Five (Other) Things You Should Do After Every Run
By: Danielle Hardy
Runners know they need to stretch, refuel, and rehydrate after every run — those are givens and should be a priority for every post-run routine. But just like you up your training by adding on miles or hill runs, add to your post-run routine with a few extra items, too. Journaling, self-care practices and steps to keep your gear in top shape, are all additions that will keep you mentally and physically prepped so you'll be ready for your next run.
These extra steps in your post-workout routine shouldn't be additional stressors for your to-do list. Instead, find a few that work for you, says Elizabeth Carey, a running coach since 2003. "Don't try to do it all every day, let alone every day you run," she says. "Try one to two extra things and see how it goes. If it's causing stress, skip it and try something new."
"Try one to two extra things and see how it goes. If it's causing stress, skip it and try something new."
Carey and other experts shared some post-workout secrets to amp up your daily run routine. Read on to learn how these simple running tips and tricks can bring your running routine to the next level.
Jot down notes
"My notes always include nutrition, sleep, stress levels, and any other noteworthy things," says Anna Aiken, a certified personal trainer and the head coach of A Squared Fitness in Denver. Jotting down a few details after every run makes it easier for you to start seeing patterns over longer periods of time, like how a continued lack of sleep or stress is causing your regular runs to feel more strenuous.
Aiken also adds in random highlights from her run to her journal entires: The tulips were blooming, I ran into my friend on the bike path, I heard my favorite song.
"When we take the small wins from runs into consideration, it is much easier to feel like each run or workout has high points," she says. "These high points feel good and lead to the desire to find more on the next run."
Amanda Brooks, a certified personal trainer and running coach who founded the blog RunToTheFinish, also recommends journaling. Her entries often focus more on what she thought about during the run, like any to-do items for the day. She also writes down any spontaneous mantras or slogans she thinks up on the run, like one of her favorites, "stronger and stronger with every mile." Writing them down helps her remember and reuse them later.
There are a variety of ways to take care of yourself including meditation, yoga,massages, chilling out in front of the tv, or even napping. Staying consistent with whatever type of self-care you enjoy is key. Because running is not just a physical workout, but a mental game too, Carey recommends adding in a mindfulness practice with meditation to improve mental strength.
"It can be hard for some runners to sit still," she says, "but after a run is prime-time for some athletes to practice meditation or body scans because they will be a little tired and blissed out."
But the most important post-run routine is rest and recovery, Carey says. She is a big proponent of prioritizing sleep, whether it's at night or with designated naps during the day. A Stanford sleep study found that good sleep is likely critical for top athletic performance. Results showed that basketball players who increased their overall weekly sleep improved their shot accuracy and sprint times.
"My first thought post-run is usually how quickly can I wash off the sweat," says Brooks, in order to keep her skin clear.
Use whatever face wash works for you, but clean up soon after your run is done to clear out clogged pores. If you are heading into work or somewhere else and don't have time for a full shower, opt for disposable face wipes and full body cleansing wipes to freshen up.
While wipes work for your face and body, sweaty hair is another issue, which is where dry shampoo comes in. Dry shampoo is an easy way to freshen up your locks without hopping in the shower. While the alcohol or starch in the powder or spray soaks up any excess oil and sweat, your hair isn't actually cleaner. It will, however, appear drier and fresher for the day.
Wash your gear
Aa part of your post-workout routine, Aiken recommends soaking your performance fabrics in a sink full of water, plus 1 cup vinegar, then washing and drying as you would normally. The vinegar helps eliminate odor and can act as a natural softener. But nix the dryer sheets and fabric softeners as these can clog the pores of gear meant to wick moisture. Better yet is to line dry your gear whenever possible. If you have to machine dry, or prefer it, use a low-heat setting to avoid breaking down the synthetic fibers, which will reduce the elasticity and tightness of running leggings.
With your shoes, pull out the insole liners so that they can fully dry. If they are smelly, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of baking soda inside to help absorb the odor.
Adding in just one or two of these post-run ideas should be pretty doable, especially for established runners.
"Creating habits is easier for runners because we often do it already to get ourselves in a routine of running," says Brooks, "which means the goal is to piggyback on what we're already doing so well."
Take a beat after your run to write in your journal, splash some water and cleanser on your face, and spend a few minutes meditating. These easy additions will provide lasting benefits to all aspects of your training.