Many runners spend the last few miles of training runs and races thinking about one thing…the end! Consequently, the cool-down is the most overlooked aspect of running.
A thorough cool-down is as important as a gradual warm-up. It’s important to allow your body to gradually return to normal levels of recovery. Shifting the focus in the closing miles of a run or a race to a proper cool-down will yield signficant benefits. The most effective cool-down should include at least a mile of running at less than 70% effort of your hardest miles, followed immediately by a thorough routine of dynamic or static stretching, rolling my muscles out thoroughly with the Roll Recovery R8 and a well-thought out recovery meal. My best runs include a good warm-up and cool down on my spinning bike accompanied by 10-15 minutes of yoga.
In terms of recovery liquids and food, I like to replace sodium quickly and pickle juice is a great choice. I know that doesn’t sound any more appealing than an ice bath but the truth can be painful! Chocolate soy milk or chocolate flavored coconut water also have the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein and has always been my top choices as a recovery drink. Almond butter is always a great option; either on a bagel, an almond butter and jelly sandwich or in a Bananarama (i.e., yogurt, bananas, protein powder, ice and almond butter). Whole wheat salted pretzels are another good choice.
Giving more thought to your cool-down will provide tremendous benefits to your running. You’ll be more flexible, less likely to become injured and better prepared for subsequent runs.
It’s also a great time to reflect on how fortunate you are to be a runner!