Dear Team Chaski,
I'm constantly waking up feeling like I'm 100 years old and having trouble feeling fresh for my harder workout days each week. What can I do?
Waking up sore comes with the territory. After a big long run, we often wake up with constantly throbbing in the quads keeping us up much of the night. While it’s definitely uncomfortable, you become almost accustomed to the sensation.
Over the years, we've learned to not only complete the assigned runs and workouts but also focus on all the little things one needs to do to stay healthy.
Here are a few of the things that have helped keep us healthy over the years.
Getting Ready to Run
As the mileage accumulates over the years, you notice the importance of priming the body for any sort of morning exertion. Try setting aside a few additional minutes at the beginning of the morning to allow your body to wake up at its own pace — a lot of us drink a cup of coffee and spend some time on the feet to loosen up. Before a harder session, experiment with some easy jogging to begin, instead of jumping right into the workout itself.
If there is a particular part of the body that feels tight or sore, it's definitely good give the area a bit of extra TLC. For instance, if an ankle feels tight, start with some ankle rolls and circles to help prepare that part of the body for the upcoming effort.
Before a harder workout session, we'll do a very long series of dynamic movements. This routine includes roughly 50 meters of many different movements — from skipping, to bounding, to high knees, and arm movements, etc. we make sure that every part of the body is loose and ready to go! Note that these dynamic exercises are performed after a period of easy running.
Once we have sufficiently warmed up, the actual running begins! We recommend always gently easing into your running pace, whether that be a workout or an easy run. Over the years, we have been fortunate to observe several running cultures around the globe, and the idea of gradually increasing the pace has stuck with us, as almost all runners practice this methodology to some extent (some more extreme than others).
For example, Ethiopians start their runs at almost walking pace, but towards the end of their runs, they’re almost flying! The concept of “average run pace” is a very American idea, and as a result, many runners begin their runs too quickly. Easing into the run creates less of a shock for the body, and helps the body maintain a sense of homeostasis.
After the run – the fun isn’t done yet!
As soon as we finish our run, we grab a bottle of sports drink to begin the rehydration process. In the summertime, especially, you should easily be able to down 500 to 750mL of liquids immediately after running. We use nuun or other sports drinks with salts because it's important to replace the many electrolytes that are frequently lost through sweat, and it tastes great!
Once hydrated, we often begin a fifteen-minute stretching routine called Ethio, which was learned from the Ethiopians. Stay tuned for an upcoming video! Following Ethio, we perform one of several different strengthening routines. We have developed six different routines that focus on different muscle groups pertinent to running: core, hips, back, feet, legs, and upper body. Our belief is by exerting running-specific muscles in a variety of ways, one is less likely to suffer an overuse injury caused by the constant running motion.
Lastly, many runners use a hard-rubber roller to essentially self-massage their legs. Rolling increases blood flow to the area, thus expediting the recovery process. You can check out this article on Runner’s World for some basic foam rolling moves.
To refuel, the general wisdom is to eat something within fifteen to thirty minutes of finishing your run. This post-run snack has a good mix of carbohydrate (to replenish depleted glycogen stores), protein (to speed muscle recovery), and fat (for essential fatty acids and to foster the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients). A peanut butter and banana sandwich is a great example of a food that meets the above criteria. To learn more about fueling, check out our series on Training and Race Nutrition (start here).
As boring as it sounds, the most important aspect of the day (other than running) is resting. During periods of super high mileage or big increases in training/intensity, runners can sleep more than ten hours a night, and also take a nap during the day. We nap pretty much every afternoon, even if there's only time to take a short fifteen-minute catnap. While you sleep, your body repairs itself much more efficiently than it does while awake. In essence, you are impairing the recovery process while forcing the body to function on less than optimal amounts of sleep.
Ice baths have been found to aid recovery, and relieve some of the discomfort and soreness after very hard sessions. Ice baths reduce inflammation, so they can be beneficial after travel days as well. However, the science knowledge surrounding ice baths is mixed, so it’s more of a personal preference.
Although regular massages are often out of the realm of possibility for most casual runners, they are an essential piece of the puzzle for professional runners. Working with a massage therapist or a PT who knows what they are doing can do wonders to aid in recovery and injury prevention.
Ask around for local recs in your running community! (Ty has worked closely with Terrell Hale at Georgetown Sports Massage (Washington, D.C) and Sam Peck at Soarbody Therapeutics (Greater Boston, MA), and noticed a definite improvement in biomechanics following an intense effort.)
Probably the most intriguing piece of the personal athletic puzzle is the consistent routine one abides by daily. In Again to Carthage, the sequel to the beloved Once a Runner, Coach Bruce Denton tells the protagonist, Quentin Cassidy to “live like a clock”. In this quote, he advises the athlete to adhere to a daily routine long enough to become an unconscious habit.
Living like a cat means more than lying on the floor and stretching in the sunshine.
We'd like to modify the quotation to “live like a cat”. Our resident Chaski cat, Richard Parker (a native of Peru and Ty's long-time life-partner), is extremely routine-based: he does the same things at the same times of the day, spends a lot of time sleeping or resting, and a small amount of his day in states of extreme activity.
Developing — and sticking to — a routine helps you to stay on top of things. Instead of spending time thinking about whether or not you are going to do something, you just do it. Speaking of routine, it’s time for us to head out for our afternoon run!
What aspects of your personal routine help to aid in your running recovery? Let us know in the comments!
If you have any questions for the Chaski Team, leave a comment below, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or a message on social media!