We are bringing you today eight top tips to aid your recovery after doing activities like Everesting, but you can apply this to any big effort events or races. Podcast host, Henny Gorton teamed up with Nikki Han to bring you these tips today. Nikki is an expert in all things ultra events after being a 2 time finisher of the 298km Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge and the only female finisher. She has probably done more ultra races than all of us combined. Recovery is something she is very familiar with but also something she is continually learning and developing. Both Henny and Nikki have learnt the hard way in recovery by not recovering, so here is their advice.
Recovery is essential to anyone’s running journey since it allows us to optimise all that hard work we have just done, but also to simply put it, ‘get back at it’. It is something many of us overlook, as after a race and the months of training, we can be burnt out and don’t want anything to do with running for a while or even hear the words uttered. It is our time to celebrate and do all those things we couldn’t do on the build up, BUT it is imperative to add recovery into your celebrations, here’s how.
Refuel - You have burnt A LOT of calories and lost many nutrients, your body in a sense is broken, physically and mentally. It is essential you replace all the nutrients and calories you lost over the following days or weeks. You probably would have had a strict nutrition plan throughout your activity, well keep that going, make sure you are continuing to hydrate and focus on consuming a balanced diet. It is very easy to make the mistake of heading straight for that celebratory beer(s) and pizza(s), which of course you should absolutely do, as it’s well deserved, but top it with lots of water, fruit and veggies. I have seen so many people go straight from an ultra to then being sick the next week as they haven’t aided their recovery and are just left with a broken body and poor immune system. Even take supplements during the recovery period to aid the lost nutrients. Check out Bix’s supplements which have all the nutrients you need to aid your recovery.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. We are usually so good at this during our runs, but don’t forget about the post run to optimise recovery. Especially in Asia, where we have severe heat and high humidity. Rehydration salts are great to take post run to aid your hydration.
Active recovery. I know the last thing you want to do is move, BUT keeping moving is the best way for your muscles and joints to recover. Just move slowly, little walks, yoga, swimming and hiking (I know you Everesters won’t want to hear that), but hiking is great for recovery.
Stretch, it speaks for itself. Let’s focus on directly after the ‘event’ or ‘race’, I have made the mistake so often to just instantly sit down or lie down to rest but my body cramps and seizes up. If you just do light stretches straight after it helps your body loosen up. My absolute top tip if you can handle it and I do this after all my long runs, is do a few slow deep squats and lunges, it works wonders for your recovery.
Elevate legs. Just for 10/15 minute a day, for the days straight after the ‘event’, which will help to get rid of the lactic acid build up. Having your legs elevated above your heart helps with blood flow to your legs. On top of this, it helps with swelling of the legs which comes from being on your feet for many hours during an ultra.
Massage. Our favorite way to recovery, get a good massage. It’s the best and most relaxing part of recovery.
Sleep. What most people find very difficult after a long race, particularly if your activity is over a day. You have messed up your sleep pattern and have probably been pumping your body with caffeine for however many hours, which is why it is difficult to sleep. Despite being absolutely exhausted, the body and mind finds it difficult to turn off. However, sleep is the MOST important way to recover and is something that I am sure all of us need more. Sleep helps the body repair itself. Doesn’t matter what your age is, young or old, we all need to sleep more to be both strong physically and mentally. Even though you may struggle to sleep, make sure you are resting and trying to sleep.
Have fun. You have probably made a lot of sacrifices during your training, maybe not seeing friends as much or avoiding alcohol or that ‘bad’ food you love. Recovery time is the time to enjoy what you have been missing out on. Nikki likes to go and get her haircut after an ultra, as in training she feels like she is wasting time getting her hair done but in recovery mode she can take the time to sit and relax. Meet up with friends who aren’t runners, give your brain a break from running. They certainly won’t care about if you just ran 10 or 100km and how fast you did it. For Henny, she loves to take her dog out walking to new places that she can’t run like beaches or waterfalls to really soak in the scenery and relax along the way, as normally she is always focused on the route, numbers or effort, so it’s just nice to slow down in nature.
In conclusion, it is OK to just take the time and come back slowly. Your body will thank you for it and in return you will be stronger for it.