Running with the couch to 5k group has thrown up a few questions so I have decided to write a few sensible advice posts, I know, sensible isn’t my thing but I’ll try. This one is related to after running. I’m going to focus on 2 main areas; stretching, and hydration.
The thinking on stretching is varied, some say it’s essential after a run, others say not. I have not found any evidence that points to it being harmful when done correctly. The important word there is; correctly. Bad stretching techniques can be harmful. The experts seem to agree that it is best to stretch when muscles are warm, so no pre run stretches.
A physio once described muscle fibres as a plate of spaghetti all mixed up and tangled. Stretches straighten the muscles fibres out and make them nice and smooth. I think that is a good description.
Post run stretches must be gentle, if you get to the point of pain, stop. Hold the stretch, again the advice here differs, some say 15-20 seconds, others say 30-60 seconds. Personally, I go for the 15-20, especially if it is one that involves balance. And whilst stretching, don’t forget to breathe, breathing is very important.
It might be useful to get someone to check that you are doing your stretches right. Run leaders are good for this, also physios and sports therapists.
Hydration is very important pre and post run. 100 – 200ml around 30 minutes before a run can help to keep you hydrate during the run. Your body will let you know if you’re getting dehydrated, you will feel thirsty and may also develop a cough.
I pretty much always have a post run cough and didn’t really know what it was and just accepted it until someone mentioned that it was a sign of dehydration. I felt that I should already know this so did a bit of research and found an article that supported that information.
It’s not really essential to take a drink on shorter runs but I used to always carry a bottle, I did get quite anxious if I forgot it. It was more of a comfort blanket, I can easily run 5k without a drink. If you really can’t run without a drink there are some great accessories out there to carry bottles in, ranging from multiple small bottles to a single large bottle.
There is some research that suggests that milk is good for re-hydration as it also contains some nutrients. I wouldn’t advise carrying milk on a run, especially in the summer. Sour milk is not a good thing and the jiggling from running might even turn it to something even less pleasant.
The main message here is to listen to your body. If it’s tight stretch it until it feels good, if it’s thirsty hydrate it.
Runner’s World – The complete guide to women’s running.
Women’s Running magazine ( there are a few magazines out there but this is my preference).
Anatomy of Running.