After a hard workout or a tough long run, you should begin by hydrating within the first 10-15 minutes after stopping.
Even if the temperature was cool, or downright cold, you still sweat a significant amount and you need to replace the fluid loss.
An electrolyte solution like Gatorade (or a spray that goes in any drink like Enduro Packs) works well and you should aim for 16-20oz of fluid.
When running in the summer, you can use our sweat loss calculator to determine the exact amount of fluid you need to replace.
What to eat after a run
After you’re hydrated, you can begin your stretching routine while also ingesting your post run snack or beverage.
This post run fuel could be something like chocolate milk, Endurox, yogurt and granola, banana and peanut butter bagel with orange juice. You want to aim for a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
I’ve also experimented with glucose tablets (made for diabetics) directly after running, especially when I travel. The tablet is pure glucose, which stimulates the insulin response in the body and ignites the recovery process.
It’s a quick and dirty trick if you’re crunched for time or have a sensitive stomach.
Stretching is good after running only
Stretching and post run fuelling should begin within 25-30 minutes of finishing your run.
The stretching should last 10-15 minutes, focusing on the major muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips) as well as anything that is nagging or felt sore on the run.
While the merits of stretching are a hotly debated topic in running circles, I believe stretching after a run is beneficial.
If you have a foam roller and are experiencing any small injuries, it would also be beneficial to roll out on the foam roller to alleviate any knots and tightness.
Ice bath is miserable now, but worth it later
Fill your bath tub with cold water and add ice until the temperature reaches a balmy 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a thermometer, the ice should still completely melt, but it should take about 3-5 minutes for a normal size ice cube to do so.
Next, grab a towel and your favourite magazine and submerse your entire lower body, up to your hips, in the water. Now, the trick to ice baths is surviving the first 3 minutes.
Bite the towel and dream about your biggest goals. This will help you get through the hardest part of the ordeal.
After 3 minutes or so, you’ll notice the temperature feels more temperate and you can actually relax a little. If you are a veteran ice bather, or just a sadistic human being, you can kick your legs a little to stir up the water.
This will help circulate the warm water surrounding your body and make things cold again.
Remain in the tub for 10-15 minutes.
Trust me, the more you ice bath, the more comfortable this process becomes.
After letting all the water drain from the tub, go ahead and take your shower. Your legs will feel cold for a few hours, but your muscles will thank you later.
Eat a well-balanced meal 1-2 hours after your run.
After the ice bath, you’ll want to ensure that you get a well-balanced meal in your system.
To completely refuel within your second optimal window, your muscles need something more substantial.
If you run in the morning, this could be breakfast – eggs with veggies and whole wheat toast, oatmeal with fruit and toast, I even think pancakes are a decent choice if you top with fruit and yogurt.
Lunch or dinner could be salad with a sandwich, pasta.
You just want to consume a high quality meal with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This will provide your body with the final nutrients it needs to top off the recovery process. Beetroot and Avocado is reach in vitamins and minerals.
By Riaan Myburgh. Credit to Victor Peters