Under the current lockdown conditions, lots of people are looking at changing their exercise routines, or even starting one for the first time! If you rely on the regular gentle exertion of doing your job to keep yourself fit – whether that’s walking or cycling to work, or working in a factory or on a shop floor – and that’s no longer possible, then you need to make some changes to maintain your current level of fitness. If you’re bored and frustrated by the current restrictions on our movements and activities, then working on building your fitness can be a great way to alleviate the mental strain of enforced inactivity.
Running is a great form of first time exercise for our current needs: you don’t need any special equipment, and you can do it alone – indeed many people prefer to run alone! Today we’re looking at an aspect of running that many trying out their first couch to 5k plan might overlook: recovery.
Why Recovery is Important
Any form of exertion places stress on the body. If you don’t take the necessary action to relieve that stress, you could do yourself permanent damage, or less seriously, put yourself in long lasting discomfort.
If you don’t take care of yourself after your run, you could make it harder for yourself to get back out there, and stop yourself committing to your new hobby!
A run in any weather can raise a sweat – that’s the point of exercise, after all – but as we enter the summer, the hot, dry weather can leave you seriously dehydrated. It’s wise to carry water with you on a long run, but for a short run, make plans to rehydrate immediately afterwards. The best hydration methods don’t just involve drinking water, because it’s not just water that you lose during exercise. Your sweat also contains important nutrients and salts called electrolytes that you need to replenish. A sports rehydration drink or soluble rehydration tablets don’t just top up your water level, they also replenish those important compounds.
No one would dispute the importance of warming up at the beginning of a run, but a lot of beginners miss out on the equally important ‘warm down’ period. It’s important not to go straight from a flat out run to a halt: this can lead to aches, pains and muscle stiffness. Time your exercise to allow a period of slowing down, ending your run with a brisk walk to your door.
Stretching out the muscles you’ve been using, most notably the quads, calves and hamstrings is important – especially if you’ve been out for an extended or intense run. This helps them return to their resting state after they’ve tensed and shortened for your run – this helps to avoid muscle strain, pain and spasms and ensures you are ready for your next run quicker!