Running is a sport that can be done anywhere and at any level. There are casual runners, long distance runners, marathoners and race athletes, all pursuing to run better. It is often the runner’s high that keeps them going – the elated feeling at the end of a good run.
Running as an exercise is extremely beneficial and is known to have great health benefits. Studies have found that 30 minutes of running every day has a positive impact on health and sleeping patterns. In fact, running is suggested for dealing with depression and mental health. It is a great way to lose calories as it promotes after burn- which is the ability of the body to burn calories after the workout is performed.
What happens to the body during running?
When you start running at first, you feel your body almost revolting against the very idea of running! Your breathing goes faster and your pulse is high. Your body starts getting warm, and you can feel your blood coursing through your body. After a while, your body gets used to this and starts improving- you start making gains in stamina and run faster and better.
Your body can transform only because of the recovery process of the body. When you run, your body is using Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP)- that are the energy molecules in the body. Your body does not have enough ATP to supply you through the run, so your body moves onto the glycogen deposits to create the ATP. This ATP then becomes ADP or Adenosine Diphosphate. Your body cannot hold ADP for longer as well and then begins to convert it back to ATP. This energy exchange causes a buildup of lactic acid, which is what causes the burn in your body!
There is a lot of muscle wear and tear as well, but you start recovering the same night. The soreness you feel is the body recovering.
Here are some things that will help you understand what to do after a long run to recover and run better –
- Hydrate as soon as you can – Your body has lost a lot of water during the running process. Even if you haven’t become a sweaty mess, your body still needs to hydrate. Water is the best way, although you can use fitness drinks to hydrate for recovery after a long run.
- Get some nutrition – Your body is craving for some energy after running. Even if you are running for weight loss, you need to eat right after a run, else your body will start depleting your muscle store. Get some nutrient-dense foods like bananas, chocolate milk or energy bars.
- Stretch, stretch, stretch – Your body is almost high strung after a run and needs to loosen up, else you will be stuck with extremely sore stubborn muscles. This is why it is very important to stretch well after a run.
- Try an ice bath – An ice bath is optional, however, it is one of the best ways to recover. A lot of professional athletes use this trick to treat muscle wear and tear. If you are into long runs regularly, then you must do this.
- Have well-balanced meals – Running is one of the most arduous forms of exercise, and you end up losing more calories from running than most of the other forms of exercise. This calls for well-balanced nutrition which includes a lot of proteins. Make sure you get this well-balanced meal within 2 to 3 hours after your run.
- Take adequate rest – Doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and this is especially crucial on the days you head out for a long run. Get at least 8 hours sleep so that your body can recuperate and your muscles can recover after the running.
- Have a warm bath to help you sleep – One of the best ways to sleep as well as recover your body is to have a warm bath right before you sleep. This relaxes your muscles and helps you sleep better.
- Soak your legs in warm water – If you cannot get into a bath and all you have is a shower, then at least give your legs a warm soak. This eases the tension in your legs and feet.
- Do leg drains – A leg drain is basically a pose where you lie down on your back with your feet up in the air propped against a wall. This will help improve your blood circulation.
- Fix a running schedule – It is advisable to plan a running schedule so that you don’t stress yourself from too much running. Your body cannot handle running long runs daily. Therefore, mix it up with other forms of exercise.
So, next time you go for a long run, remember that recovering from this run is as important as the run itself. Just follow the mentioned tips to help you recover and become a better runner!