While running, itself, is a relatively straightforward and simple sport—not one that necessitates tons of equipment or years of specialized instruction—runners, nonetheless, do like their "stuff." Besides having their favorites for their actual runs—such as their favorite GPS watch to wear, their most comfortable shoes, or their favorite shorts—many runners look forward to what they’ll be consuming after the run, sometimes just as much as the run itself.
The food and drink runners consume immediately after finishing a run can have an important effect on their health, well-being, and propensity to "jump back" from the run. There is tons of evidence-backed research out there that clarifies exactly what the nutritional composition should be for a food or drink post-run, and runners themselves will gladly give you tons of their own personal recommendations.
Personally, after a hard speed run or a long distance run, it can be hard for me (or for my stomach, anyway) to "calm down" enough to enjoy a substantial meal, much less real food. However, as the research suggests, it behooves me to eat within 60–90 minutes of finishing my run so as to take advantage of my muscles and body "sopping up" the nutrients from the foods and beverages I consume during this critical window that’s important for recovery and repair.
Below, I’ll describe in detail what my post-run recovery routine often looks like, and I’ll also describe why I think including tea in your post-run recovery routine may make a lot of sense for you (and how it may even help you in your recovery process). While I’m not a physician or a dietitian, my recommendations come from my own personal experience, so if you’re in a slump with your recovery process, you may want to consider my suggestions, particularly if you’re up to trying something new.
Hydrate with water first, and get the teapot boiling.
When I finish my run, one of the first things I do is begin to drink water. If the run is longer than an hour, I’ll also drink some sort of electrolyte-based drink. Almost always, I will begin to boil water or steep tea leaves for the cup of tea that I’m anxiously awaiting, too.
Choose a tea that’s specific to your needs.
There are tons of different tea varieties available, some with or without caffeine, so you have a ton of latitude when it comes to making choices about what’s right for you. If you’re lucky, you may even find some athletic-based tea options that can specifically target recovery! Some considerations you want to make may be practical, too, such as: do I need to stay awake for the rest of the day (in which case, you may want to opt for a more highly caffeinated tea) or can I take a quick nap now and then start my day later (in which case, you’ll probably want something decaffeinated or something that may help you relax and go to sleep)? Additionally, often my stomach hurts after I run a particularly hard workout, and drinking a cup of tea can help rectify that. If you’re having stomach or gastrointestinal problems, you may want to consider doing the same.
Create a tea ritual as part of your recovery.
Runners are very process-focused people, and as such, they love their rituals. Consider creating some sort of tea ritual in your recovery process post-run. That may look like steeping a cup of your favorite tea while writing a quick journal entry about your run. It may also look like sipping on a cup of tea while you go through a short series of yoga poses to help your muscles recover from the efforts you posted. Create a ritual that makes sense for you and is something that you can maintain and actually look forward to each day (or each time that you run).
Get fancy with your tea as a “reward” for your hard work.
Sometimes runners like to reward themselves with a fancy drink or a sweet treat for their hard runs, and if you’re into that sort of thing, tea can most definitely fit the bill! You can learn how to make your favorite fancy tea drinks at home, or if you’d like to splurge and treat yourself, go patronize your favorite local tea establishment to buy your favorite concoction. You can also incorporate tea into your drinks you make at home, such as by tossing some matcha powder into your post-run smoothie or into a baked good that you create after your runs. The possibilities are really pretty limitless.
Use tea selectively to help you sleep at night.
Between running hard during the daytime and having a job, going to school, caring for parents or children, and all the many other responsibilities you have, chances are high that you already sleep pretty soundly at night. If that’s not the case, you can selectively use tea to help you sleep better at night. There are different tea varieties that can help you "wind down" at night, so if you’re not sleeping as well as you’d like to, definitely consider looking into some tea as a safe alternative to sleeping pills.
The aforementioned are just a few tips that can help guide you toward including tea in your post-run recovery process. There are so many varieties and blends of teas available that the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you make your tea your own; just like in running, much of it will be trial and error and an experiment by one person (you!).
Ultimately, what it all boils down to (bad pun, sorry!) is finding a process and routine that work best for you and are something that you look forward to each time you finish your run. Have fun with it and see where it can take you (and how much other areas of your life, such as your running and your sleeping, benefit)!
This is a guest article written by Jane Grates, Co-Owner of Rockay socks.
Author's Bio: Jane Grates
A full-time writer, fitness enthusiast, and co-owner of Rockay socks. Working at the nexus of modernism and intellectual purity to craft experiences that go beyond design.