Soothe the pain monster
Follow hard efforts with easy days so you heal. Exercise physiologist Inigo San Millan also suggests adding a monthly recovery week, in which you reduce the length and intensity of runs. And have at least one lowimpact crosstraining day in your weekly routine, to get the increased bloodflow without the stress of impact.
On a run, muscles burn up glycogen. ‘Running on glycogen-depleted legs can lead to inflammation,’ says Dr Matthew Laye, assistant professor of health and human performance at The College of Idaho, US. On runs lasting over an hour, take in a sports drink or gel. And refuel within 30-60 mins of finishing your run.
When you’re not performance fuelling, avoid simple sugars in processed foods. Laye says if you overload your body with sugar when your muscles aren’t refuelling, your body struggles to absorb it, which contributes to inflammation. Eat whole, natural foods, some fruit and plenty of vegetables.
Human growth hormone and testosterone flood your system as you sleep, which helps your body rebuild itself. ‘Shortchanging sleep increases your risk of chronic inflammation,’ says San Millan. ‘You should get at least seven, ideally eight, hours of sleep every night. If you aren’t, cut back on training.’
When your brain is overloaded with work or emotional stressors, your body can become deprived of glycogen – the fuel source that feeds your muscles and prevents inflammation. This means that if you are experiencing heavy life stress, it’s critical to eat (and sleep) well. If you can’t, scale back on training until you can.
Five ways to avoid chronic inflammation