The workout most athletes don’t enjoy…….

Wait…..recovery is a workout?  Abso-freakin-loutly!
Coach Brian and I were talking at practice Monday on how sometimes is seems when we cut the run short, and focus more on the extras……people don’t seem to be so enthused.  Athletes are so concerned about how many miles per week they can get in, or how hard the workout is so they feel like they have accomplished something and are gaining fitness.  Believe me, those are very important aspects to training, but so is taking the time to make sure your body recovers.
Recovery is not just taking the day off.  Doing no activity actually prolongs recovery and leaves you sluggish the next day.  You may have heard of the term ACTIVE RECOVERY.  ACTIVE RECOVERY is very low intensity work while still being active (IN MOTION).  I can tell you the days that I don’t stretch or take my dogs on the bike, I feel worse the next day.  On days off, put time aside, just as if you were supposed to go run, bike, or swim, and simply focus on stretching, rolling, ice bath, some yoga moves, etc.  THIS IS A WORKOUT.  I challenge you to dynamic and static stretch and foam roll for 45 minutes.  It is a challenge!  But the payoffs are so key to your training.  We all know that not resting enough can also lead to overtraining or burnout.  Remember that when planning your year, the best medicine is a nice 2 weeks mid-season break.  Plan your races so you peak 2x per year followed by a 10 to 14 day break period.  This helps avoid plateauing and overuse injuries
DYNAMIC STRETCHING (BEFORE):  Dynamic means in motion.  These exercises help get your body prepared for physical activity.  They are like warming up a car engine in the winter time, before you expect heat to come out of the vents, the engine needs to warm up.  Same with your body, if you want you muscles to perform in their full range of motion without injury, then Dynamics are key to pre-workout.
Static Stretching(AFTER): The major benefit is a concentrated focus on increasing flexibility and range of motion in the joints. This can also be achieved with dynamic stretching, but not to the same degree and potential. As far as flexibility goes, dynamic stretching is like a utility knife, whereas static stretching is a surgical blade: the static stretches are just more specialized for increasing flexibility.
So the question is ‘when do you perform static stretching?’ The best times are just after your workout, when you’re all warmed up and ready to relax, or any time when you’re not going to exercise.
I encourage you to incorporate this type of stretch into your routine. Flexible and limber muscles are less prone to injury and improve athletic performance.
FOAM ROLLING: This takes effort, but the payoffs are priceless.  ATHLETES: ENDURANCE ACTIVITY TIGHTENS AND BREAKS DOWN MUSCLE.  To keep it healthy and get the knots out, you need to get massages and foam roll.  That is all there is to it.  If you ignore this, you will get tight muscles and eventually tendonitis and other issues will arise.

ICE BATHS: We have a killer ice bath right in Wilmington at Accent PT.  Ice baths flush the legs and reduce inflammation.  EVERY RUNNER SHOULD ICE BATH.  The best days to ice would be on your recovery days. Icing can be considered your final interval on your recovery workouts.  Why not ice right after workouts?  It is good for the body to recognize damage from workouts and inflammation.  I would say about 8 to 36 hours after a workout is a great time to ice bath.
SLEEP:  Of course – we all know a great night of sleep is key to feeling good.  Make an effort to stay on a good cycle of sleep.  Going to bed at the same hour each night.  Even a 20 minute power nap during the day can do wonders.  Sleep is so important!  Sleep is NOT overrated.  Sleep is the essence of stress free, body rejuvenation.

Good Luck!
Tom Clifford