Imagine this: you’ve just completed a sweaty run and are feeling pretty proud of yourself. What’s your next move?
If you’re like most runners, you might be thinking about hopping into the shower and calling it a day. After all, you deserve some rest, right?
Well, here’s the catch: neglecting your post-run routine or rushing through it is a significant mistake.
What you do after a workout is just as vital as the training itself. Make a misstep, and you could be undermining all your hard work.
Without further ado, let’s explore eight post-run habits that can negatively affect your running performance and learn how to fix them.
Post-Run Mistake # 1: Stopping on The Spot
Going from 30 to zero is a common mistake among runners.
I get it.
You just run your last mile and want nothing but collapse on the floor and enjoy the rush.
However, this actually can do you more harm than good.
During a run, everything is forced to work at its peak.
By stopping abruptly, you cut your body’s need for increased circulation.
Properly cooling down after your run is essential for your overall well-being and can help prevent discomfort and potential health issues.
Here’s how to cool down effectively:
- Gradual Slowdown: Avoid coming to a sudden stop. Instead, gradually decrease your pace during the last 5-10 minutes of your run. Transition from running to a light jog and then to a brisk walk.
- Deep Breathing: Focus on your breathing during the cool-down phase. Take slow, deep breaths to help regulate your heart rate and bring it back to its resting state.
- Hydration: Start rehydrating immediately after your run. Drinking water or a sports drink with electrolytes can help replenish fluids lost during your workout.
- Stretching: Perform gentle static stretching exercises to improve flexibility and prevent muscle tightness. Focus on major muscle groups, such as your legs, hips, back, and chest. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds without bouncing.
- Foam Rolling: Consider using a foam roller to massage and release tension in your muscles. Foam rolling can aid in reducing muscle soreness and improving mobility.
- Walking: Continue walking for a few minutes to allow your body to gradually return to its normal state. This helps with blood circulation and prevents blood pooling in your extremities.
- Reflect: Use this time to reflect on your run and how you felt during it. Pay attention to any discomfort or unusual sensations, which can be valuable information for future training.
Post-Run Mistake # 2: Skipping The Stretch
Whether stretching helps performance and prevents injury is somewhat controversial, but there’s no denying that the best time to stretch is just after a run—when the muscles are pliable and warm.
In fact, I consider stretching to be an integral part of any training program.
Stretching your running muscles following a run breaks down lactic acid, improves flexibility, and speeds up your fitness gains.
Stretching can indeed be beneficial when done correctly and at the right time, especially after a run.
Here’s how to incorporate post-run stretching effectively into your routine:
- Static Stretching: Focus on static stretches, where you hold a stretch position without bouncing. This helps lengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. Some essential stretches for runners include:
- Quadriceps Stretch: Stand on one leg, bend your knee, and grasp your ankle behind you. Gently pull your heel toward your glutes while keeping your knees close together.
- Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended straight and the other foot against the inner thigh of the extended leg. Lean forward from your hips while keeping your back straight.
- Calf Stretch: Place one foot behind you with the heel on the ground and the toes pointing forward. Bend the front knee and lean forward, feeling the stretch in your calf muscle.
- Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on one knee and step the other foot forward, bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. Push your hips forward while keeping your upper body upright.
- IT Band Stretch: Cross one leg behind the other and lean to the opposite side, reaching your arm overhead. This stretches the iliotibial (IT) band on the outer thigh.
Here are three of my favorite runner’s friendly stretching routines:
You can also foam roll your running muscles.
Post-Run Mistake # 3: Not Replacing Fluids
Alright, folks, let’s talk about a common blunder many runners make—failing to rehydrate properly after a good run.
Proper hydration is not just some fancy term; it’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I need some love after all that hard work!”
So, picture this: You’ve just conquered your morning run, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re on cloud nine from that endorphin rush.
But wait, don’t let your post-run glow fool you. Your body is quietly screaming for some H2O.
You see, after sweating it out, your body’s fluid levels are like a drained water bottle. Now, you might think, “Oh, I’ll just grab a coffee or a snack; I’m good.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong, my running friend.
The solution is simple: water, water, and more water! Hydrating post-run is like giving your body a refreshing drink of life. It can help you avoid mood swings, cramps, and all the not-so-fun stuff.
Now, I know you’re wondering, “How much is enough?” Well, that’s where it gets a bit personal. Your hydration needs depend on various factors like your weight, sweat rate, and the weather. But here’s a ballpark figure: aim for about half your body weight in ounces daily.
For example, if you tip the scales at 160 pounds, your hydration goal should be around 80 ounces. And if you’re a heavy sweater, like me, on a hot summer day, consider chugging an extra 500 to 600 milliliters for every hour you spend pounding the pavement
Oh, and here’s a handy trick to gauge your hydration status—check the color of your pee! If it’s the color of a dark, ominous storm cloud, that’s a surefire sign that you’re slacking in the hydration department. But if it’s a nice pale yellow, you’re on the right track.
Post-Run Mistake #4: Not Changing Out Of Your Running Clothes
Let’s talk about a post-run faux pas that’s not just smelly but also a bit risky. So, picture this: you’ve just crushed your run, and you’re feeling on top of the world. What’s the first thing you do? If it’s lounging around in your sweaty workout gear, we need to talk!
Sure, your running clothes might be comfy, but there’s a downside to keeping them on for too long—they become clingy, sticky, and a breeding ground for all sorts of moisture-related nasties. We’re talking rashes, body acne, and the stuff of bacterial nightmares, like yeast and Staph infections. Yikes!
The solution is as simple as a change of clothes. Carry a clean set of duds with you—underwear, a fresh T-shirt, socks, and, for the ladies, a clean sports bra. Trust me; it’s a game-changer.
Now, I get it; we’re not always in a position to hop into the shower right away. That’s where wet wipes or baby wipes come in handy. They’re like a mini spa day for your post-run self.
A quick wipe-down, a change of clothes, and you’re ready to take on the world smelling like roses.
Here’s how to keep your running clothes smelling fresh.
Post-Run Mistake #5: Eating Junk
Alright, folks, let’s talk about a common post-run pitfall: indulging in junk food. Now, I get it: after a grueling run, you might feel like you’ve earned a treat.
But here’s the truth bomb—just because you’ve burned a ton of calories doesn’t mean you should dive headfirst into a burger-and-fries bonanza or crack open a whole pack of beer.
Running does torch calories, but your body needs quality fuel for recovery, especially if you’re aiming to shed some pounds or speed up your post-run healing process.
Well, besides eating healthily before your runs, you’ve got to pay attention to your post-run refueling, too.
Say a firm “No, thank you” to the following culinary culprits:
- Fast food
- Fruit juice
- Anything that’s essentially empty calories
But hold on, I know life can get busy, and sometimes, a full meal isn’t in the cards right after your run.
How about packing a healthy snack in advance? Something like a protein brownie or a soy bar can do the trick. These post-run bites should not only curb your cravings but also replenish your carbohydrate and protein stores.
Consider these options for your post-run nibble:
- Nuts with cottage cheese
- Fresh fruits
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- A turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
Post-Run Mistake # 6: Embracing The Couch After A Hard Run
I totally get it.
After a hard run, that couch is calling your name, and the thought of a Netflix marathon seems incredibly tempting.
But here’s a little nugget of wisdom: embracing a bit of post-run movement can do wonders for your body and recovery.
Low-impact, low-intensity movements are your best friends in this situation. They help improve blood circulation and assist in clearing out those byproducts your muscles release during your run.
On the flip side, lounging around like a sloth can actually harm your body more than you might think.
In fact, research has thrown some shade on prolonged sitting. People who spend more than six hours a day parked in a chair face a 30 percent greater risk of meeting their demise due to a major disease.
That’s not the way we want to go out, is it?
Instead of surrendering to the couch’s siren call, aim to keep the blood flowing and promote recovery with 20 to 30 minutes of light activity. Think of activities like gentle yoga, some foam rolling, a bit of core work, or functional bodyweight exercises.
But hold up, it doesn’t have to be all structured exercise.
Here are some nifty alternatives to get you moving:
- Swap out your desk chair for an exercise ball (your core will thank you).
- Set a timer to remind you to stand up and take a quick stroll every 45 minutes.
- If you’re a phone chatter, consider pacing around while you chat or invest in a Bluetooth headset for those walking phone meetings.
- And if you’re feeling fancy, why not try a standing desk? If you’re on a budget, stack up some hefty hardcover books, plop your laptop on top, and voilà!
Post-Run Mistake # 7: Not Tracking What You’re Doing
Picture this: you can’t improve on what you can’t measure. In fact, I’ll boldly state that if you can’t measure it, it might as well not exist. Yep, that’s the importance of keeping tabs on your running journey.
Monitoring your training isn’t just about measuring progress; it’s also a powerful motivator, both in the short term and the long haul. Surprisingly, not all runners are in the habit of keeping track of their training, and that’s a mistake.
Whether you’re old-school with a classic running journal, tech-savvy with a running app, or spreadsheet-savvy with Excel, start tracking your running stats. Here’s what to keep an eye on:
- Running mileage: Know how many miles you’re logging.
- Running speed: Measure your pace and how it’s evolving.
- Calories burned: Keep tabs on those burned calories.
- Pre and post-run nutrition: What’s fueling your runs?
Now, let’s not forget about your body. Track these too:
- Regular weigh-ins: Step on that scale and record your weight.
- Before and after photos: Snap some pics to see your visual progress.
- Body circumferences: Measure those body parts!
- Body fat percentages: Understand your body composition.
And, for that extra motivation boost, periodically test your fitness level. It’s like giving yourself a little challenge to conquer.
Post-Run Mistake # 8: Ignoring Sleep Needs
Let’s talk about something crucial: sleep. You see, proper sleep is the key to a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about feeling refreshed; it’s about boosting your recovery, enhancing your performance, and even taming those hunger hormones that try to steer you toward late-night fridge raids.
Ever found yourself aimlessly scrolling through a delivery app, making one too many orders in the wee hours? Yeah, that’s sleep deprivation playing tricks on you. But wait, there’s more to this story!
Runners who clock in more than nine hours of sleep per night have reported improved sprint times and better results on reaction tests. So, sleep isn’t just a luxury; it’s a secret weapon for your running journey.
But how much is enough? Well, the magic number varies, but here’s a rough guideline: aim for a cozy seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. According to Stanford University research, the more you run, the more sleep your body craves. So listen to your body and snooze your way to success!