Train hard and recover harder

The often overlooked aspect of training !!

(5 mins read  – grab a protein shake for recovery !!)

Many runners are currently preparing for spring half and full marathon events including Manchester, London and Brighton Marathons, Ashby 20 miler and Stafford Half Marathon. And as those miles approach 40-45 miles per week evidence informs us that there is an increased risk of injury….

So if we take a minute to look at the reasons this risk increases then we are better informed to mitigate this risk and in doing so make the event we are training for!! Unfortunatelydata suggests approximately 25% of runners who enter marathon distance events never make the start line due to injury…75%of which are cumulative and might have been avoided!!!

So the devil is in the detail, having the knowledge but most importantly TAKING ACTION AND EXECUTING THIS PLAN…. Every week in clinic I speak with runners, educate them on actions they need to take only for them not to execute our treatment plan and thus either suffer symptoms longer than they should or impair their ability to train or participate in evets they have entered…So they key aspect of this information (which is sooooooooooo easy to integrate) is to take MASSIVE ACTION immediately….. And the remain consistent…1. Nutrition – Lets start the whole cycle with fueling….You are burning HUGE amounts of calories during longer training efforts so you need to fuel your body correctly for the task. The scope of this article is way too short to discuss this but one of the biggest regions of conflicts online is nutrition. High carb versus low card versus Vegan (the new kid on the block since gamechangers documentary!!). My advice would be takesolid advice from a qualified sports nutritionist (we are very lucky to have Ryan Bristow MSc ISSN at The Chase whom I work closely with). But using nutritional strategies to optimize recovery is vital area runners often overlook is sufficient protein levels in their diet. It is thought that aiming for approximately 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day is correct for the majority with 40g bolus of this coming within 60 mins of intense training. A double scoop protein shake (40g) blended with a handful of oats and/or tablespoon of peanut butter (for those without allergy) works quite well!!!  This starts the process of recovery and regeneration off immediately in time for our next bout of exercise. 2. Training density – spacing and undulation… Too many runners I see red-line every session then stackthese sessions too close together this impairing their ability to recover between sessions. After intense exercise (circuits/HIIT) or prolonged periods of loading (long runs) the tissues in the body take 48-72 hours to recover and adapt. This process is called super-compensation and is well established in the literature… So if you train consecutive days you MUST vary your training load high-low-moderate-low-high intensity pattern in the week for example. This creates loading undulation and allows the body sufficient opportunity to recover and adapt to training sessions.  This is also one of largest contributors toward failed recovery and insidious onset injury I observe in injured runners!!3. Sleep – it’s easy… Close your eyes…Get enough… We now have a plethora of research which demonstrates how valuable sleep is for our bodies…So those who think they can survive with poor quality, low duration sleep patterns are in for a shock…Every piece of evidence we have demonstrates that sleep is vital for restoration and recovery but many don’t get enough hours but most importantly insufficient QUALITY of sleep…Sleep is a vital part of how our bodies recover from training as very important hormones which promote recovery are released mainly when we sleep deeply… So think of your room like a cave – dark, slightly cool, noise free and aim not to have blue light (TV/Mobilephone) entering your eyes for 60 mins before bed or consume caffeine, carbs or sugars and alcohol several hours before bed as all these are known to disrupt deep sleep patterns. 

For those who want to find out more watch this great TED Talk with Matthew Walker (world renowned sleep neuroscientist) – Soft tissue therapy – take your pick… Research informs us that soft tissue therapy can be useful to assist recovery from training sessions..But lets be clear it doesn’t SPEED UP this process it merely optimizes conditions for it to occur… And there is no clear evidence it reduces injury risk but it certainly has strong positive effects in runners perceived sense of recovery (which is an important factor).. Again evidence has not clearly demonstrated sports massage to have any more robust outcomes than use of foam roller, spikey ball, massage stick so take your pick and use whichever you prefer or my advice would be to combine all of them !!! Our bodies love variation and there are advantages and disadvantages of each…5. Remain strong !!!  So again if reverse engineer things for a second here… If we perform regular strength training (x2-3 per week for most runners) evidence suggests this provides protection against the risk of cumulative injury and enhances running economy and reduces times (no brainer right??).  The mechanism through which this is achieved is likely to be via more optimal loading of our tissues as we run.. Thus if we load our tissues more efficiently during training then we are likely to suffer with reduced post training soreness and RECOVER quicker… Quite simple really…So get those strength sessions in each week to maintain strength throughout your event training… 

This is just a small overview of some recovery strategies you can use to keep fit and healthy and fully recovered for your next training session.  I hope you have found this article useful.

Active Therapy is a specialized clinic of The Running Clinic who are world leaders in the field of injury risk reduction and treatment of running injury. We have completed intensive training over several years and we are experts in running injury assessment and treatment. We have a high level of clinical competence and serve as a reference to other health professionals and contribute to advancing knowledge through scientific research and education.


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