Michael Wardian: Important Recovery Tips
Traveling and racing as much as I do all around the world and having a lot of outside obligations besides running, I get asked frequently about how I fit it all in and recover. So, I put together a few of the things I like to try and do to enhance my recovery between events:
This sounds counter intuitive but I think one of the best things to do after an event is keep active. Swim, walk, hike, try not to sit down, and if you have to travel, like I often do, try to book an aisle seat so you can get up and move around. I even try to get up and stretch during the flights or train rides and just watch if you notice the people around you, they will get into it too and pretty soon you will have like 10 people all doing toe touches, squats, down dog.
I know this is something that most people do but make sure you keep on top of your fluids and after a race it is hard to keep forcing liquids. If I can try to keep a steady flow of fluids, it tends to help me flush my system. I love fresh juices if I can get them, and when I get home to Washington, DC, I go straight to my friends at JRINK.
This is another recover tip that seems obvious but after a race I tend to find myself having a lot of trouble eating. I just want to be still sometimes and chill and not be forcing food in my mouth, but getting in food is key to starting the recovery process.
Don't settle though, that is one of my biggest tips and a mistake I used to make all the time. Get what your body is craving, not what you first see unless it is what you have been dreaming about for miles and miles.
For example, I love fresh fruit and salads after races, nothing fancy just a super fresh salads and ripe flavorful fruits, but other times I want a veggie burger and fries or something greasy. Your body knows what it wants and try to give your body a reward for all the hard work, it will thank you, believe me.
Check in with your loved ones
I think that touching base with the people and animals that support you gets me and my body fired up to start the healing process. I think my body knows that I want to be ready to play, dance, read, engage and converse with them and that forces me and my body to start recovering. I know I need to be ready because when I get home the boys and Rosie, our Vizsla puppy, are not going to care that I just ran 100 Miles. They are going to want to play games or wrestle or talk about something and I will need to be ready and think. That helps my body know that yeah, we did a big effort, but you better heal quick because you are going to be called on soon.
Shower and/or Soak
Everyone probably showers after a race but I mean to really shower and/or soak, take an extra long one if you can and really enjoy it. While you are in the shower, stretch out your legs, once you warm up, find all the sore spots and work them out and then remember that feeling for next time a race gets tough and use it to keep you going when things get tough. If you can find a river that's great too, the flowing water really helps to keep the blood flowing and loosen everything up. I even find swimming can work really well, it is low/no impact and allows the body to move without additional pounding.
If you can find a massage as soon as possible, I think this really helps me to get all the bad stuff moving. If you don't have the ability to have a person work on you, you can work on yourself. Something like The Stick, to roll out your tender parts and legs works really well. The Stick provides relief for muscle pain and soreness, improves muscle strength, increases endurance and accelerates recovery time. It’s used by a plethora of people from professional sports teams, olympic athletes, weekend warriors, medical professionals, etc. Rollers are really good to help your recovery process.
I know that is something a lot of people do but I am a believer in compression. I use a brand called Compressport and it seems to help me feel snug and cozy. I find that helps me with recovery after events but I've also been using compression during events. I feel like compression supports my muscles and that is a major benefit as the races get more challenging and difficult and your out there for hours and hours.
Take your mind off things
This is going to sound strange but I like to work after a race. I find that working gets my head straight and puts everything in perspective. I also find I'm really productive and excited about whatever's going on.
That being said, for you, it might be reading a book or listening to music or grabbing a beer with friends, whatever it is you do to relax, try to engage in that activity for a few minutes. I find it grounds me and gets me focused and that helps my body start the recovery process.
I also love foosball and chess, so if I can get a game in either or both of those I am a very happy guy.
I am not the best at sleeping but the body needs to sleep to recover. If you are not great at sleeping, like me, try to do the best with what you get. I really try to get as much sleep as possible but normally that is not a lot, so don't worry about that too much, just take what your body gives you and really try to maximize the time you are getting by sleeping soundly. If that means an eye mask, go for it. Or special sheets, yeah, they make them and they are kind cool. Enjoy the time you get as it will expedite the healing process.
As most of you know, I am pretty engaged in social media and I think that sharing our journeys with people can help with the recovery process. Having a lot of interaction with your community gets you excited about returning to training and racing and forces you to do all the right things to allow you to be back out there with other like minded people.
Michael Wardian is a father, maintains a full-time job and races at an elite level around the world. You can find him running in the Stunt, Cortina and Aero sunglasses to name a few. You can connect with him on Instagram and Facebook.