get older and need more time to recover the more the word "recovery" is important to me. I remember reading and learning about Dara Torres, a 5 time Olympic medal swimmer who started to train again at 45 years of age for her 6th Olympic trip back in 2012. The one thing that she was concerned about was her recovery time. It's one thing to qualify for an event if she only had to swim her event one time but to swim it 2 - 3 times to make the finals was a challenge for her. When she was younger, like most of us, no problem! But, like all of us, age will get the best of you.
At first, I didn't believe this idea of slower recovery until it happened to me. Any run would take half a day to recover or I could just go with a minimal amount of pain. That's not the story I can stick to anymore. I have to give myself a lot of time to recover mainly in my joint areas and feet! I was also having this same discussion with one of my elite personal training buddy and she has found new ways to recover faster and safely. Yes, age has to be considered in your recovery time but everyone suffers some level of "getting back on the horse" depending on their level of athleticism and goals.
Here are some tips that can help you in your recovery. . .I would love to hear some of your ideas, comment below!
Active Rest should be priority during the first week after your big event. This is also true for any hard workout. Now the key word here is "active" rest to help increase your circulation and flush out metabolic waste. This also helps deliver blood and oxygen to your muscles to help them mend. You can do this by stretching your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes and lower back at least once a day. After each class I stress to everyone "STRETCH" whether it's immediately after the workout or during their down time. Very important to keep your body flexible.
After a long event like a half marathon and especially after a 26.2 mile run, you can re balance your joints and muscles about two weeks after your event. How do you do this?. . .get back into weight training with LOW weight. I think this is so important and make sure you get a good trainer to help you so that you are doing the RIGHT exercises properly.
I like to take about a 2 week break MAXIMUM after a long and hard race. If I go over 3 weeks, good luck! It's not good for me to take over 3 weeks because it is SO HARD to get back into the groove of things and that "motivation thing" I keep talking about. . .yeah, no good! LOL! That's why you continue with ACTIVE REST/STRETCHING and later LOW weight lifting. The next thing you need to do is return to running or sport of choice. When you do that, take it easy and ease your way back into it so that you can prevent any injuries. If you are a marathon runner, please keep in mind that it takes 3-4 weeks to recover. You have to rebuild your immune system back up and muscle depletion as well.
Other tips that I suggest:
1) Make sure you get some protein into your system within an hour after your event (preferably a liquid, because the breakdown is faster than a solid).
2) Stretching is KEY to any exercise. You have to keep your muscles flexible.
3) Get proper rest. Make sure you sleep AT LEAST 7 hours so that you can move the next day.
4) Remember, if your muscles are sore from the workout, it's working!!! You are building muscles and a strong core to be the best you can be.
5) Drink LOTS of water and SOME simple carbohydrates (Gatorade, Jelly Bellies, etc.) so that your muscles get the proper oxygen needed and keep your glycogen levels where they need to be.
As always check with your local doctor or personal trainer/ nutritionist for more detailed information.
Remember if you train hard you can recover hard!