The best part about running: It’s simple. Lace up your shoes, pick a route, and go. But if you want to optimize your workout routine and avoid injuries, you need to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to recover after each run. We tapped Darcie Murphy—an endurance coach who specializes in guiding competitive trail runners and ultrarunners to top-ten performances—for key tips on post-run strategies to get the most out of your miles.
Even if it’s freezing outside, a proper ten-minute cooldown at the end of your run will dissipate metabolites from your muscles and lessen any soreness from your workout. Finish off your workout with a few light speed drills such as high knees or strides as you jog for a few minutes. These will set your legs up for a speedier run next time.
Make Stretching a Priority
After every run, stretch out your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips so they don’t tighten up. “Holding each stretch for a short 15 seconds will do the job,” says Murphy. “It’s less than a couple minutes of stretching, but it’ll have you feeling limber and fit, not sore and cramped later in the day.” For a superior muscle stretch, use a foam roller on the floor to target your most troublesome areas.
Build Upon your Muscles
Make a protein shake such as the Dymatize ISO100 your go-to recovery drink. The quick-absorbing protein helps support muscle recovery after your run and supports building muscle for your next workout. The caffeine in new Dymatize’s ISO100 in Dunkin’ Cappuccino and Mocha Latte flavors can also help jump start on your next endeavor. “Protein drinks are great for busy people who are moving quickly from a run to their next activity,” says Murphy. “They get a lot of what they need in terms of calories and recovery fuel in a quick-to-digest package.” To optimize the recovery effect, down a protein shake within 60 minutes of finishing your run, when your body’s most receptive to replenishing its energy stores. That’s how Doug Cornille, a San Francisco-based runner and the SVP of Marketing for Dymatize, uses it after his morning runs, adding, “The Dymatize ISO100 in Dunkin’ inspired coffee flavors taste like morning to me and gives me the caffeine kick to start the rest of my day.”
Take a Short Shower
Long, hot showers, especially in the winter, feel wonderful, but they sap your energy for the rest of the day. That’s a problem if you’re heading back to work or taking care of the kids. Shower long enough to clean up and then get out. “End your shower with a quick blast of cold water,” says Murphy. “This will help force you out of the shower and should leave you feeling invigorated as well.”
Runners lose a lot of water, even on dry, cold days. Plus, it takes water to speed protein synthesis in the body, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids after you’ve had your Dymatize ISO100 protein shake. “Aim to drink at least ten ounces of fluids each hour for the three to four hours after your run and protein recovery shake,” says Murphy. If you want to know how much water you lose during your workout, weigh yourself naked before and after. Each ounce lost from your workout equals an ounce of water you need to replace.
Protect Your Feet
Runners’ feet take a monumental amount of abuse, so take care of them. Dry them thoroughly after your shower, file down any calluses, trim your toenails, and clean out the gunk underneath them. “You don’t have to do it every time, but giving your feet some attention once a week should set you up for many happy miles of running,” says Murphy. Rub lotion or coconut oil into your feet to keep the skin supple and soft throughout the winter.