When you're pushing the envelope of your body to be a better runner, you're doing absolutely everything you can to try to be as fast as you can, as lean as you can, as cool looking and awesome as you can be, right? You have to do everything you can to be a better runner. But the thing that you have to remember is that you have to take rest if you want to be the best runner that you can possibly be.
And because here at least in the US, we're obsessed with doing things rather than doing nothing, which is what rest is, we want to do something to recover faster. So, because you have that need, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to give you my top five suggestions on how to recover faster to be a better runner.
The whole thing about recovering and being a better runner and because you recovered has to do with the three R's: resting your body, repairing your muscles, and replenishing your energy stores. When you get these three components down, using the five methods I'm going to give you here in a second, then you know that you're doing everything you can to be a better runner. Once you've done it, you've hazing the bar, it's praise we have here in the Midwest, and just don't worry about it after that point. So, here's my five tips on how to recover faster and be a better runner.
Tip number one is active recovery. When I say active recovery, I mean you're actually going out and running or doing something. But this also means you're not going hard. This is like zone one, maybe zone two work, no harder at all. Resist the temptation to go any faster. The whole point of active recovery is to get blood flow through your muscles, get all the junk out, get nutrients in so that repair happens faster.
Now, active recovery is good for somebody who's already going to be running at least five days a week. You can add another day in for active recovery, if you like. It also has the added benefit of aerobic building, if you need more aerobic base, but if you're only running one, two, three days a week, active recovery is not going to be your best bet. Just stick with taking time off. It's gonna be as effective for you at this stage of the game as active recovery is. There are other options you can take too if you don't want to run.
One good option which you may ?? 02:35> because you're a land based athlete is to go swim. And the reason I suggest that is because you don't have the pounding on your joints, on your muscles, all that kind of stress that comes along with running when you get in the pool. You get to have some kind of aerobic activity, but you don't, you know, have all those extra tendon issues that you can run into when you're adding too many miles too quickly with running.
Now, you don't have to be an Olympic swimmer to go swim and do that as active recovery, you can just go splash around and play around in the pool, swim a few laps, just do something, move around. You can also just go for a walk. That's kind of the minimal level of active recovery that you can take. So, that's my number one tip, active recovery.
Number two, and this one should be obvious, but I'm even guilty of not doing this properly. And that is eating right for recovery. It depends on the kind of workout that you've just done, whether you need to eat immediately and replenish your glycogen stores, or whether you're simply trying to eat well all the time. But you do have to take care that you're eating properly.
One of the people I know very nice lady, former pro triathlete and 2004 Olympian, Barb Lindquist, she suggests to all the athletes, she coaches and the people she, you know, for a time, she's retired from this job now brought in from college to try to become professional triathletes, she suggests to them a 90/10 strategy.
So, you don't have to be super strict. But if you eat well 90% of the time, and that means eat your vegetables, eat fruits, stay away from doughnuts, all that kind of stuff. I won't go super deep on that right now. If you eat well, 90% of the time you indulge 10% of the time, you're going to be fine. So, you don't have to eat like a maniac.
And just say, you know, I'm only going to be this super strict. I can never have any treats or anything like that. Lord knows I enjoy ice cream. But you have to use it and I'll say moderation, but that 10%, just 10% of the time. So, if we're talking about 10% think about a month. That means three, maybe four days a month, you can have a nice treat, which should be enough. Basically once a week, have a treat, enjoy yourself. But otherwise, eat well. And that means you're going to recover better and faster.
My next suggestion for you is going to be sleep well. This means if you're you know, you have hard workout, and you've gotta party, maybe don't stay up till two in the morning. Maybe you come back and be a little bit of a party pooper. Now, this isn't to say you shouldn't enjoy yourself, you shouldn't go out and be social, you should, it's good for.
We're social creatures, you should definitely go do that. But you also have to take care of yourself, and know that if you're not getting proper sleep, you're not going to recover as fast. I mean, that's a large portion of what sleep is for. Our body goes through all kinds of processes, one of them being repairing the damage that we've done to our muscles when we're out running doing those workouts, trying to be a better runner.
So, sleep is very important. And that may mean like, in my case, investing in a nicer mattress and nicer pillows, making sure that you don't have electronics in the bedroom and you have a routine that the bed means sleep. All those kind of things build up to getting good quality sleep. Making sure your room’s dark, eliminating noise, all those kind of things.
I'm not a doctor, I don't specialize in insomnia. But I have gone through my own bouts of issues over the years. Particularly in college when the height of training stress and poor eating, I was sleeping maybe four hours a night. That year was riddled with injuries and a lot of that was resolved through finding a better number one eating pattern, like I just talked about getting better food, but also having a better place to sleep that was quieter, and set up better for me.
So, there are external stressors that make us sleep worse. Maybe I'll do another video on just sleep. If you want me to do that, leave me a comment down below, let me know. But sleep is super important to recovering. So, if you're not sleeping well and that means probably at least six hours a night, most of us, athletes are probably going to be eight or more, then make sure you're getting all the sleep that you need.
Now that we've gotten past all the should-be basic ones, let's do one of the fun ones, that's foam rolling. This is something I do habitually if I get into a rhythm, sometimes I get out of my rhythm, but I actually do this as kind of a component of sleeping well. I do this right before I go to bed as well as if I had sore or tired muscles because it helps my muscles relax, and then I feel better when I’m ready to go to sleep, particularly if I'm rolling on my back.
This is something that I found helps me personally, there are other benefits or proposed benefits of foam rolling, which include reducing inflammation, faster recovery, stretching your muscles and stretchy muscles are good in terms of power production. But it does play into it, and I'm a big believer in this, it does play into that sleep that I just mentioned in tip number three. If you roll out, right for your bed, roll your legs will your back, do your neck if you can.
There's a product I use called Roga, which has a kind of dip in the middle where you can actually use the product on your neck and not compress your spine when you’re rolling out your back. That is going to be a great way to help you get a good night's sleep and relax all those muscles so you can recover better. So, invest in a foam roller if you can. They run 30 to $50 depending on what kind of model you're getting. But if recovery is very important to you, and you want to do something, that's a good thing to invest in.
My fifth and final tip is really something not to do, but it's actually what not to do. And that is what you-- Well, I guess it is something you should do but limit the pills. Limit the alcohol. Try to avoid NSAIDs if you can, add something that you use habitually to deal with inflammation. If you have an acute injury, and you need to deal with the inflammation in the acute setting, which is it happens like this, and you need to deal with it right now. Fine, that's fine.
But don't use it as something you use all the time to deal with inflammation. There are complications like stomach ulcers that can result from habitual use of NSAIDs. But that's really not the scope of this video. They're not going to help you in the long term.
I talked about this with Christie Aschwanden in my episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast with her. If you didn't know, I have a podcast called Smart Athlete Podcast. I interview experts in athletics and other fields. Very interesting show so subscribe to the channel, check that out here in a minute. But Christie talks about this when we talked about inflammation.
We were talking about ice baths and other things that deal with inflammation. Inflammation can actually be good for you when we are trying to be a better athlete. Because it's a signal to your body that this thing needs to be repaired and built back up.
So, when you're using NSAIDs or ice sometimes too much, it reduces that inflammation, and then you get a short term gain and then you can perform again. But the long term horizon is actually hindered. Because your body didn't get that signal it needed, hey, this area is inflamed, it needs to have all this stuff to make it better and recover and repair.
So, if you're using NSAIDs habitually, that's aspirin, Tylenol, all that kind of stuff, don't rely on that. Now, I also mentioned alcohol. That's not getting rid of the inflammation, but it does pertain to that sleep if you're using alcohol to sleep.
Now, if you want to drink in a social setting, that's fine, drink in moderation. I'm not a huge drinker myself. But that's a personal choice. I'm not going to judge you. But if you're using it to sleep as a sleep aid, yes, you may be able to go to sleep easier. But there are tons of studies that have shown you're not getting quality sleep when you're using alcohol as a aid to get you to sleep.
So, that's why I say try to limit that in terms of using it for recovery. It is not a cure-all to help you get to bed easier. So, don't think it's that. Try to address your issues in other ways if sleep is such a problem that you feel like you have to use alcohol.
So, those are my five tips. If you'd like more tips on being a better runner, how to get faster, how to troubleshoot all these other kinds of things, if you'd like to check out that podcast where I interview experts and you don't just have to see my face, you get to see their beautiful shining faces. Subscribe to the channel, stick around with me, and I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.