I think cooling our bodies down and treating them well after intense exercise (or exercise in general!) can be a very different experience for everyone- much like the relationship between food and exercise. Different things work for different people. Granted I haven’t tried much else outside of my general routine, but so far, considering the distances I run, it works for me! (One day I will try this super cold bath business!)
It was the agony I felt in the days after the Great South Run last year that taught me just how silly I was for not stretching properly. Naively when I was caught in the excitement after the run, I didn’t cool down and after having a quick shower I went straight out for dinner with a friend. Silly. Silly. Never again. Aaron came up to Cardiff (where I go to university) the following week and after my hobbling was endearing during the first few hours, I am sure he began to plan his escape with the knowledge that a slow walk would insure he would lose me.
I’ll firstly make sure I sip water-my body always thanks me after this. In the hours following the Great South Run I had a really weird headache and felt a bit too light and I’m pretty sure this is down to the lack of hydration. I’ll then stretch (I had to google to find out the professional terms!): hip flexor stretch; thigh stretch (the am-I-able-to-balance-today-or-not stretch); hamstring stretch; calf stretch. Since finding THIS WEBPAGE after googling the names of the stretches, I have now found more stretches I will definitely put into my stretch routine! If it’s Event Day I will always get this done while I’m still at the event after I have crossed the line.
I’ve been running longer distances far more frequently than a couple of years ago but have only recently got into the habit of preparing for the aftermath. After I stretch I sit down with a glass of juice (I don’t drink juice all that much anymore but it’s something I always reach for after a long run) and eat a hard boiled egg while I sip on my drink.
I try to prepare this before my run because otherwise I’ll be so hungry that I’ll just grab the nearest thing. Protein and carbohydrates are your number one best friend after working out and so after I’ve drunk at least most of my water and eaten my egg I’ll most likely make a sandwich with meat to fill me up and get me some carbs. I will, however, write a post covering how I eat after event day (and, by default, normal runs) another time! After this particular run, though, I had a salad prepared beforehand and cooked some fishcake up to put on top. Although not the healthiest I sometimes think treating myself to something that isn’t terrible but one of my favourites is the way forward!
Depending how hungry I am (if Kat is hungry after a ten plus mile run, Kat will eat) I’ll either grab a snack or start running a bath. I’ll normally go for a Radox muscle soak kind of bath but for this particular ten mile run I wound down with a marshmallow bath from the new Imperial Leather range which makes me s-w-o-o-n (mainly because my legs were feeling far less tense than usual). If I can feel any strains or aches and pains, I’ll target the area with either deep heat or deep freeze (depending on what exactly feels wrong) or will do so when or if they occur.
In the aftermath of these long runs the best results in terms of how well my body feels come after a relaxing evening. After eating and all of those necessary events, getting into bed with a book and then getting a good 8-9 hours sleep is the best thing for me!
~ Kat ~