Seeing how fast I can recover after hard workouts, both physically and spiritually, has become something I actually look forward to each day. With an increase in weekly miles, as well as a goal of running six days in the week, longer long runs, and usual speed workouts, I need to recover as quickly as possible, utilizing my time and energy in the right areas.
I must also say that I am not a doctor or physical therapist; these tips are things that have helped me and are meant to be used for educational purposes only, do not take my word over those who are in charge of your well-being.
With that being said, everyone is different so some of these may not work for you as well as they do for me. However, I would think that because they are generalized, you may be able to take ideas from this and tweak them for your own personal use, by listening to your body.
Tip #1: Relax
The Bible talks about rest so much that when I first saw the numbers, it surprised me. Relaxation is the worldly term for God’s definition of rest. The world talks about rest as if you only do that when you’re sleeping or after you’re dead.
Nowadays, Yoga and Pilates is the hot thing for people to relax. They encourage you to empty your mind and breathe. However, God tells us to FILL our mind with scripture and to pray without ceasing, not empty it.
Stress puts our body in a fight or flight mode, which inhibits healing, so casting our cares upon God is the best way to relieve stress according to Philippians 4:6-7, because stress and anxiety is the opposite of peace.
I can’t recall where I read this, but I heard of a study that was done to show that thinking on one individual subject with total concentration is actually more beneficial in calming our minds than if we were to try and empty our mind. Maybe that is one of the reasons why God encourages us to meditate on scripture.
Isaiah 26: 3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” With perfect peace we are able to function optimally.
Here are a few of my favorite scriptures on rest:
Psalms 37:7 – Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:
Matthew 11:28-30 – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Psalms 127:2 – It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Hebrews 4:9-11 – There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Tip #2: Pray
Prayer is one of my biggest steps in recovery, along with rest. I am not naturally good at running, therefore I need God’s strength and grace throughout the entire way – training, racing, and recovery. God longs to have conversations with us, so we can involve Him in our recovery by praying about what we could have done better, what’s next, and what we are feeling about the race (or hard workout). He is always listening and He will be there to give you wisdom, direction, and comfort as you ask.
Tip #3: Active Recovery
Active recovery has been my go to in recovery because it gets circulation going to the exact locations that need repaired. This may be just walking (combined with prayer is the best), or it could be biking, light strength training, stretching, foam rolling, or even a light short jog. The worst thing you can do during recovery is to sit all day. This will do you more harm than good. You want to keep your blood flowing and get the lactic acid buildup dissolved as soon as possible to promote a faster recovery.
If you are recovering from a spiritual workout, active recovery can still be very beneficial for you. A lot of folks say walking or running really helps them to get away for a while and see things from a different perspective. Going on a prayer walk is amazing for me!
Tip #4: Find Someone You Can Talk To or Journal
If you are an introvert, this may not be the best option for you, so think more on the lines of prayer journaling instead. But as an extrovert, having someone that I can share my success and difficulties with has been super beneficial for me. There is something about telling someone what I am feeling and thinking that makes me realize things I never would have noticed otherwise.
Tip #5: Hydration
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate, especially if you got dehydrated! Good hydration promotes a healthy function of the body. God created our bodies to heal themselves and water is a huge factor in getting the job done. Consider looking into how you can replace electrolytes as well. Our bodies are electrical and without the necessary electrolytes, it cannot function properly. I crave molasses water with a splash of magnesium water and a few pinches of salt because that is what I have trained with, so for me, it seems to kick-start rehydrating my body after a workout.
Just remember, as you rehydrate your body, that Jesus is the living water. Anyone who thirsts in their soul, is looking for something which can be found only in Christ, so look to Him and use this time of recovery as a way to spend some extra time seeking Him.
John 4:13-14 – Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Tip #6: Nutrition
Your body needs nutrition for energy. The word of God is great nutrition for healing spiritually, mentally, and physically, so be sure to dig into His Word.
We all know that our body needs nutrition, so eating as many CLEAN calories (and I emphasize clean for a reason), as your body desires in order to replace anything that was stripped from your body is great for recovery. Just don’t overeat to cause bloat or slow digestion, as your body will be focusing then on digestion rather than healing. Eating about six small meals, including protein, fat, and veggies, each day, is optimal.
Tip #7: Anti-Inflammatories
Too much inflammation inhibits healing. Think of it like a band-aid to protect your body from getting injured any more than it already has been. Some inflammation is a natural and necessary part of healing, so doing natural things such as active recovery helps greatly in lowering inflammation to the point where you can let your body do the rest. Proper hydration and replacing the nutrition that got stripped from your body during the stress of your workout will also help keep the inflammation in an acceptable range.
There are some essential oils you can use topically, as well as some herbs you can add to your diet, so if that interests you, do some research on that. I have a roll-on with anti-inflammatory oils that I use for topical use and recently have been adding turmeric to my diet on a regular basis, but there are plenty of other options.
If you do already use these recovery tips, I would advise you to really dial them in and use them to your full advantage, try some new variations, not around race day, and see if anything works better for you. If you haven’t used some of these, I pray you will find some success in implementing them.
As always, I love you and pray you have a blessed week! Happy Running!