10 Things to Do Before and After Your Runs to Shorten Recovery Time - Chi Living

10 Things to Do Before and After Your Runs to Shorten Recovery Time

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Tue May 17th, 2016, 10 comments

10 Things to Do Before and After Your Runs to Shorten Recovery Time

How many times have you gone out for a run and felt like your legs were made of concrete, or worse? Well, let me clue you in on a little secret. They might not feel so bad from something you did as from something that you didn't do. Many people don't realize that it's important to treat your legs well during the time between runs in order to optimize the enjoyment of your workouts. 

Before Running…
1. Let's start with getting ready to run. First, drink at least 8oz. of water a half hour before heading out to keep you from getting dehydrated. If you're going for longer than a 10K you might consider taking a water bottle or planning a route that has a water stop along the way. Keeping well hydrated will keep your legs from cramping, especially in hot weather.

2. Next, before you take off, check to make sure that your shoes aren't too tight. If they are you might feel a little pain in the arch of your foot when you start running. Also, ask yourself, "How many miles do I have on these shoes?" If it's  more than 500 miles, the mid-soles might be compressed beyond their ability to return to normal between runs. Running is a relatively inexpensive sport and you don't want to be skimping in this area.

3. I'm not a big proponent of stretching before running but I highly recommend it after you've finished running. If you've taken the Level I ChiRunning class then you have learned the "body looseners" which are a great way to get your body loose and relaxed before heading out.  Be sure to start off your runs with a very relaxed and easy stride…not too fast. As you feel more warmed up you can increase your pace slowly until you're running at the level that you'd like to be. If you start off too fast you risk running out of gas early in your run and your legs will feel more sore afterwards.

After Running…
4. The time period immediately after your run is when you can do the most to insure that your legs will be fresh and ready for your next workout. After a 3-5 minute cool down jog do your stretches…and take your time. Don't just jump back into your car and head off to your next event or you could be walking around with tight legs for the rest of the day. Doing a cool down and stretching period allows the lactic acid (the waste product created by your muscles) to be "flushed" out into your bloodstream and eliminated from your body. If it is allowed to linger in your system, studies show that it turns to concrete, or worse.  

5. If you have the luxury of being able to take a hot bath or a hot tub after your workout, do it. Soaking your legs allows your muscles to be warmed and relaxed back into their normal shape so that they can move on into the day in a more cohered state. Following your bath, a cold soak for your legs will help to freshen them. A shower doesn't work as well, unfortunately, but it's still good for your legs if a bath is out of the question.

6. When you're finished with your bath you should do some "leg drains" by lying on your back with your feet propped up against a wall for 3-4 minutes. This will allow the blood to drain out of your legs so that fresh clean blood can be pumped back into them when you stand up. You can do leg drains either immediately after stretching or after your bath.  Either way, you'll notice a markedly different pair of legs under you when you get up. 

7. If you've just done a strenuous workout, one of your next two meals should be a solid protein meal which helps your muscles to rebuild themselves. It's also good to get in a hearty green salad with lots of fresh greens and vegetables which will help you to put valuable minerals back into your system.  

8. Are you the type that likes to plan ahead? If you are,  you can eat a good carbohydrate meal the evening before a strenuous workout. This "high octane fuel" will help your workout to go much better. A heavy meal eaten the night before a hard workout might not be fully digested by the time you go out to run which will slow you down considerably. 

9. Speaking of eating before running…if you eat before you run, be sure that it's at least 3 hours before. Almost nothing you eat immediately before a run will be far enough into your system to help you during your run. If you do have to eat before running just be sure that it's not a big meal or you might end up with heartburn, stomach ache, side stitches, or be leaving it on the road somewhere. I've never heard of anyone starving to death on a run. In fact, if I'm hungry before I go running, it usually subsides within the first mile or two.  It's best to run on an empty stomach, even on race days. Eating well the night before allows you to just get up, get dressed, and head out in the morning. The biggest decision you might have to face is which way to turn.

10. The last thing I'll mention is that whether or not you're a regular runner you should be drinking water all day long. Five to eight glasses of water spread out through the day allow you to replenish the fluid lost to exercise. Don’t drink your water all at once. Just keep an even flow going. 

The more time you spend taking care of your body between runs, the more it will reward you with many years of enjoyable workouts. You'll also notice an increase in your performance levels. It's a Universal Law: the more time you spend preparing for something, the better the results.

©2016 ChiRunning   Danny Dreyer

10 CommentsLeave a comment below

I used to run 3k thrice a week.My recovery used to take very long. I started chiropractic treatment and Currently I run 4k 5 days a week with quick recovery in between.

Janet Wilcox May 18th, 2016 04:14pm

Great advise! May I share with my running buddies locally. Just getting into Chi Running and hoping to find an instructor in the near future. I am VERY enthusiastic, have the running and walking books and just got the running app. Lots to digest.

Great article Danny! Defiantly learned a lot from this article.

I have a follow-up question to point #4.

1.) What are the “best/most effective” post run/races stretches one should perform?

2.)Would using a foam roller or hand rollers immediately after a run/race. Be another useful post run recovery item to perform?

Jo D. Saffeir May 19th, 2016 07:28am

Rock solid advice! Just the reminder I needed of the things I already knew but was getting sloppy about!

Hi Danny great article, are there any chi running classes in sligo/leitrim area, ireland

Judy Bechtel May 20th, 2016 10:10am

I like to drink 1 cup warmed organic chicken bone broth - 9 grams of protein after a run. I also add some anti-inflammatory spices- ginger, tumeric etc. It works wonders!

trevor OBrien May 23rd, 2016 08:08pm

Hi Danny, I have only discoved Chi running last week, and am very excited about it. It makes sense, and as i am a Masters age sprinter trying to attain distance running and going through the exhaustion and leg development stages, (two steps foraward one step back) I find Chi running has me bringing my stride back and enjoying the run and not beating my body up. you talked about a warm bath / heat after the run, and I have been applying ice after my runs, can you clarify
which is the best way to go. Trevor

Dr Suhas Kulkarni May 27th, 2016 01:51pm

very much informative and nice article

I believe in Chi Running wholeheartedly. I tried to enroll for the workshop held in Hong Kong recently, as I reside in Malaysia. Unfortunately, my emails were not entertained. I would like to become a Chi Instructor, so I can help others get healthier the injury free Chi way. Will there be any upcoming workshops in the Asian region?

hi Brian, I am Jane Tse, Regional Director of China and Hong Kong.  Sorry that we have missed your message. Please contact me direct at Jane@chirunning.hk, we have running club,  regular workshops and private tutorials.

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