Running is one of the best things you can do for your body. It’s an exercise that practically anyone can do, anywhere, anytime. However, it needs to be accompanied with proper sleep and nutrition, otherwise, you can run into problems like sore muscles and injuries.
How to Recover from Running with Sleep and Nutrition
If you’ve just started your running journey and want to learn how to recover more quickly, here are some sleep and nutrition tips that can help you.
1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep
Sleeping is essential in muscle recovery but beyond that, the right amount allows you to get into a deep sleep state where your body releases growth hormones. These are hormones that can stimulate fat burning, muscle growth, and bone building. Try to get at least 7 hours of shut-eye every night so you can get the full benefits.
2. Increase sleep time based on intensity
If you’re going on intense runs everyday, you will need longer sleep hours. Even elite athletes do this. They are known to sleep for 10-12 hours every night, and even nap throughout the day.
Since you’re new, you might find yourself falling asleep easier. This is actually good. Just make sure you are neither getting too little or too much. If you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, you can make up for it with a nap the next day. You will find that getting enough sleep will drastically improve your performance
3. Keep sleep consistent
Your sleep schedule should be just as consistent as your exercise. That means going to bed at the same time every night and sleeping for the same amount of hours. If you plan to change your running intensity, do it gradually. This way, your sleep schedule can also adjust. You might find it hard to stick to your sleep schedule if you change things up too quickly. In order to have quality sleep after running, you should invest in a good mattress like these from unclutterer.
4. Load up on good complex carbs
Carbs are the primary fuel source for running which makes them an important recovery food. They are consumed by runners before a workout but they are more important to consume after a run since that’s when the body needs it the most. Here are some great carbs for recovery:
Oatmeal raisin cookies
Nuts and seeds
Greens or green powder
5. Don’t forget protein
Next to carbs, you also need to refuel with protein. This is key to building and repairing those microtears in your muscles. Lean beef, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, and lentils are some great sources of protein. You can also use protein powder instead since it’s a no-brainer way to get your protein.
6. Stay hydrated
You should also refuel with liquids during your run. Drink water or an energy drink along with your snack. You can also drink chocolate milk or milkshake. These will help replace the fluids your body just lost during your run.
7. Timing is important
You want to eat within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your run. This is because your muscles have just been ripped apart and blood flow in them is high making them more receptive to nutrients. Planning ahead is key here. Prepare your snack before you go out so that it’s ready to consume after your run. Your body will thank you.
8. Tailor it to fit you
Just because you ran on the elliptical for 30 minutes, doesn’t mean you can feast on all the carbs and protein. Amount still matters. If it was a quick run, a small snack is going to do. But if it was intense, you may need to supplement with heavier snacks that include meat. Some people also find it hard to consume solids after a run so they may opt to consume liquids instead like a smoothie or a protein shake. Customize your nutrition to fit your needs.