Jo Pavey on running tall and cooling down
It’s important to go into recovery mode soon after your long run because your body and immune system will be quite vulnerable. Have a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes as soon as you’ve finished. If conditions are wet, change into dry kit before you get cold. Do some light stretching of the major muscle groups, focusing on any areas that feel particularly tight. Within the first 20 minutes to half an hour, eat a protein-rich snack or recovery drink.
After stretching, an ice bath is helpful (if you can tolerate it!), especially if you’re in an intense training phase and quick recovery is paramount. But it’s not essential if a rest day follows the long run in your schedule. Have a decent meal within a couple of hours. This is when your body is very receptive to restocking your glycogen stores. It often takes time to properly rehydrate after a long run, so keep taking in fluids during the rest of the day. If possible, have a nap two or three hours after the run. The day after, don’t attempt a hard run, but a short, gentle recovery run can be helpful. A massage will aid recovery on the day of the long run or, if that’s not possible, the day after. During a long run try to take on some sports drinks and, perhaps, gels; this will make it easier to recover, as you’ll be less depleted. And it’s good practice if you’re training for a marathon.
Is a cool-down necessary?
A cool-down helps your body to gradually return to its resting state. It also helps to eliminate metabolic waste products such as lactic acid, and reduces tightening of the muscles. The type of cool-down depends on the workout you’ve done. After an easy or steady run, a cool-down jog isn’t necessary. But it’s good to stretch to prevent your muscles tightening up. Postrun is a good time to stretch, as your muscles are nice and warm. Walk around a bit, too, rather than suddenly sitting for a long time. After a hard or tempo run, do a few minutes of easy jogging to cool down, then stretch. A good cool-down is most beneficial after an interval session – it should involve at least 10-15 minutes of jogging before stretching.
What is ‘running tall’?
It means running with your head, shoulders, torso, pelvis and hips in alignment, without slouching at the shoulders and bending at the hips. It also encourages a good foot-plant position under your body. When ‘running tall’, engage your core muscles and imagine you are lifting up out of your hips rather than sinking down into them – this should make you feel lighter on your legs. Don’t hold yourself rigidly while running tall – good form is relaxed, allowing your muscles to move freely. Don’t take the expression too literally; it’s important not to run so upright that it reduces your ability to drive forward and produce speed.
ICE AT A PRICE A postrun ice bath can aid recovery , but it’s not for everyone