11 Tips to Run Better and Recover Faster

Being a marathon runner, requires train. What is just as important is, that your body has time to relax. What a lot of people do not realize is that it is while relaxing (recovering) that your body gets stronger. In this article you will learn:

How Training Affects Your Body

When the body is exposed to your marathon training, or any training for that matter, it will try to adapt by rebuilding itself. In the rebuilding phase, your body gets stronger. After your body has being rebuilt, it will be able to meet a greater amount of training.

Recovery under training is possible as long as your muscles get the oxygen and nutrition they need. This is possible as long as the training intensity is low. If the training intensity is high, your muscles will not get the oxygen, and nutrition they need and the main recovery will occur after your training has ended. Organize your marathon training the right way is therefore critical.

If your training sessions are too close to each other, your body will not have been rebuilt sufficiently. This can lead to overtraining, which eventually can destroy your training and at worst result in injuries or illness.

So, Why Recovery is Vital?

Your body will recover the most in the first half of the recovery phase. After your recovery period is halfway, the most fatigue will be gone. This will give you the opportunity to do a low intensity running session or a hard training session for other muscles groups.

It is evident not to start training before the rebuilding/recovery phase has completed. If your training sessions are too close to each other, your body will not have been rebuilt sufficiently. This can lead to overtraining, which eventually can destroy your training and at worst result in injuries or illness.

What Happens to Your Body Under Recovery?

At the end of a recovery period, your body will reach a Super compensation phase. This is just a fancy way of saying that your body will be stronger than before your training began.

However, it will not be long before your body goes from super compensation and back to the starting point (normally this will happen within 1 – 2 weeks). So recovery alone won’t get you to your marathon goal 😉 .

The following figure illustrates the effect of training, recovery and Super compensation on your body. Your training should be planed so that the next training session begins at the top of the Supercompensation phase. You can see a guidance to how long your recovery should be be in the next section.

Rules of thumb when it comes to the best muscle recovery.

  • Some activity gives a better recovery instead of no activity at all.
  • The higher intensity the longer/better recovery.
  • The higher level of fitness the shorter recovery.

Your marathon training should take the above into account and have an appropriate relation between training load and recovery. Read best marathon shoes 2016.

Running Recovery Time vs. Training Intensity

A good indicator for how long your muscle recovery should be is the heart rate at which you have performed your runs. The heart rate is an indicator for how intense your training has been. The schema below should give you an idea of the amount of recovery time needed between training sessions of different intensity. Remember the recovery time will be different depending on who you are, so the schema is for guidance.

Good recovery actions after your training/competition will shorten your recovery time. Here are some recovery tips you should use.

1. Cool down

The final 10% to 20% of the time spend on your (hard) runs should be used to cool down. A cool down period will help your body remove waste products. Research has shown that lactic acid from aerobic training is best removed at intensities around 60% of maximal oxygen uptake.

2. Replace Fluid Balance

2/3 of your body consists of water. When you run, you lose water through sweat and breathing. Sweating is a way for your body to cool down. A rough rule of thumb says that for every 1% your body losses in water, your performance will drop by 10%. This is why you need to learn to drink while performing your long runs and on very hot days. After training, the fluid balance needs to get back to normal. If your urine is light, your water balance is back to normal.

3. Eat Properly

After you have done your exercise, your body is very receptive to nourishment (Especially the first 45 minutes). Make sure that your use this period to get enough carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will provide an increase in insulin carrying amino acids into muscle, which will shorten your recovery

With a normal diet, it will take a couple of days before the body has been rebuilt with carbohydrate. With a rich carbohydrate diet, it can take as little as 1 day. Also, a lot of small meals are preferred to a few large ones are preferred.

4. Relaxation

Relaxation is one of the methods proven to give the best recovery. Sleep is the best way of relaxing. If you are training hard, you need your sleep. The more you train the more sleep you need. Meditation has also proven to improve recovery. Relaxing on your bed with your favorite tunes on the stereo is yet another way of relaxing after a hard training.

5. Massage

Massage will increase the blood flow in your muscles, which in turn will help to remove waste products. Furthermore massage will help reduce muscle tension. Research indicates that message will have most effect for your muscle recovery a few hours after a hard running session. You will get a maximum benefit from getting a massage where muscles and tendons join. Self massage is a good supplement to massage by a real Massage Therapist.

6. Recovery Runs

A cool down period will increase the blood flow through your muscles. This will help you muscles get more oxygen, remove waste products, and increase nutrients. Research has shown that lactic acid from aerobic training is best removed at intensities at about 60% of maximal oxygen uptake.

7. Ice Bath / Cold Bath

Not many people enjoy it, but a cold bath or an ice bath will improve your recovery. The cold water will contract your blood veins. When you exit the bath, your body will want to get back to its normal temperature. To do this your veins will quickly go back to a larger state than before. This process will increase the blood flow through your muscles and help remove waste products.

8. Marathon Program

Having a balanced marathon program is one of the best ways of ensuring the right amount of recovery. After a couple of weeks with high intensity training, your body should have time to recover. If you don’t have the right balance between high and low intensity, you will not reach the Super compensation in which the body will be stronger. Instead you will go into an overtraining state. A good marathon program should take this into account.

9. Listen to your Body

One of the most significant things you can do to improve your recovery is to listen your body. If you feel exhausted and your marathon program says that you have to do a hard run, then skip it or do a light run instead. You know how you feel, not your program.

If you learn to listen to your body, you will avoid a lot of injuries and to get into an overtraining state. A way to see if you have recovered enough before your next run, is to note your morning heart rate. If the HR is higher than usual for a longer period of time, it can be a sign that you are not fully recovered.

10. Sauna/Bathtub

Warmth will extend your veins and allow for a larger flow of blood, which in turn will help remove waste materials in your body. Warmth will also help muscles to relax. A warm sauna or bath will help to give this effect.

11. Vitamins/Minerals

To recover, it is vital to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. In periods with high intensity training, the body will require extra vitamins and mineral. If you still feel tiered after recovering from periods with hard training, it can be a good idea to check with your doctor and see if you body get amount of vitamins and minerals it needs.