Recovery Tips for Post-Long Runs

Now that the racing season is full on, to make sure you include all the important recovery factors in your training plan will help you get through all your training and races feeling strong, healthy, and avoid injuries. Proper recovery includes physical and nutrition plans.

Physical Recovery

  • Stretching- Including regular stretching sessions after each run will look after tight muscles, joint release, and blood flow. Different muscles tighten during some runs, some muscles are always tight, others get tighter once other muscles get weaker due to fatigue or lack of muscle strengthening exercises. That is why it is very important to add some stretching exercises after every run and training sessions. Focus on the basic muscles; hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes and piriformis, and chest.
  • Foam Rolling- Including foam rolling sessions three-six times per week will have major benefits in loosening muscle tightness, and deep tissue release. Focus on all the basic muscles, even the back. When our back is tight, all the other muscles get affected.
  • Sports Massage- Include a sport massage twice a month especially when running long-distance runs. Professional sport massages will loosen and relax all the muscles, and even our brain.
  • Physiotherapy- It is important to include physiotherapy sessions as soon as you start feeling some acute or regular pain when running. To get the proper diagnosis and treatment will prevent any injuries.

Nutrition for Recovery

  • Refuel- After a training session or race, it is important to include some recovery fueling within 30-60mins. Depending on running distance or stomach status, make sure you include some carbohydrates and light protein. The generic recommendation is 4:1 carbs/protein, but depending on the training intensity or distance and your body type as long as you include a minimum of 200-250 calories of carbs and light protein your body will replenish until your get to eat a proper meal. Recovery drinks are also another option for easier access and rapid intake. Especially when your body is very tired, eating solid foods might be a challenge (after running and Ultra), but taking a recovery drink will be beneficial and easy to digest.
  • Rebuild- Long training runs or races, creates a constant natural breakdown of protein, it increases through stress on the muscles, tearing fibres. We need protein to help rebuild and repair the muscles. Our body can process 20-25g every 2-3 hours. Post-training you can include some protein powder (whey, plant-based, casein), and make sure you include protein in every meal and snacks (lean meat, fish, lentils, nuts, seeds etc). The recommended average daily protein intake is 1.5g/kg bodyweight. But for ultra-runners, the recommendation for male: 1.98g/kg bodyweight, for female: 1.78g/kg bodyweight. Healthy carbohydrates in every meal are also important. On training days, make sure you eat some healthy carbs, even through fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy grains. On rest days, you can concentrate on protein and healthy fats and lower carbs. Healthy fats help the body to absorb and process all the essential nutrients.
  • Rehydrate- Rehydration is key to help with the body’s natural recovery process. You need enough fluid in your body to transport waste products out of the muscles and deliver recovery nutrients and electrolytes. To only drink plain water, might affect your kidneys, which will take longer to properly rehydrate and you might feel dehydrated. Combine plain water with some fresh electrolyte drinks; coconut water, beetroot juice, water with lemon or lime and some salt.
  • Supplements to rebalance, repair and reinforce- Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium are also used in energy production. After long runs, sweating, and being used in energy metabolism, the body gets depleted of the basic electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. They must be replaced regularly to restore the body’s normal function. Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D and C are essential to combat oxidative stress that occurs during intense training sessions, which can add to muscle damage. Other essential vitamins and minerals for runners are potassium, magnesium to help with muscle recovery, reduce fatigue and help with better sleep, vitamin B12 and B6 also help reduce fatigue. Good sources of vitamin B6 are kale, tuna, sunflower seeds. Zinc helps with protein synthesis. You can get a portion of these supplements through natural foods; green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli. Iron, a very common mineral ultra-runners get depleted of, especially women. To eat iron-rich foods to support the body oxidation should be part of your daily diet; meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, combine it with some vitamin C foods (broccoli, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon, oranges strawberries) to help with iron absorption. Some omega3’s supplements are also essential for muscle and metabolism recovery, good sources are salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds.

Taking extra supplements for all the vitamins and minerals are also part of an ideal nutrition plan for ultra-runners. Running long-distance regularly, gets our body depleted of several nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Include multi-vitamins and extra supplements to protect your body and immune system.

Train Well, Eat Right, Feel Great!

Power Up and Down Hills with the Right Pace

Uphill runs are great training sessions for speed training, leg strengthening, VO2max, and heart rate training. Most runners push too hard on the uphill, with the wrong running form, which affect their recovery time once on the up. If runners run above their fast pace on the uphill, it might take more than one minute to recover once at the top, affecting the start of the downhill and the running form as well.

How to Run Uphill?

Running uphill, you must maintain an even effort, similar to fast efforts on flats and sustainable the whole way up, or you risk burning too much energy you can’t regain later on. If you run too fast on climbs, it will cause your breathing and heart rate to spike, similar to sprinting too hard.
Include uphill training sessions once or twice/week, depending on your race training goal. These uphill sessions will develop the ability for your body to get used to that strong sustainable pace. Find uphill that take 10 minutes or longer, shorter climbs are great for uphill speedwork training. Simulate the effort you would expand on a flat run, no matter how slow it feels. If it gets too hard, slow down and ease up. On the uphill, running in long strides puts more impact on the legs, knees and wastes a lot of energy. On the up shorten your stride to make the running much easier on the legs, even the heart rate.

Getting to the Top

When pushing too hard on the uphill, runners get to the top with low energy, out of breath, and spiking heart rate, which will create longer recovery issues. If you get to the top feeling ok, you can start on the down feeling fresh. Once you get to the top, maintain your short stride until you feel the recovery. Once you recovered after 30 secs- 1 min. switch to a long natural stride on the downhill.

Running Downhill

Some runners are better on the uphill while other on the downhill. Runners should focus on their weaker run. Downhill training is as important as uphill as it involves a lot of impact and pounding. Running downhill strengthens our glutes and quadriceps, but to save our quads and knees, we knee to focus on engaging the glutes on the downhill so they can support the impact, not the knees or quads, which can create painful knee injuries. If you sprint and push too hard on the up, your legs will be overtired and won’t be able to support the pounding on the downhill. Good running form on the downhill is essential to use gravity to your advantage. On the downhill make sure you don’t heel strike to keep breaking every step, which tightens the hip flexors and increases the impact on the knees. Keep your arms wide and low for balance, relax your hip flexors and engage your glutes. To start training in proper downhill form, you can shorten your stride and focus on quick steps to practice on the natural form, your breathing will get better, heart rate slower and then progress to longer natural stride “Flying Down”

Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!

Collagen Peptides Supplements for Runners and Atheltes

Collagen supplements are getting more and more popular amongst runners and athletes. The benefits of collagen peptides are clearly seen in athletes’ overall health, strength and recovery. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is the key component of all connective tissue. Collagen provides the infrastructure of the musculoskeletal system, essential for mobility. Peptides are short chain amino acids naturally derived from collagen protein. Collagen represents 90% of organic bone mass and is a major component of ligaments, joints, and tendons. Collagen peptides powder supplements provide rapid absorption and repair of all structure in the body. The challenge to consume natural foods with collagen is that it is found in ligaments, cartilage and bone marrow of certain animals that we simply don’t eat very much. Most people focus on lean forms of protein or plant-based diets, that causes a high level of collagen deficiency. Fortunately, we can replace our loss of collagen by adding collagen peptides supplements powder to our daily diet. Also, eating certain foods that will help the body to synthesize collagen is very important.

Benefits of Collagen Peptides for Runners and Athletes

-Improves circulation
-Supports bone density and joint health
-Promotes recovery
-Decreases joint discomfort
-Supports healthy inflammation response due to endurance training
-Boosts metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass (even helps with weight loss)
-Improves gastrointestinal function (helps increase the integrity of the epithelial lining, tight junctions and reduces gut inflammation.
-Increases stomach acid to help improve the absorption of nutrients.

For runners and athletes, consuming collagen peptides can help with protecting joint tissue, ligaments muscles and tendons. Collagen deficiency can result in joint pain and systematic or localized swelling (targeted areas like knees or ankles). Taking collagen peptides daily, especially after long-distance training or strength training can improve the tissue, joint and muscle recovery, and provides 18g of protein per serving.  Also, taking collagen peptide supplements plays an important role in muscle development which helps to increase your metabolism and energy levels. Taking collagen (especially combined with exercise) helps to increase skeletal muscle gains resulting in an increased metabolism. For runner with injuries, collagen peptides are so helpful in the healing process, making it much faster and more efficient.

 What are collagen peptides?

Collagen peptides are small bioactive peptides obtained by enzymatically hydrolysis of collagen, the breaking down of the molecular bonds between individual collagen strands to peptides. Collagen peptides powder is the best and easiest supplement to add to your daily diet, you can add it to any of your meals, drinks, smoothies, baking. To include specific foods that contain antioxidants to help the body synthesize collagen is also essential. The only foods that actually contain collagen is grass-fed bone broth and egg yolks.

Top 10 foods to help with collagen synthesis

  1. Wild Salmon- Contains zinc, a mineral that’s been shown to activate the proteins needed for collagen synthesis.
  2. Chlorella- Contains a nutrient that helps boost collagen production; Chlorella Growth Factor.
  3. Leafy Greens- Contain chlorophyll to help prevent collagen breakdown (bok choy, arugula, kale, spinach, lettuce, green beans, broccoli).
  4. Citrus- Vitamin C helps link the amino acids together to help form collagen (collagen production phase).
  5. Eggs- Rare food that contains collagen in the yolk and eggshell membranes. Also, rich in sulfur, a mineral required for collagen production.
  6. Berries- Contain a nutrient called ellagic acid to prevent collagen breakdown.
  7. Tomatoes- Rich in the antioxidant lycopene which helps prevent collagen breakdown.
  8. Pumpkin Seeds- One of the richest plant sources of zinc to help with collagen synthesis and lower the rate of collagen breakdown.
  9. Avocado- Provides powerful antioxidant benefits and vitamin E to help prevent collagen breakdown.
  10. Garlic- Contains sulfur which helps synthesize and prevent collagen breakdown.
Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!

The Importance of Compound Exercises for Runners

Runners know the importance of building up muscle strength and core strength. The most efficient exercises not only to build up muscle strength, but to also to add multi-joint movements, use more muscle groups are compound exercises.

What are compound exercises?

Compound movements use more than one muscle group, you can activate a variety of muscles at once rather than focusing on a single muscle isolation exercise. When performing compound exercises it also involves three categories; cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training, which is essential to help improve your running form and performance. Runners also need to combine intervals, hill repeats and tempo session in their running training plan to balance all the muscle strengthening benefits.

Basic compound exercises using multiple muscles at the same time:

  • Dumbbell Squat Thrust:  Squat with shoulder press. Start with dumbbells on the shoulders.
  • Sumo Squat High Row: Sumo squat with dumbbells, lift elbows high.
  • Reverse Lunge Bicep Curl: Reverse lunge step back, come back up and bring the forward leg up, and perform bicep curl with dumbbells.
  • Lateral Lunge Touchdown Press Up: Side lunge, reach down to the right foot with the dumbbells and press up on the up.
  • Renegade Row: Start in plank position, perform one push up, then pull one dumbbell up to the side of the chest and alternate. Make sure you engage the core and push both feet into the ground to stabilize the body.
  • Bridge Chest Fly: Start in bridge, when lifting the hips press up then perform chest fly opening the arms, go back down.
  • Burpee Push Up- Jump into plank, push up and jump back up.

Perform 10-15 reps & 2-3 sets twice or three times per week

Benefits of compound exercises:

  1. Improves muscular coordination– This is the function and timing of multiple muscles around joints. For example, when performing a squat press up, the whole gluteus complex (gluteus maximus, medius, minimus) is involved, they move the hips in all three planes of motion and the press ups work on strengthening the arms and shoulders. This type of exercise work the muscles together to produce and control force.
  2. Cardiovascular training benefit– Cardiovascular fitness means how effective your heart is at pumping blood and oxygen around the body, and how your muscles use oxygen to give you energy to sustain your performance. Doing exercises that involve a significant amount of tissue is more beneficial in cardio strength training. Improving cardio for runners is so important to provide more energy for endurance, uphill running. Performing these compound exercises challenges the heart to pump blood to keep the muscles fueled and active.
  3. Improves movement efficiency– Training only one muscle group at a time does not teach multiple muscle groups to coordinate their contractions and firing rates, which is how muscles contract. If you notice, muscle builders often move like robots, due to only isolation exercises. Compound exercises that involve large groups of muscles train the muscles how to coordinate the firing of the motor units responsible for timing muscle contractions. These exercises improve movement skills and dynamic balance, which can improve the running form and prevent injuries.
  4. Improves dynamic flexibility– Compound exercises involve an active range of motion which is a form of dynamic stretching, which involves moving a joint through a range of motion to lengthen the surrounding tissue. When performing an exercise where muscles on one side of a joint contract, the muscles on the opposite side have to lengthen to allow contraction to occur.  After a few reps, the contractions and activity in the triggered muscles elevate the temperature and inhibit activity, which reduces tension and improves length. Think of lunges, squats combined with arm strengthening exercises.
  5. Hormone release– Performing compound exercises is highly effective in stimulating and increasing testosterone and growth hormones, which are essential for overall health. Testosterone hormones are responsible for building muscles, and burning fat. Running also increases testosterone hormone levels, especially short-distance, intervals, and speedwork. Growth hormones (HGH), are responsible for all cells inside the body, contributes to cell reproduction and regeneration, which is very important for improving running performance and endurance. Both hormones also contribute to fat burning, Compound exercises provide “afterburn effect”, burning more calories after your workout EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. You can burn 10-15% more calories post-training up to 24 hours.
    Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!