I got my start in running through the Couch to 5k program. It wasn't always easy, but it got me running on a regular basis. As soon I completed my first 5k I wanted to push myself further. However, once I started training for longer distances I was much more sore after my runs. Worse still, I was just as sore the morning after.
After a few too many days walking around with stiff legs, I spent some time researching recovery tips. This isn't medical advice, it's just what I've tested and works for me. I kept t simple so that I'd actually follow through with it.
- Stretch when my run is done
- I do a slow walk for a minute or two and then stretch my quads and calf muscles.
- Drink something containing electrolytes
- I've tried a couple of different sports drinks, and most don't taste all that great to me. Coconut water tastes even worse to me, but it contains less sugar than the other choices.
- I wait around 30 minutes before showering. This gives me time to cool down so that I'm not still sweating once I'm clean.
- Roll my legs with a foam roller
- There are some pretty scary looking rollers out there, but so far a simple one has done the trick for me. 60 seconds on each leg is all it takes to work the knots out.
- Wear compression socks
- This is my favourite part. I got a pair of socks with firm (20-30 mmHg) compression which is fairly tight, but not uncomfortable. Once they're on I'll wear them for the day.
- Avoid alcohol for 24 hours
- This isn't a strict rule, but I find that booze hits a lot harder if I've run beforehand. It's also a diuretic which will slow re-hydration and recovery. I still have a drink to celebrate finished races though.
Out of all these, I've found compression socks reduce soreness the most - they're like a gentle massage you wear. After races and difficult runs I'll wear a pair of lower pressure socks overnight.