Q: What is your recovery routine after a long run? Rob Beange, 31, Stirling
A: I immediately have a sports drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes to rehydrate and restore my glycogen levels. Then I stretch out all my muscles gently, stopping each stretch just short of full range.
Research shows that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ in which the body is at its most receptive to refill its glycogen stores – and this is within the first couple of hours post-exercise. After stretching I will have a protein drink, as consuming protein within 30 minutes of a workout kickstarts muscle repair; within 90 minutes I ensure I get a balanced meal of meat, veg and carbs (such as grilled chicken, salmon or beef with rice, pasta or potatoes and steamed broccoli and carrots).
Some athletes have an ice bath following a long run. I don’t do this during training as I find that when I’m tired an ice bath stresses my immune system too much. The research on them is inconclusive – one study found that it could hamper the muscles’ adaptation to training, while another concluded that the constriction of the blood vessels it causes helps reduce muscle damage and flushes waste products out when the tissues warm up again. It is best to see what works for you. I tend to reserve them for between the rounds at championships.
After refuelling I’ll have a nap for about 90 minutes – I find that this really helps me to recover and be ready to train the next day. In the evening I will have a massage and then the next day, I will usually do two short recovery runs (30-40 minutes at a very comfortable pace).