If you are like most runners, you enjoy getting up early and heading out for a run just as the world is slowly waking up from its slumber. Or, maybe you are someone who doesn’t mind catching a run after your work no matter how long your day was. But, when it comes to self-care, most runners struggle with taking time off from running, even if it’s for one day.
As a long-distance, it is natural to want to push your body so hard during training because you are determined to crush your goals. However, more is not always better when it comes to running. Self-care and recovery must form a critical part of your training process.
Know When to Rest
To rest or not to rest? Most athletes, whether professional or regular runners, find themselves staring at this question one time or the other. If you are someone who faces the same dilemma, there are a few tell-tale signs your body sends out that you should carefully listen to. Here are some of them:
- Are your neck and shoulders tensed instead of relaxed?
- Do you clench your jaw or furrow your brow?
- Are you breathing normally or are your breaths are coming in low shallow gasps?
- Are your fists clenched?
- Do you run with a hunch or do you feel strong?
- Are you experiencing any pain or discomfort in any part of your body?
- Are you getting tired sooner than you normally do?
Asking yourself these questions will help you assess the condition your body is in. Taking some time off to recover from your training is an important part of the training process itself. It’s pivotal to learn what your body is demanding from you to reinvigorate your spirit and sharpen your focus.
A great way to jumpstart recovery and self-care is by ensuring you are eating enough calories and hydration. You need to check in to make sure you are providing your body with the right nutrients. Your meals should be rich in both carbs and proteins to re-fuel you optimally. It is important to keep yourself well-hydrated as well. Generally, about 60 to 80 ounces of water is enough for most people in a day. Being an athlete, you can include some electrolytes, like nuun, as well in your fluid intake depending on your training levels.
Meditation and practicing mindfulness can further facilitate a quick recovery for your body as well as your mind. We often tend to neglect our mental health in the pursuit of our goals. Taking some time off from your training to calm your central nervous system can significantly improve the mental wear and tear associated with it. Mindfulness facilitates better body awareness and helps you adapt to the next hard workout. Mindfulness does not have to be still, you can practice mindfulness while doing stretching, doing yoga, or while on a walk.
Get Plenty of Sleep
When you are putting in several months of intensive training to prepare for a half-marathon, you need adequate rest. Depending on the intensity and length of your workout, your body requires at least 36 to 48 hours to reboot. When you sleep, you give your body the best opportunity to rebuild and recover. Make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Cut down on your screen time so you can get some quality shut-eye for restorative sleep.
Train Hard, Self-care Harder
Your physical potential can get amplified when you learn how to properly care for your body. Invest in physical therapies or self-massages to accelerate your recovery from hard training sessions. These therapies can prevent injuries that may otherwise keep you sidelined. They help reduce the tightness, tension, or any knots in your tissues and fascia that can cause strain in other areas. Epsom salt baths are a great way to help your body recover and also a great place to practice mediation while soaking up the goodness of a hot bath.
That’s A Wrap!
Self-care comes with great rewards when you commit yourself to it. When you focus on allowing your body to recover from training, you significantly decrease the likelihood of injuries or runner burnout. You feel less fatigued and more motivated to enjoy a fulfilling running career ahead. It’s time to start treating your mind and body right by giving them rest, proper nutrition, and the care they deserve. We hope these tips help you learn more about your body and allow you to perform at your best potential at future athletic events.