Endurance training can take its toll on your body. If you don’t allow your body to recover properly, you can do some serious damage. We caught up with Jess Fraser, Yoga Teacher, Challenge Lover and Running Enthusiast at FLY LDN, who explains how to maximise and speed up muscle recovery time to avoid injury and return to training faster…
It’s no secret that competing in any endurance style training will take its toll on your body. The
average person, depending upon height, will take between 35,000 to 50,000 steps to run a
marathon – and that’s in addition to all the steps you take while training. This is why rest is a vital part of your training plan both in the lead up to race day and afterward too.
Rest is so much more than a four-letter word. It is vital for muscle recovery and recuperation, to ensure the body can adapt and get stronger every time we train. You can do some serious damage if proper recovery measures aren’t put in place.
Here are some of the best ways to speed up your muscle recovery time following endurance training…
1. Try yoga & mobility training
Yoga and mobility training are fantastic for complimenting your running training and a great
option for post-race day rehab too. Most people think of yoga as simply stretching but it
combines balance, core, flexibility and mobility work, all of which is vital cross-training for
endurance athletes. It also helps you to improve your mental focus and breathing efficiency for
Strengthening your core and stabiliser muscles will help you sustain good running form and keep you moving efficiently for longer without fatigue. Flexibility and mobility work will prevent stiffness and maintain range of motion. Weave yoga classes in the focus on balance, stability and recovery.
Try FLY LDN’s Slow Flow class, a slower-paced class incorporating longer stretches, core and balance work. On your rest day? Try their restorative CHILL class, a passive stretch class based on the fundamentals of yin yoga using props to help the body relax into deep stretches – perfect for supporting challenge training, myofacial release and aiding sleep.
2. Try a low-impact pilates class
Pilates is another excellent choice of complimentary training for a runner as it is very low impact so it will not place the body under further stress but will still strengthen the very important core stabilising muscles needed for running.
Many Pilates workouts incorporate upper body work, especially the back, and hamstring and glute work which helps runners who are quad-dominant. It will also helps to correct any little imbalances in the body by improving alignment which will ensure that you avoid any unwanted injuries in the lead up to race day.
Check out some FLY LDN’s amazing Pilates classes. With a strong focus on form and core strength, we use body weight and props for a balanced full body workout.
3. Try Epsom salt baths to boost muscle recovery
After a long day of training, a warm Epsom salt bath is my go-to for recovery. When placed in water, Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate. The theory is that when you soak in an Epsom salt bath, these minerals get absorbed into your body through the skin.
This helps to relax tense muscles, reduce swelling and pain after training sessions and help the overall recovery process of fatigued muscles.
4. Get a muscle recovery massage
Try to get a regular massage during your training to help to speed up your recovery and maintain performance. The benefits of a sports massage for any athletes are endless. It will help to pump blood and lymphatic fluids around your body, increase your tissue permeability and elasticity, reduce running pains and ensure that you avoid injury to name a few.
After race day, book yourself in for a sports or deep tissue massage. Make sure to always communicate with your massage therapist and let them know where you feel any particular stiffness or soreness. Massages are also a great place to switch off from the world and your training programme, so not only will it good be good for the body it will massively benefit the mind as well.
If you are pushed for time and find it hard to get to a massage therapist as often as you would like make sure to get in as many foam rolling sessions at home as you can which are also great for ironing out any knots and niggles in the body.
4. Prioritise sleep to support muscle recovery
It may sound obvious, but sleep is probably the most important component of all. Your body does some of its best work while you’re asleep. Excessive, cardio-intensive exercise, in particular, can lead to elevates cortisol levels which is know as ‘the stress hormone’. Exercise is important, but doing too much, coupled with failing to provide your body with the rest that it needs will cause a cortisol spike.
Make sure you maintain your early nights for big training days and especially for at the first few days after your challenge. Keep devices out of the bedroom and avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evenings. I have also found that a regular meditation practice for 20 minutes in the evenings helps me to nod off, if you struggle with this try using the Headspace app.
CBD is also a great way to manage and improve the health and wellbeing of the body and mind. I have also been using the Pure Sports CBD products to aid recovery and help to switch off and I can’t recommend them enough.
5. Nutrition advice for muscle recovery
Nutrition is extremely vital in training and recovering from your challenge. During long runs and training days you will be burning more calories than you were before and you need to replace them. Food is fuel.
Don’t be afraid of carbs – they will become your best friend! Carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver, in addition to any carbohydrates eaten on the run help runners keep their energy levels high, prevent blood sugar from dropping and help replenish glycogen levels for speedier recovery. I have learned the importance of fuelling on long runs the hard way: just as gasoline powers a car, food powers your runs. There is little or no benefit to fasted training.
Make sure you have enough fuel to sustain you on race day and stay hydrated throughout. Eat something sugary and packed with carbs as soon as you are finished with your challenge. This could be anything from a banana to a chocolate bar. A sugary drink is also a great thing to quickly consume and helps rehydrate you quickly.
Over the next few days your body will still be burning a lot of calories and energy, don’t forget that your body will need high-quality nutrition to recover.