Looking for Regional Information?

5 Easy Ways for Runners to Recover Between Training Sessions

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Fitness
In order to improve as an athlete you need to make rest and recovery a key part of your training schedule. Yet most beginning and intermediate runners tend to neglect this, and unfortunately pay the consequences in the form of a soft-tissue injury, or a general feeling of overtiredness.

So, how do elite athletes maintain schedules of a hundred miles a week full of intense training? Because it is training like this that gets them to the top, and keeps them there. Often they are one or two sessions away from an injury, but they know from experience when to take it easy.

Here's five easy ways to recover between training sessions, and make the improvements you desire without getting injured:

1) Treat rest and recovery as seriously as you take the rest of your training. Don't be tempted to do another training session when you have got a day's rest scheduled.

2) Stretch both before and after a run. Many authorities recommend stretching mainly after your training sessions, but to neglect stretching before running will put you at a greater risk of injury. Don't wait until you get injured to realize the importance of stretching.

3) Use ice and cold water. Elite athletes like the women's marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe, take regular ice baths before and after hard sessions or races. You do not have to go this far, but the regular use of ice or cold water can help to ease any muscular aches and pains.

One recommendation is to hold an ice pack to a troublesome joint for ten minutes, then allow it to warm up again for an hour. Then reapply the ice for another ten minutes. You can also alternate hot and cold water on your leg in the shower. This can help your legs recover after a hard session.

4) Vary your training. Variety adds spice to your running, as it does the rest of your life. So, vary the speeds at which you run. Perhaps twice a week you can run fast-- do structured speed sessions with your local running club, for example. But, you cannot run fast every day. To recover for your next hard training session you need to run slowly, as well as take days off.

You don't want to be always running with the same people either. If you always run in a pack you are more likely to get injured as you will get drawn into running faster than you would like. Vary your training partners, and run on your own as well as this will help you to listen to your body.

5) Listening to your body is probably your best defence against overtraining and injury. This takes practice so don't be surprised if you DO get injured a few times before you realize when to take it easy, and when to train hard.

If you follow these five guidelines you will recover better between training sessions, avoid injury, and become a better runner.