Running Recovery and Injury PreventionJun 01, 2023
What do you do in terms of recovery after your run?
For 13 years I told myself I could never run a marathon because I was sure I couldn’t hack the training and that I would get injured. Before I set up Start Running Stay Running, I had a lot of experience being on the injury bench because I did everything wrong! It was the whole reason why I became a Run Coach and why I love helping people to run and keep injuries at bay. But the fact that I seemed to be 'prone to injury' always put me off pushing the distance too far.
Well, this year I had to take recovery to a whole new level because I bit the bullet and did what I said I couldn’t do - I challenged myself to run a marathon. And not just one… but two. I entered the Manchester Marathon and then got a charity place for the London Marathon and they took place in the space of a week! My recovery, therefore, was not only going to have to be spot on during my training but also in between races to ensure that I was able to complete them and not get injured. So, I tried everything!
Have you ever heard of the term ‘marginal gains’? It was famously coined by British Cycling Coach, Sir Dave Brailsford when he managed Team Sky. He made very small adjustments to their training, and with each small change, came a 1-2% improvement. It doesn’t sound a lot but do this numerous times, and it all adds up. So, taking the same philosophy, I decided to do everything I could to ensure I kept those pesky niggles away so that I could complete my marathon challenge.
In no particular order of preference, here are 18 (yes 18!) things I did to get me through my training and subsequently complete two Marathons in one week (with a sneaky Half Marathon race two weeks before that!).
Ice Ice Baby!
I bought a Lumi Ice Bath back in November after doing lots of research on the benefits of taking ice baths. To be honest, I'd taken my first ever early morning dip in the sea and considered myself to be the next Wim Hof! Jumping in very cold water is not just good for recovery after running but also gives huge mental health benefits and also makes you feel like an all-around badass!
I would jump in the ice bath after runs, particularly long runs, and sit there between two and five minutes depending on the temperature. As the summer comes, the temperature has more than doubled so I’m in there for around 10 minutes and I’m still not as cold as the two-minute dip in the winter. You can get around this by adding a massive amount of ice… or shelling out a few thousand pounds for a super duper tub with a chiller!
I read in a book, that you have a 35% less chance of becoming injured if you rotate your trainers. That’s all the reason I needed to go and buy more of my favourite brand!
One of the reasons for this is that you are giving your shoes time to ‘rest and recover’. When you start wearing trainers on long runs, the midsole in particular will decompress. By leaving them for a significant period of time, you are allowing them to return to their natural state. Rotating your trainers will prevent the excessive breakdown of the cushioning because they will have fully regained their shape and in turn will improve their durability. YAY!
Trainers don’t even need to be the same make – by rotating between different pairs, you allow your feet and legs to experience different movement patterns, reducing the risk of overuse injuries. Adapting to different trainers may promote better overall balance and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Saying that… I wear the same make and model – I just have them in several different colours!
To find out more about how to choose the best trainers, check out our blog... What Trainers do I Need to Start Running?
It’s hard work trying to get your diet on point when you’re busy doing ‘all the things’. Sometimes I just want an easy life and pull some beige food out of the freezer and throw it in the air fryer! To compensate for this, I make sure I am supplementing my diet with vitamins and micronutrients.
If you eat a good diet, the need for a multivitamin is less required and, to be honest, this is something I have considered ditching. However, the one I use which is from Feel does contain lots of elements that I don’t have much of in my diet such as Tumeric, Spirulina, and Reishi Mushroom to name just a few.
My new nutrient friend is Hence Greens Stack. This is a micronutrient power-house that contains all the stuff I’m most definitely not getting in my diet such as (again) Spirulina, Matcha Green Tea, Maca (root), Ashwagandha, Organic Spinach leaf, Broccoli Sprout, and other stuff that I’ve not heard of before! I started taking this AFTER my two races and the biggest thing that I have noticed is that I’m now choosing to go to bed at a certain time, rather than having to go to bed because I feel exhausted. Same with my afternoon nap! I used to be nodding at the computer (and I’ve done this for years), desperate for sleep come 2.30 pm. The afternoon slump would sometimes feel debilitating to the point I would feel sick. Now, I will try and take a 30 min break with some meditation or a walk in the afternoon rather than plonking my head down for an hour and waking up feeling even worse!
If you would like to try Feel or Hence we can offer you a discount using these links/codes
Feel… http://wearefeel.refr.cc/lindameek for 20% off your order
Hence… Use the code RUN10 for 10% off
Wash those aches away!
It’s fair to say, that I’m a sucker for an advert… and when I kept seeing these wonderful-looking shower gels by FITKIT coming up on my feed, I couldn’t resist. Especially as they had properties in that would help with recovery such as Magnesium and Sauna oils. Still thinking about Dave Brailsford’s marginal gains I thought I would give them a try – plus they come in handy little pouches which were great for travelling.
The shower gels come in three varieties - Body Recovery, Muscle Cooling and Clear Breathing. I couldn't decide which to try so bought all three in a bundle. Seduced by a bargain, in the end, I bought the Ultimate Fit Kit so that I could try some other things too.
Included in the kit was CBD body cream which I love. This felt good to apply after a long run and especially after the two races and I am sure this was one of the reasons why my legs felt pretty manageable in the days following both races.
Fit Kit has kindly given our readers and subscribers 20% off with this code… STAYRUNNING20
This is something that I always used to do AFTER I had a niggle and was using it as rehab instead of prehab. Not this time!
I made monthly appointments with my sports therapist that I have used since I first had an injury - so actually not long after I started running 13 years ago. This, for sure, made a big difference in keeping niggles at bay. There were many times that things had gotten tight without me even realising. If I hadn’t got it looked at, would I have even made it to the start line? Doubtful.
After my post-run cold bath and shower, I would pop on a lovely pair of compression socks. After my races, I even wore them to bed. These help to keep the blood flowing in your legs which will ultimately aid with recovery. My favourite is Monkey Sox – both to run in and for recovery. Never underestimate the importance of good socks. It took me a long time to realise this!
We will have something special coming from the Monkey Sox team very soon. 😉
I made a point of getting to bed by 10 pm during my training so that I had at least eight hours every night. This really made a difference in my recovery as it is when we are asleep that our bodies make the biggest leaps in recovery. It also helped to keep my sleep pattern consistent so I would wake at 6.00 am, even on weekends.
In the weeks when the runs were building in miles, I added extra carbs to my meals and ensured that I was hitting my protein goals. I also tested out my run fuelling before, during, and after way before the big day. If you’re not fuelling enough before and during your runs you are going to start to struggle to do the miles, which in turn can affect your form and guess what… can cause injury! My favourite brand to use is Active Root. Their stuff contains ginger so it's much kinder on your tummy. It's so refreshing too... it's hard not to just guzzle the lot!
I also like to use Protein Rebel's Maple Ignite as it tastes just like a pudding and contains only natural ingredients.
After my runs or gym sessions, I will always have a protein shake when I get home. By far, the best one I have tried is by TEAMRH. Chocolate and Vanilla are both delicious! Taking in a source of protein quickly after exercise ensures that the body has something to use to repair the muscles that have just been used and will help the muscles to grow - ultimately making you stronger 💪
To get 20% off your first order with Active Root, click here! The discount will be added at the checkout.
Protein Rebel has kindly given us a code for a discount on their products. Use SRSR15 for 15% off.
Time on feet isn’t just about running. If I was able to walk somewhere instead of taking the car – I walked. This was especially important after each race to help burn off any build-up of lactic acid in my legs and help to reduce any soreness. If you stay still too long, you will start to seize up!
The day after the Manchester Marathon, I booked a float tank at Float Level This has to be one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had. It was worth it just for that, but the tank itself is full of salts (usually a mixture of Magnesium and Epsom salts) which is great for muscle recovery. Win–Win!
It’s so important to keep your body hydrated after your runs. I would often drink water with an electrolyte tablet added to help put back the salts that have been depleted on the run. I would use the High Five Zero tablets.
Stretch and roll
Stretching and ‘rolling’ was a big part of my weekly routine. I would make sure I did a stretch session once a week which would sometimes involve using a roller and several different balls! I found the best massage ball was a polystyrene one which I got from the middle aisle in Aldi!
Twice a year I go and see a lovely lady who makes sure I am in alignment!
The way we sit, sleep, and do things day to day can put our pelvis out of kilter which can then have an effect on the rest of the body. The first time I went, my pelvis was wonky by an inch. When I went back six months later it was wonky again… but on the other side!
I can always tell when I'm due a visit... I start to feel a lot tighter on one side. Try doing a side bend (hand up in the air and lean the opposite way) – one way and then the other. Can you go over a lot more on one side? How about if you do a side twist? If there is a marked difference, you might want to see if you're body is in alignment or if you’re a bit wonky!
After seeing the osteopath, she recommended that I sleep on my back and not in my weird ‘on-one-side, leg at a right-angle' posture as this wasn’t helping to keep my pelvis straight.
So, I got suckered into one of those ads about the pillow with the dip in the middle to help with your sleep posture. The one I have is from Groove it has undoubtedly helped to keep me from wriggling back onto my side and sleeping like a wonky donkey!
My favourite shoe to wear! When you pop a pair of Oofos on after a run – it’s bliss! My husband first bought them when he suffered from plantar fasciitis, and they really helped his symptoms. I got my first pair of Oofos flip-flops at The National Running Show in January 2022 and have never looked back. I now own a pair of sliders so that I could pop compression socks on and wear Oofos together. Not the sexiest look, but who cares when you’re recovering from a run?
I got to try out Graham’s blow-up boots (by MYOMASTER) after the Manchester Marathon. If I’m honest, I probably should’ve used them a day or so after the race – by the time I got in them four days later, my legs were recovered. However, I can see how they would be beneficial in the days following a long run – particularly marathons and ultras... something that Graham does a lot of!
I’ve not got a fancy massage gun but the one we have does the job. It was too bulky to take away with me but when my legs felt sore after long runs, drilling with the massage gun always brought some relief.
Without a doubt, one of the most important things to do to keep injuries at bay and recover quicker is to include strength training in your weekly routine. And we’re not just talking lower body getting the legs strong. Having a strong core, a strong back, and strong arms will help you to keep your form when you get tired which will help you way after the race has finished.
So, there you have it. Which of these have you done before? Which has helped you the most, and which are you curious to try?
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