Ever get those days where you feel stiff, sore, and (dare we say it) don’t want to run? The trouble with running is that it can be hard on our energy levels. Luckily, there are loads of simple things we can all do every day.
Try these 5 to feel better, sleep well, and recover faster. Ready to feel like a brand-new runner?
Don’t Restrict Your Food
Running can be a great way to get in shape, but the fact remains that you need energy to be a good runner. Eating enough will help your muscles, tendons, and ligaments get stronger. It’ll help you recover between training sessions. And it will give you the energy you need to feel fresh and strong when you run.
If you want to use running as part of your weight-loss strategy, then you need a small calorie deficit. But even this shouldn’t mean restriction. Runners shouldn’t “diet”.
Whether you want to lose weight, maintain weight, or even gain weight, fuel your body with enough calories. Google your BMR and TDEE to get an idea of how many calories you need - most active women are surprised! Make sure 80% of what you eat comes from healthy, nourishing, natural foods. Work your favourite treats into the remaining 20% (remember, we’re finding a sustainable way to eat). Job done!
Stay Hydrated… All Day Long
If you’re even slightly hydrated, your next run will feel like a struggle. The easiest way to prevent this is to stay on top of hydration levels all the time.
Start the day with a glass of water, cup of herbal tea, or water with a slice of lemon or lime (there’s no real health benefit, it’s just extra refreshing!)
Carry a water bottle with you everywhere (in the car, on your desk, in your bag) and sip from it. Refill it once it’s empty.
Have a glass of water with you whenever you sit down for an extended period of time.
Drink water before every meal.
Have another glass or water or non-caffeinated (herbal/fruit) tea just before bed.
Roll & Stretch
Foam rolling will help keep you fit, healthy, and pain free for a long time. Invest in a foam roller (get the hardest one you can find) and/or a set of those little physio balls for trigger points.
Learn how to foam-roll your hamstrings, quads, glutes, IT band (ouch!), calves, and upper back. It might feel awkward at first. But your body will soon understand how to open up and release tension to the foam roller. Make foam rolling your number one recovery strategy (above massage, yoga, and stretching).
If you can afford a sports massage, get one. Perhaps family can club together for your next birthday? If you have the disposable income to have massages every 6-8 weeks, do it. Think of it as a good investment for the future of your body.
Get More Sleep
Sleep can be a real challenge for women. We’re often the ones getting up to sooth sleepless kids, or staying up late to sort household chores. Or maybe stress and worries keep you awake in the wee hours. If you can get more sleep, do it. This simple (free!) tool will transform how energised you feel for running.
Can you get to bed any earlier? If you’re in the habit of staying up late, perhaps on Facebook, put steps in place to break the habit. Every half-hour you can get to bed before midnight will work wonders.
Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Minimise lights from outside, and from electronics like clocks and alarms. And don’t take your phone or tablet computer into the bedroom - it’s a temptation to stay up late.
Take (Real) Rest Days
Be honest, how often do you take proper rest days from running? Days when your focus is on resting as much as possible - not just on “not running”? Most of us don’t rest enough to recover from long-term running training. It could be holding back your progress.
Rest days heal micro-tears in muscles, give bones a break from impact, and let our nervous system to calm down.
Newbie runners should take at least 2-3 full rest days a week. Intermediate runners need 1-2 full rest days per week. And rest days mean rest! Try not to replace running with other high-impact, demanding, and tiring activities. Walking will be fine (but don’t head out for a power walk just to replace the calorie burn). Learn to enjoy your rest days, and your body will repay you with faster, stronger training runs.