Too much pampering can erode performance gains. But scientists still aren’t clear on the most effective short-term methods. For now, your best bet is to offset intense training with standard recovery techniques and use enhanced measures before race day.
STANDARD TECHNIQUES TO USE YEAR-ROUND
Sleep: A regular schedule of seven to nine hours will help ensure you reach the deepest, most restorative phases of the sleep cycle.
Postworkout nutrition: Down a drink with a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein; for most people, this is the ideal balance for refilling energy stores and building muscle.
ENHANCED MEASURES TO PREPARE FOR RACE DAY
Ice tub: Soak for 15 minutes at 50 degrees Fahrenheit to put the brakes on postworkout muscle inflammation, one of the primary causes of sore muscles.
Compression garments: Don kneesocks or leggings with medical-grade graduated compression, which help ward off inflammation after long runs.
SUPPLEMENTS TO THINK TWICE ABOUT
Anti-imflammatory drugs: Ibuprofen and other remedies are ideal for relief of short-term acute pain but ongoing use may slow healing of nagging pain and reduce tissue adaptation.
Antioxidants: Recent studies suggest that some supplements, such as vitamin E and quercetin, pose a possible cancer risk.