The 3 Worst Mistakes Runners Make – Mistake #3

During the last 2 posts, we’ve been exploring the 3 Biggest Mistakes Runners Make –

In the final instalment this week, we explore -

Mistake #3 – Wasting the 5 Most Important Minutes of any Training Session

The 5 most important minutes of any training session are, in fact, when you aren’t training; it is the first 5 minutes after you finish training.

Here’s why.

We all know that training causes damage to, & the breakdown of tissue within, your body. It is only when your training session comes to an end that your body begins to recover from it & adapt – by repairing the damaged tissue & producing additional red blood cells so you grow stronger & fitter.

Assuming you train for 1 hour each day, you are left with a massive 161 hours during the week to “recover”. That might sound like plenty of time from “only” 7 hours of training. But it is very easy for your lifestyle & actions during your “recovery” period to inhibit or minimise the extent to which your body adapts. Factors like getting less than 8 hours sleep each night, dehydration (and coffee, coke & tea don’t count!) & stress (whether it is physical, mental or emotional) all can take a toll.

I recently asked on the Sparta Facebook page about people’s usual post-exercise ritual. Responses ranged from breathing, dying (!) to drinking coffee & diet coke. I think most of us have done all of these things (except dying perhaps!) & more.

Failing to maximise your recovery means that your hard work in training will, to some extent, be wasted. Taking some simple & easy steps within 5 minutes from the end of your training can kick-start your recovery & allow your body to grow stronger & faster more quickly!

So here are some ways you can spend 5 minutes after your next session -

1/. do some core or strength work. Try a plank with an arm lift or a bridge while you are still warm to improve your strength & stability;

2/.  do some stretching! If you are short on time, don’t skip stretching entirely. Just stretch one body part after each session. If you train most days, by the end of the week you will have stretched almost your entire body;

3/. Use a foam roller, pool noodle or tennis ball to get rid of any tight spots or trigger points which have formed during your training session.

If you are alive & breathing, you are likely to have some tight spots & trigger points.  The longer the trigger points remain unaddressed, the more painful they become & harder to get rid of;

4/. Drink up. Have some water or a drink containing electrolytes (consider Hydrolite rather than a sports drink which can contain sugar and/or excess calories which your body doesn’t necessarily need).

5/. Eat a snack or drink which contains carbohydrate & protein in a 4:1 ratio. What you eat & drink straight after a session is critical to your recovery. Failing to refuel after a session will (adversely) affect the quality of your next training session. There is a lot of research suggesting that chocolate milk is a good recovery drink for this reason.

Enjoy your drink or snack whilst stretching, tending to your trigger points or doing your core & strength work to make the most of your time & to maximise your recovery. They say men can’t multi-task but in this, I’m sure you boys can manage ;)

We all benefit from some accountability. So let me know – which of these tips are you going to use after your next session? If you have tried one of the tips, how did you find it? What differences have you noticed in terms of your recovery & energy levels?

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