A blog by runners. For runners.

Mastering the cool down

I don’t know about you, but right after I finish a run, I’m not thinking about my next workout – I’m only thinking about the run I just completed.

However, experts say that we can do something at the end of our current run that can better prepare us for our next workout. Specifically, we can cool down properly.

Don’t skip the cool down
If you’re like me, you probably know you should cool down but don’t always do so.

But according to Coach Jenny Hadfield, the cool down, when done correctly, “can transform the quality and recovery of each run.” Coach Jenny explains that, “skipping the cool down is effectively like going from 60 to zero and coming to a screeching halt.” This can make blood pool in your legs, which can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. It can also lengthen the recovery process and cause your legs to feel tired and heavy on the next workout (here’s more on why you should cool down).

How to cool down
Cool down exercises depend on the type of workout you’re doing. For example, if you just finished up a round of Yasso 800s, your cooldown is going to be a little more intense than if you just completed an easy run. Here’s how to cool down down after the following workouts:

  • Easy run: Ease into your cool down by taking your pace even slower for a few minutes, and then walk for the final 5 minutes of your workout.
  • Speed workout: After a speedwork session, wind down with 5-10 minutes of easy running and then another 5 minutes or so of walking. If your tempo workouts already include one easy mile at the end of your tempo-paced miles, skip ahead to the walking part of the cooldown.
  • Long run: A long run should also include a long cooldown. You should keep moving for awhile after your long run to keep muscles from tightening up. Walk and additional 0.5 to one mile after you’ve completed your run.
  • 10K race or shorter: Keep running after you’ve crossed the finish line. Run one additional mile at an easy effort, and then walk for a few minutes.
  • Races more than the 10K distance: For longer events, it’s difficult to convince yourself to keep moving after the finish line – especially after a marathon! — but it’s a must for a proper recovery. Aim to keep moving for at least 10 minutes after you finish up the race.

Stretch it out
A complete cool down includes stretching exercises. Some experts say to stretch immediately following a workout, while others say it’s best to wait a few hours. It’s your call – stretch when you feel ready.

Check out these yoga poses for runners that will stretch out the following areas:

Written by Jen Matz. 

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