RECOVER CORRECTLY AFTER A RUN OR WALK
Whether you're a newbie or a regular runner or walker, prioritising your recovery may serve you well for future exercise longevity.
Your warm up is the starting point to a greater recovery! Recovery is generally associated with methods that come post-exercise, but recovery should be treated as a continuous cycle.
Recovery is what allows us to progress, adapt and perform more optimally. As the stress we place on our bodies during exercise is just the start of the process. The adaptation to stress needs the appropriate environment to recover, which is why managing your recovery is essential.
Your warm up begins by increasing your body's temperature, increasing blood circulation, improving oxygen efficiency, preparing muscle and connective tissues for the exercise. The warm up is also one of, if not the best chance of reducing the risk of an injury.
Traditional Cool Downs
For many individuals skipping a cool down is common. Whether that's for time reasons or not understanding the importance of a cool down.
Cooling down allows our heart rate to slowly lower and to transition back over to our ‘parasympathetic nervous system’. Otherwise known as the rest and digest system. Being in a stressful state for too long can be detrimental to our bodies therefore it is important we start the process of doing so with the cool down. A cool down doesn't have to be complicated or long-winded, a simple light walk or stretch for 5-10 minutes is achievable for most (1,2).
Knowing when to rest or having days focused around recovery is often overlooked. A Lot of us are guilty of thinking more is better and constantly pushing our bodies too far without adequate recovery. Remember the improvement we want from the exercise we perform occurs during the times we are spending recovering, not the time spent during the exercise itself. Give yourself a couple of days off per week to help aid that process.
Following on from the previous paragraph, autoregulation is a fancy way of saying ‘listening to your body’. Having a plan is fantastic but sometimes that plan needs to change and this is where autoregulation comes in. If you were due to perform a hard run but you don't feel recovered, sometimes we need to change to a light day or pull the plug altogether and not exercise that day. This approach can prevent the accumulation of fatigue and also reduce potential injuries.