The 5 Worst Things To Do After Your Run
While running can become routine after a certain amount of time, there definitely are ways you can sabotage your workout efforts if you do certain things incorrectly right after your run. From my experience of working with runners and athletes over the years, here are my top five worst things to do post-run.
1. You stay in your running clothes:
Get out of damp gear immediately. Even if you didn’t sweat that much, worn or soggy clothing is an environment bacteria love to cling to, and it can also give you a deep chill that is hard to recover from – even on a warm summer day.
Regardless of whether you can shower right away or not, change your clothes, socks, and shoes immediately to keep your muscles warm and loose. This promotes good circulation, which aids the recovery process after a run. And keeping the blood flowing is essential for delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrients while it also whisks away metabolic waste products.
It always feels good to get out of running shoes after a tough run, but be sure to put on a supportive pair of shoes or sandals if your legs or feet are feeling especially spent. The muscles in your feet also get tired, so your post-run shoes need to have good support.
2. You become a couch potato:
It’s easy to feel like you’ve earned a day on the sofa, binge-watching TV, when a good training run is completed. Don’t succumb to this. Light activity is a great recovery tool because it keeps blood moving in your body, aiding your recovery by repairing and refueling your body. (Check out this perfect recovery routine for after a run or your rest days.)
Plan some light activity throughout the day, even if you are headed to work. Get up, walk around, do some gentle stretches while standing, and breathe deeply. If you are going to be sitting or standing a good part of the day after a run, consider wearing some compression socks to help keep blood from pooling in your lower legs.
3. You don’t refuel right:
Plan to drink and eat after your runs, preferably within 20 to 30 minutes of finishing. If you are headed right to work, or have other commitments immediately after a run, pack a cooler with some healthy snacks beforehand so you can grab and go – possibly even eating in the car.
Be sure your snacks include protein, a little fat, and some complex carbohydrates for replenishing energy needs. Good options include low-fat chocolate milk, a chicken sandwich on wholewheat bread, almonds, fruit, or yoghurt. (These packable snacks can also keep you properly nourished.) Keep plenty of water on hand, too, so you can rehydrate throughout the day. And as easy as it is to do, avoid the other extreme of pigging out after a long run. Don’t rationalise that you can eat anything you want because you ran long today. Replacing calories burned on a run is all too easy, so don’t undo all your hard work by out-eating your running!
4. You do heavy chores:
It sounds good at first: while sweaty, why not do the yard work when you get home before getting cleaned up? You could mow the lawn, pull weeds, shovel snow, or do other heavy chores. But this can be very tough on tired muscles, especially when you are partially dehydrated and/or undernourished from your run.
Doing things like bending over, stooping, climbing ladders, or picking up heavy equipment when your muscles are already tired can be a recipe for injury. If at all possible, put these chores off just one day or give yourself several solid hours of recovery time. While all this sounds like the perfect excuse to get out of getting those leaves out of the gutter, it’s much better to do these tasks when you are at full strength.
5. You shortchange easy day recovery:
Don’t minimise your accomplishments, whatever your pace or distance. Thinking that you don’t need recovery because your run or race was “too slow” or “too short” is misguided thinking.
Pace and distance are relative to each runner, so it always counts and always plays a factor in how you might feel on the next run. Treat your body with respect – just like the elite athletes do – regardless of the pace and distance. You will reap the rewards of your training and your body will thank you if you take care of it and recover properly.