The Running Bug Wed, Aug 3 2011 Likes0 1 Comment Facebook Twitter Five Reasons to Take Recovery Seriously Once you've started running the last thing you want is an injury holding you back. From amateurs to Olympic athletes, injury can be a mental as well as physical handicap and prevention is always better than cure. As well as making sure you choose the right running shoe, the best thing you can do to avoid injury is to listen to your body and push it without breaking it. To do that, you need to take recovery seriously. Recovery is important not only because it ensures you get the maximum benefit from your exercise as your muscles rebuild, but it will also help ensure that you have the best chance of avoiding injury. Sage Rountree, author of "The Athlete's Guide to Recovery", tells us the basics of recovery. 1. Why Recovery MattersIt's during recovery that you grow stronger. Your workouts wear you down; recovery is where you build yourself back up to better than you were before. Without recovery, you'll be digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole that is tough to climb out of. When you are properly recovered, you'll perform to your best potential. 2. How to Tell if you're OvertrainingIf you're new to running then you should be aiming to run about three times a week for roughly twenty minutes, but bear in mind that everyone is different and you might be able to manage a little more or less than this. Whatever you do, make sure you are not running on empty. "True overtraining is a serious medical condition and doesn't happen too often," says Sage. "Instead, most endurance athletes face the problem of under recovery. It's characterized by a decline in performance, often accompanied by trouble sleeping, moodiness, a change in appetite, and a lack of enthusiasm for training."3. How to Avoid OvertrainingThis isn't about making excuses for sitting on the couch; the key to avoiding under recovery is to focus on recovery! Happily, this means partaking in such pleasurable activities as sleeping well, getting massages, and eating a healthy diet. More difficultly, it also means having faith that days off serve you, and dialing back the intensity of your workouts periodically so your body can catch up with the overload you've placed on it. Check out beginner's training plans to see what combinations of rest and activity are advisable.4. Best Recovery TechniquesThe single best technique for recovery is to sleep more. Probably much more than you currently do, to the tune of nine or more hours a night. Support that with a good diet and a sensible training progression. Recovery starts at the end of the workout with some light activity, stretching, a snack if you went long and a good meal soon thereafter. The book contains some timelines for proper recovery after a workout or race. Everything else, from ice baths to compression socks, will be extra, bonus points toward your recovery. 5. Nutrition and Hydration BasicsThe key to nutrition is eating a variety of plant-based foods, ideally organic, in season, and local. Eating seasonally will give you access to a full range of vitamins and minerals. Protein is also important, as it supplies the fuel for your muscles' rebuilding. Drink to your thirst, so that your urine is very light yellow. This will ensure you stay hydrated. Dehydration will impair both your performance and your recovery. All the above topics and more are covered in depth in 'The Athlete's Guide to Recovery' by Sage Rountree. Sage is a certified coach with USA Triathlon and the Road Runners Club of America as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance. To purchase a copy of the book visit Amazon or Cordee online. More from The Running Bug Recovering from Hard Runs Running Injury Advice What to do in the First Crucial Hours of an Injury Taking the Pain out of Running How to refuel and recover from hard runs. Avoid running injuries by following our advice on how to prepare your body for running. The first 72 hours after injury are the key to making a quick recovery. Here’s what to do. Running injuries are no fun – here are some essential tips on how to avoid them. New to the Running Bug? We're the online community for runners with over 65,000 members! Join today - it's free and easy - and you'll get access to all our running events, training schedules and advice, groups, blogs and forums. JOIN THE RUNNING BUG HERE! It's free and takes just 30 seconds.