When you think of ‘rest,’ you probably imagine eight hours of undisturbed sleep, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But sometimes ‘rest’ after a run can mean recovery through movement — and that activity can help prevent soreness down the road.
Known as ‘active recovery,’ an easy exercise session after a hard run can move blood into muscles, helping them repair. “Boosting circulation with active recovery cannot just prevent soreness, but it can also help relieve it, by bringing warmth to the area,” says Ryan Belsito, a USA Track & Field coach and owner of Belsito Strength & Conditioning. “An added bonus is that active recovery usually involves a different form of exercise, which can help your mind ‘recover,’ too.”
READ MORE > THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REST AND RECOVERY
Here, Belsito shares how to incorporate active recovery into your training plan — following a hard run — to keep your miles and muscles on track.
“Cycling is excellent for runners because the motion is similar but there’s no impact on joints,” Belsito says. Ride at an easy pace — in the low-intensity zone. “Your heart rate should be around 120–140,” Belsito says. “You should be able to sit on a [stationary] bike and read a book.”
“Walking on an incline strengthens the little muscles around the ankles and makes calves work in a different way,” Belsito says. “If you can hike for an hour, that’s ideal.” You cannot only map your walk, but research shows hiking in nature can help make you happier.
3. BODYWEIGHT EXERCISE
“Performing 15 minutes of core work and easier bodyweight moves can help boost circulation while strengthening muscles that help improve your form. The key is to keep it easy, meaning, you can break a light sweat, but you want to finish your workout feeling refreshed,” Belsito says. He suggests incorporating planks to strengthen your core, calf raises to stabilize ankles, and static lunges for your thighs and hips.
Sign up for an easy hatha or vinyasa flow class. If you’re on your own, perform a series of sun salutations to boost circulation and release tightness via dynamic stretching. Moving through warrior one and two poses activates thigh and calf muscles and helps stretch tight hips.
READ MORE > IDEAL MOVES FOR BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A RUN
More advanced runners can go for a light, 30-minute jog the day following a hard run. “If you can run on grass, that’s ideal because you can give your joints some extra cushioning, to keep your workout more restful,” adds Belsito.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN