Recovery methods for runners

Recovery methods for runners should always be a main priority. It’s neglected. However, it has drastic influences on performance. Correct rest results in a reduced risk of injury, reduced fatigue and increased training adaptations. 

Poor recovery can result in injuries and fatigue, which is not optimum for performance. Consistent training is less likely as a result.


The optimum amount of sleep is around 8-9 hours a day. Most runners seem to follow this rule and may also have naps in the day. 

Chronic sleep loss leads to a 30-40% reduction in glucose metabolism, also it significantly reduces the amount of time it takes athletes to reach a point of exhaustion in training and races. Physical strength, as well as speed, also decreases after repeated days of inadequate sleep.

Whilst sleeping, your body releases hormones which can relax your muscles. This aids healing and reduces inflammation. Recovery takes work and you need energy to work. During sleep, demand for calories reduces. Therefore the body is able to replenish and be ready for action when you awake. Interestingly, when sleeping, the level of hormones that make you feel hungry or full, fluctuates. After insufficient sleep, your hunger hormone levels known as ghrelin go up. Full hormones known as leptin go down. So poor sleep patterns can lead to overeating.

photo of person holding alarm clock


Ice bath

Ice baths constrict blood vessels and flush out waste products such as lactic acid. They reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. After the Ice bath you should transition into a hot bath or shower (not instantly but within a few minutes), this is to increase circulation again, which accelerates the healing process.

Research suggests that icing muscles immediately after maximal exercise can suppress inflammation, hinder muscle fiber growth, and delay muscle regeneration. Therefore, it would be optimal to use ice baths as a form of recovery in between competitions or the night before a tough session.

bathroom bathtub ceramic chrome

Muscle gun

Massage guns offer percussive or vibration therapy. This type of massage provides rapid bursts of pressure into the body’s muscle tissue (hence the rippling effect of massage guns) as its head oscillates back and forth.

Massage guns can hyper-target a specific problem area. Foam rollers can be uncomfortable or a taxing process, massage guns offer a more streamlined, automatic solution.

Percussive therapy doesn’t completely eliminate muscle soreness. But what it does do is increase blood flow to a specific muscle area, which can help reduce inflammation and muscle tension and break up knots that seem to linger after a hard workout. Massage guns helpful before workouts to warm up the muscles.

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The official name for legs-up-a-wall is viparita karani, which literally means “inverted in action” in Sanskrit. The pose helps reverse the typical actions that happen in our lower bodies as we sit and stand all day. And it’s especially useful right after exericse.

It’s best to do after a workout (within 30 minutes), due to dilated veins increasing circulation. In essence, this inverted pose aids your overall recovery by draining fluids that are pooling in your legs, while also stretching your hamstrings and relieving a worn out lower body.

Lie down on your back and try to get your butt as close to the wall as possible, extending your legs up, perpendicular to the floor. Open your arms to the sides, palms up. Flex your feet for an added hamstring stretch. If that’s too uncomfortable, LaLonde says you can scoot away a bit so your legs are at an easier angle.

(Runners World)


  • Protein/Carbohydrate drink – From personal experience the best recovery drink is from the brand 226ers. It’s powder, based on proteins, carbohydrates, creatine, plant, medium chain triglycerides and L-Arginine. With Sweetener. I find it best when taking within 15 minutes of a session, or throughout the day on a rest day. 226ers is a great option as it’s a company dedicated to endurance sport and the supplements are designed for endurance athletes rather than the usual gym target market. 
  • Beetroot juice – Beetroot juice is high in nitric oxide and without getting into detail nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax and therefore widen. This is beneficial for athletic performance as a wider blood vessel means more blood can be transported each heart beat and therefore more oxygen can reach the muscles through the blood. Since more blood can be transported each beat, it allows for more oxygen to be transported to the muscles after exercise, which results in faster recovery.

Recovery is an important aspect of training, which can provide a big difference between the elite and sub-elite. Conduct your own research and find which recovery methods work best for you. So you can optimise your performance. 

Recovery methods for runners can vary depending on how each runner adapts. Because of this there is no one solution fits all when it comes too recovery methods for runners and you should conduct research and experiment, until the find your optimum.

Click here to read our Ingebrigtsen training article