Yesterday was my “Kick Myself in the Ass” day to do my first run of over 10 miles. My friend Rushton tapped out of the 4:30 AM run for good reason: her husband’s Alma Mater Alabama was in the National Championship football game the night before. I needed this run to see where my fitness level was and to take that important mental step to reintroduce myself to the pain of endurance running.
The reason for this blog post is to show you a live example of what I did to help speed up my post-workout recovery and to help avoid an injury during my follow-up runs over the next week or so. After my 100 minute run, I was not able to relax on the couch, schedule a massage at the spa or join friends in a yoga class after lunch. Runner injuries are too common for athletes, young and old.
After this workout, like most of my workouts, I guzzled some water and Gatorade, grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way tot he shower, loved on my wife and children, shared a bowl of cereal with my son (he insists on drinking the last of the cereal milk) and race to work to start my busy day.
Healing With a Hectic Lifestyle
Here’s exactly what I did, in order, to gain the benefits of my workout while reducing my chances of it leading to an injury. (Time to perform these steps is noted)
- Drained My Legs – I elevated my legs on the wall for 3 minutes while pumping my ankles and wiggling my toes to promote the drainage of waste products from my legs. (3 mins)
- Pushed The Fluids – 50/50% Rules of water and sports drink. (2 mins)
- Carbs and Protein – Replenish my muscle stores and help the recovery process. I finish the 2nd half of my whole-grain bagel with almond butter. (2 mins)
- Roll the Pain Away – I’m a very loyal roller before and after most workouts. (3 mins)
- Quick Stretch – I don’t do this as long as I would like but a slow and steady stretch of my hamstrings, quads, ITB’s, calves and hip flexors surely makes a difference. (4 mins)
- Advil & Glucosamine – Helps keep my muscles and joins healthy. (30 secs)
- Ice Bag on Calf – Wrapped ice on sore calf to shower with, saving time. (1 min)
- Cold Shower – Lowering my body core temperature and thermally aiding in the reduction of inflammation is always a good thing. (4 mins)
- Ice with Compression – Wearing my 110% calf sleeves with ice inserts helps me recover during my 30 minute drive to work and while I’m on my feet for 90% of the remainder of the day. (30 secs)
Total Time Expenditure: 20 minutes (only 1.394% of your day)
My legs were a bit stiff when I first got out of my car but that quickly passes with a brisk walk into the stadium. My “healing” started as soon as my run ended. Instead of waiting for the obvious pain to set in and dealing with a chronic problem, I put my body in a position to optimize its recovery capabilities.
As you can see, none of these steps were difficult or time-consuming. Injury prevention doesn’t have to be complicated. As I like to demonstrate with Mike Ryan Fitness, injury prevention and sports medicine can be quite simple.
As the large John Wooden quote wisely displays on the wall in the Jaguars’ Athletic Training Room: “Perfection of small makes big things happen.”
Take Home Point
Stop looking at your busy schedule as a reason why you can’t dream big as an athlete. Working your fitness plans around your crazy life is just part of the workout. Take it in stride, do the little things to promote your recovery after every workout and know that you can’t put a price on great health.