A running program should consist of hard running mixed in with easy days. This will help you to keep running for a long and will keep your running fresh. Hard running days could be longer runs or speed work. And, what you do immediately after these hard days will determine how you recover. Here are some tips on how to cool down after harder workout days.
One of the most important things that you want to do when you finish up a hard workout is to replenish the fluids that you've lost. Depending on the length of the run that I've just completed and the weather conditions, I'll either grab a bottle of water or a sports drink. And, sometimes, I may just have both. If it is extremely hot out - you really want to drink a sports drink to replace the electrolytes that you've lost while sweating during your run.
I'll take my bottle of water with me and head back out the door. I will go for a walk for about a quarter of a mile or so. This helps me to cool down and helps with muscle recovery. You don't want to finish up a hard workout and immediately sit down. This is not good for you and will cause you to stiffen up - and will cause your run the next day to not go as well. I will drink my bottle of water during this walk - so I'm accomplishing two important recovery things at one time.
When I get back from my walk, then I will do a little stretching. I don't like to do anything too strenuous. Some light stretching also helps with muscle recovery. Another thing that I will do - especially after a longer run - is a self-massage of my legs. I have a marathon stick - and I love it and highly recommend it for all runners of all levels. All you do is run it a few times over your different leg muscle groups. It works wonderfully - and feels great!
This is what I do after I do a longer run or a speed workout. It just takes a little bit of time to do these things - but they really do work. This can help you to stay out on the roads and keep running for life. These little tricks have worked for me for over 30 years - and I'm sure they will help you.
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