10 Minutes to Better Recovery

imageWe can all breathe a sigh of relief that we have finally found the other side of winter, which means it’s peak training time for upcoming spring and early summer races. As our miles increase and the workouts become more specific, it becomes increasingly important that we keep up with those little extra recovery things we do, like core work and foam rolling, so it all comes together on race day.

Yes, those little extra recovery things that we need to do reach our goals. The baddish news is that spring tends to be a busier time for all of us as we all come out from hibernation and feel more human again. Cue marathon-training GUILT when, late in a marathon training cycle, we start feeling guilty for devoting so much time and energy to our running. The busy-ness of spring and marathon guilt are the perfect excuses to start skimping on all those little extra things … just as we need them the most! 

But recovery doesn’t need to add to your guilt or keep you from the other things you want to do. In fact, you can cram in enough recovery in only 10 minutes a day to be good to go.

That’s right! Just 10 minutes is all you need to recover well and take your training to the next level!

Although recovery is one of the most important parts of training, it is also one of the things most of us are least likely to prioritize. Sleeping enough, refueling after workouts, stretching, foam rolling, or even taking time to breathe and mentally decompress are all components of recovery that we should take time to do. When we have a long list of shoulds like this it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not bother doing any of them. However, if we limit recovery time to a measly 10 minutes a day, surely we can muster that little slice of our day to devote to this essential element of our training. 

Here’s how even the busiest of us can squeeze in recovery into our days:

Set a Timer

My first and probably most simple tip: set your timer and commit to focusing on recovery until the bell rings at 10 minutes. Pull out the yoga mat, foam roller, exercise ball, whatever. Stretch, roll around, and work out any kinks that you may have been feeling. Meditate. Take an ice bath. Whatever helps you recover, do it

Make it a Habit

One 10 minute session a week isn’t going to help you very much, but the cumulative effect from doing it several times a week certainly will. Start with a goal of three times a week, and work your way up from there. Once recovery becomes habit, I think you’ll find that 10 minutes a day, every day really isn’t that hard to do. In fact, as it becomes more of a habit I find myself more willing and able to carve out even more time for it. Ten minutes becomes 20-30 pretty easily, especially if whatever you’re doing for recovery feels good or you get in the zone with some core work. 

Multitask like elevating your legs while hanging out with your dog and watching tv.
Multitask like elevating your legs while hanging out with your dog and watching TV.

Multi-Task

For me, it’s easier to do my recovery routine when I have something else going on that can distract me but not so much I forget what I am supposed to be doing. Watching a TV show with your family? Sit on the floor to stretch or do a little self-massage on your legs. Then you’re still in the room, doing what you need to do but also not neglecting time with the others.

Do it with Intention

If you’re going to dedicate 10 minutes to something, make it count. Focus on stretching problems spots or rolling out an area that took a beating during your last workout. Maybe you need to dedicate 10 minutes in the kitchen to get organized and prep some healthy post-run snacks. If your goal for the day is to take 10 minutes to relax and de-stress, then maybe it’s not the day to multitask during your ten minutes, but instead to eliminate distractions and enjoy 10 minutes of peace.

Prioritize

On especially busy days, try and prioritize within your training. You have a one hour block of time between meetings? Maybe that means running for 50 minutes instead of 60, and using that last 10 minutes to properly cool down and grab a snack before going on with the rest of the day. Miles and time on your feet are important, but if you aren’t recovering from the miles what is the point?

When in Doubt, Sleep it Out

Sleep is one of the most important parts of recovery. Find yourself at the end of the day with a bit of time left, but really not feeling like suffering on the foam roller or, worse, even stretching sounds strenuous? GO TO BED. Getting in bed 10 minutes earlier a night adds up throughout the week.

***

Whether you stretch, ice, foam roll, shred your core, or relax with a good book, taking 10 minutes each day to devote to recovery is an excellent investment in yourself and your running.

What can you do to recover better for your training with 10 minutes?

An Upstate, NY resident who loves the marathon, a good beer, and all of the numbers/nerdy things. I write about my journey to a sub-3:00 marathon, training tweaks for improvement, and finding that "running/life balance" unicorn. On tap Next: Training to be a first time mom, here we go 2nd Trimester!

Leave a Reply

9 comments

  1. Update: I’ve been setting my iPhone timer for 10 minutes every evening and it has helped immensely! Thanks for the advice!

  2. Stupid question as I’m going to be running my first full this fall. Does recovery – in the form of stretching/rolling – have to be done right after running? Can it be done later in the day? Is it still effective if it’s done on a other day? Thanks!

    1. Not a stupid question at all! It doesn’t always need to be done right after, and later is sometimes better ( in my opinion). Right after a workout, my first priority is getting some recovery fuel in me. As for stretching/rolling I actually prefer to do this a bit later, typically before bed even. Helps me relax and I’ll sleep better, and wake up with less soreness after a hard workout.

  3. Good advice- I’m horrible about doing anything at all for recovery, but that’s a good way to think about it. 10 minutes seems manageable!

  4. Excellent advice. I often struggle with all or nothing thinking where I’m like “ugh if I can’t spend two hours at the gym (or foam rolling or whatever) then why bother.” Have been trying to commit to the theory that when it comes to foam rolling and strength training, doing a little bit several times a week is just as good…

    1. I struggled with the all or nothing for a long time (and still do sometimes). But then I realized that I was seeing improvements getting a few short sessions a week in- and it felt more manageable. I’d rather do 3-4 x 10 minutes a week for consistency than I would 1 x 60 minutes/week.