Feeling great: Tips on how to recover after a run

Great North Run 2017 finishers.
Great North Run 2017 finishers.

So the Great North Run is over and if you took part I hope you enjoyed it! In the build up to the run a lot of preparation goes in. You spend weeks, sometimes months training and building up your stamina, you stretch and you might even adjust what you eat to fuel your run.

But what about after the run? What do you do once the run is over to make sure you recover quickly, and are able to get back to exercise without the post-run aches?

In the lead up to the run I got asked by a patient of ours, Jane, this question:

“Hey Paul, this is my first time running such a long distance, once I get to the finish line, how do I recover from the run? I am not looking forward to the day after!!”

This is a question that runs through a lot of people’s minds (not just first time runners!), and while there may be runners who will vow to never run again, many will catch the running bug — and can’t wait to train for their next big event.

Whatever the case may be for you, before you run again, (or jump right back into any form of exercise), my tip is to allow your body to recover from running (with a touch of walking!) straight after you exercise.

Now, it may be tempting to “veg out” for a while after completing a big run, but if you can’t wait to run again (or at least walk normally instead of hobbling around) - here’s 5 tips I give to my patients to help their bodies recover quickly, and get back to exercise right away:

1. Walk it out - right after a run, you should continue to move to help reduce any stiffness - walking for just a mile should be sufficient. Even if that means walking back to your car, or your house, walking will keep your blood flowing to repair your muscles as quickly as possible.

2. Ice - all the pros do it, so why shouldn’t you? It may sound a bit off putting, but immersing your legs in an ice bath will significantly reduce muscle soreness, so you won’t be left feeling like you can’t move for days and days after!

If any areas are more painful than others, apply ice packs to the sore areas the day after to speed up recovery.

3. Plenty of water - it’s key to keep hydrated after any form of exercise to replenish your muscles. It’s also important to refuel with a snack too, to keep your energy levels up, and to reduce soreness the next day.

4. Roll it out - for DIY relief, try foam rolling to help alleviate built up muscle tension and pain. If you don’t have a foam roller, (or you’re not sure what one is!), a golf, or tennis ball should also do the trick.

5. And, stretch - stretching straight after a run will help reduce your risk of injury and will keep your body moving. Make sure you focus on stretching your whole body - other wise you’ll definitely be feeling muscles you never knew you had the next day!

If you like to run, or keep active and healthy in general, you can get more tips like this in detail when take a look at my book, “The Healthy Habit” here: http://www.thehealthyhabitbook.com - essential reading for people 50+ who love to keep active and stay healthy.