Summer running is tough on the body. The heat and humidity will slow you down, tire you out, and leave your legs and joints swollen and uncomfortable. You know enough to drink plenty of fluids, run during the coolest part of the day, and wear appropriate clothing. But, you may be interested to learn about a technique proven to heal tired muscles and speed recovery. It’s used by some of the fastest runners on earth- race horses.
Jack Foster was a legendary masters runner. He ran a 2:11 marathon at age 41, and a 2:20 marathon at the age of 50. His world record performances were built on the ethic of hard work and common sense. He saw trainers hosing down the legs of thoroughbred horses after racing, and theorized, “if it’s good enough for race horses, it’s good enough for me.” Foster hosed down his legs with a garden hose after hard workouts and long runs.
Why it Works
Ice, ice water, and frozen peas all do the same thing. They cool your muscle tissue and help prevent inflammation that results from micro tears in the muscle fibers. The benefit of the garden hose is convenience. If I had access to an unheated swimming pool I’d probably opt for that instead, but it is what it is. I find the post-run hose down to be one of my favorite running rituals. It helps me cool down, avoid lactic acid build-up, and speeds up muscle recovery.
Another method of recovery is the cold/hot contrast. Athletes apply ice or cold water on the muscles for 10 minutes followed by a 5 minute hot shower. Or, you could just jump in the shower and alternate between hot and cold every minute in cycles. The constriction of blood vessels followed by the dilation of blood vessels is thought to help flush waste products and lactic acid and speed recovery.
Above all, do what works for you. Eat well, foam roll, massage, and listen to your body when it tells you to take it easy.