What are the Best Things to do BEFORE and AFTER a Run?
The alarm buzzes and out of bed I climb. With one eye open, I groggily pull on running clothes, grab a quick granola bar, jump in the car, and head to meet my run group. My car screeches to a halt in the parking lot. Grabbing my stuff, I dash to where my run group is waiting. Panting already, I join them as we head onto the street by foot. I feel dazed as we get into our groove. I did not have any time to prepare and I am feeling stressed!!!
Does this sound familiar?!!! We all get busy in our lives and sometimes this translates into our workouts. Time is a sparse commodity and precious to us all. You can plan to do a few things before and after your run which can reward you tenfold with a successful run/race. Here are some ideas that will help you have a well prepared run, and also a few things to do afterwards to ensure a great recovery.
Set the alarm a little bit earlier than you usually do for morning runs. Plan your food ahead of time so you won’t be grabbing just anything you see in the pantry. Time is needed to process foods that include fats and protein. We definitely want a happy GI tract. Hydrate the day before and allow time for your body to digest morning coffee.
Here are some great morning rituals: Find a playlist that pumps you up and play it as you get ready to run/ or on the way to your run. This will get you into the right mindset. Set a goal for your run. Maybe you plan to run a faster pace… perhaps this is your longest distance so far…you could be running a new route… or you might have a time goal. Whatever it is, have it in place so you have a focus.
Dynamic stretches are a great way to get your body warm and moving before running. Walking on tip toes and heels will stretch your calves and shins. Skipping and lunges will wake up your legs. Tail kickers and high knees will fire up your hamstrings and glutes. Soldier kicks and leg swings will open up those hips and legs. Once the body is warmed up you can start your run.
Begin your run at the same time as your race starts. This will accustom your body to your race day breakfast.
After you have an amazing run, pamper your body so it can repair and get stronger for the next one. A 5-10 minute walk/ slow jog can help lower your heart rate and allow your body to slow down. Static stretches and rolling with a foam roller will aid with muscle soreness. Deep-tissue massage is also a fantastic tool to help muscles recover.
Food is imperative to recovery after a long run. Plan to eat a 4:1 ration of carbs to protein 30-45 minutes after your long run. Chocolate milk is always a favorite, but you can find other foods that will work as well. A good meal a few hours after your run will replenish your muscles and help them repair. Rest is something we need daily. Eight hours is a great number to shoot for. Adequate rest will always impact your running.
Sometimes life gets in the way of our training plans. My advice to you is to try and plan as best you can for success. If you are caught up in something or miss a workout, be nice to yourself. Put it behind you and concentrate for the next one!