Tips for Fast & Healthy Running

The big race is this Saturday…the Gate River Run 15 km USA Championship Race.  This race goes well beyond a local “bragging rights” race by being one of the most organized sporting events in the country, thanks to Race Director Doug Alred and his 1st Place Sports staff.

I ran my first River Run in 1995 and I try to compete in the very challenging race every year.  What I’ve learned from this race is that the distance, the large number of turns and, of course, the bridges make it a race that can easily leave me sore.

In an effort to help my readers to experience a successful race and a healthy finish, I’ve put together my sports medicine tips for healthy running.

Pre-Race Checklist

Train Smart – It’s too late to make any significant gains this late in the week for a Saturday race.  My rule of thumb is the best thing to do to help myself during race week is to ensure that my legs are FRESH.  Be smart and allow yourself to relax and rest more than squeezing in the last few dangerous miles…..and your legs will thank you on the Hart Bridge.

Grease the Dogs – A 1/2 inch blister can ruin a great race.  A light coat of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on toes, arches, heels and anywhere you may experience chaffing will help you run comfortably during the day and give you a great reason to dance painfree that night.

Drink Early & Often – In cool or hot weather, you still need fluids.  A consistent habit of consuming a 50% water and 50% sports drink mix starting 24 hours before the race will keep you fast and safe.  Keeping the same plan both during and after the race is always smart.

Recovering From the River Run

Your recovery starts the minute you cross the finish line.  It doesn’t take much effort on your part but if you implement these tips to supercharge your recovery, you’ll be thankful that you did come Monday morning as you head back to work to brag about your record time in “the big race”!

Push the Fluids – I know that the post-race beer trailer sure looks more inviting than the Hart Bridge but it might not be the best option for you 90 seconds after hitting the finish line.  Drink extra water and sports drinks to replace the fluids, calories and the ever-important electrolytes before you toast a cold one with the crew.

Carb Time – Carbohydrates have gotten a bad wrap in the weight-loss world but after any hard race or cardio workout, they are your best friend. Healthy running needs good sources of calories and carbs is the key to that fuel.

Drain Your Legs – Elevate your legs straight up in the air and pump your ankles within 20 minutes after the race for 5 – 10 minutes.  Use gravity to your advantage to help your lymphatic system to drain “the bad stuff” from your hard-working legs.

Run Out the Pain – Trust me on this one….run the next day after every race and every hard workout.  It may only be an easy 1 mile trot on the soccer field or a 10 minutes of light side-shuffles and agility drills on the soft beach but its extremely helpful to force your legs be lightly loaded the day they are pushed aggressively.

Massage and Stretch – Get your legs, feet and hips massaged and stretched as soon as possible to keep the natural waste products from the race to become embedded in the membranes of your muscles.

Pain Relief – If you have no medical complications, taking a small dose of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine a few hours after the race and before going to bed the night after the race will help put some skip in your step when the sun comes up in the morning.

Ice and Compression Sure ICE therapy hurts but it’s necessary if you’ve raced hard.  If your legs hurts, ice them for 15 minutes and follow up with a compression sleeve when walking or running for the next few days.  This is a great way to control extremity edema and accelerate your recovery.

I hope that you’re as excited about the race as I am.  I hope these sports medicine tips from Mike Ryan Fitness help you to have a fun River Run with a fast recovery.

Stay healthy & happy and I’ll see you on the road this Saturday!


Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

8 thoughts on “Tips for Fast & Healthy Running”

  1. Thanks Mike for good, common sense advice. Always good to hear from someone who actually participates in the sport along with us”regular folk.

    1. Hey Carol,
      It’s good to hear that my running tips have been helpful for you. As for being a participant of sporting events, I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else have all the fun. As for the NFL, they hit way too hard for me so the sidelines is a much smarter place for me to hangout! Stay healthy & happy, Carol.

    1. Hey Lisa,
      Thank you for your comments and for sharing your great Draining the Legs article. I’m happy to see that you’re an ice & elevation freak like me! MDR

  2. Hi Mike,
    I read your article before the River Run and took your advice. I did a slow 2 mile recovery run the next day which is something new for me. I was actually sore after the RR which is unusual, probably because I pushed so hard. The recovery run helped a lot! thanks for some good advice.

    1. Great to hear, Vicky. I’m happy the article helped your recovery and I hope it keeps you healthy enough to train safely all year long. MDR

  3. Hey Mike,

    I like this game plan of icing and compression for adult runners. I have even scene pro-soccer players using recovery tights. But what are your thoughts on ice bathes? I work in a high school setting and I am looking for better information for my coaches (football, soccer, etc.) on proper ice bath techniques and timing (how long and after which types of practices).

    1. Thanks for your question, Seth. I don’t like ice baths….I LOVE them! Be it for myself or my athletes, ice baths help decrease injuries, control swelling, rapidly lower body core temperature and promote healing for healthy individuals with no vascular pathologies. Interestingly, the individuals that speak negatively about cryotherapy are usually those that find it too uncomfortable for themselves.
      Ice Bath Plan: I recommend to keep the water temps between 50 & 60 degrees F, wear socks on your feet during the treatment, maintain leg motion during the bath and maximize the length of bath to 10 minutes.

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