Marathon training means one thing (other than a whole lot of running) – a lot of recovery! Rather than just stretching after a challenging (or not so challenging) run, there are many more things you can do to help your body recover faster. Here are my favorite tools and tricks to keep me healthy and strong throughout an 18 week marathon training program!
I’m sure you have all heard of this little gem before. Their website’s tagline is “A Toothbrush for Muscles” and it couldn’t be more true. It comes in all different sizes, from small to large, as well as different feels – from flexible to firm. I honestly do now know what I would do without this tool. They range in price from around $30 to closer to $50. However, they are at about every race expo there is, and usually carry a discount while they are there. Pick one up at your next race!
2. A Foam Roller
Foam rollers are very affordable, and you can really target just about any muscle group. Using your body weight to get the correct amount of pressure ensures that you are not pushing too hard (or not hard enough). The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. (Source). It’s almost like getting a quick massage. Almost, not quite. It makes a huge difference for people dealing with IT band issues. I prefer to use it for my super tight hamstrings and glutes. You can find them at just about any sporting goods store, as well as online –> your best bet!
3. A frozen water bottle
Before I found the perfect pair of shoes for me (love my Brooks Glycerins), I was constantly plagued by plantar fasciitis. For those of you that have not had any issues with PF, lucky you! It is extremely painful and is one of the worst injuries I had to deal with. If for some reason you starting having issues with your plantar fascia in the future, here is a little trick I learned. Freeze a water bottle, and then lay it on the floor, horizontally. Roll it on the bottom of your foot, from front to back, and back to front again, over and over. Give more pressure on the part of your foot that is the most sore. I did this many times, and it really helps to take the edge off the pain. You can do this while watching tv, or even sitting at your desk at work. I’m a big fan.
4. A Tennis Ball
Remember those tight glutes I was talking about before – a tennis ball is another great remedy for that. Put the ball on the floor and sit on it, balancing on one of your cheeks. You can get into your muscles incredibly deep this way. Remember, its supposed to hurt-so-good, not leave you in a shrieking pain. If the tennis ball is too much for you, stick to the foam roller. You can also use a golf ball for this as well , or a baseball or softball. The possibilities are endless.
5. Ice, Ice, Baby
Ice is definitely the best thing for muscles when you are sore are trying to recover quickly. A lot of people take ice baths (I am one of them!), but if submerging yourself in an icy mess is not your cup of tea, ice packs work wonders as well. Ice your calves, hammies, or anything else feeling a bit more tender than usual. It could make a big difference in the outcome of your run the next day!
I saved the best for last. If you are truly that sore, and you do not think a run will help you loosen up, then take a day off of running! You know your body better than anyone, so listen to it. If you need a little down time, take it! There is no harm in taking care of yourself.
These are my favorite go to’s to help me recover. Do you have to add to the list?