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Active recovery describes lower intensity activity after performing a hard workout or race. This can range from an easy run or cool down, to various forms of cross-training. By maintaining a heart rate above your resting heart rate, active recovery facilitates restoration by increasing blood flow and decreasing muscle waste products.
Whereas active recovery still involves some form of exercise, rest days are all about passive recovery and do not involve exercise. These are the days to allow both the body and mind to have a break from training (this does not mean neglecting other forms of recovery, including sleep and nutrition.) A full day of rest allows the body to absorb the hard work and training you have been putting forward while also giving an often needed mental break.
We have all heard about the importance of sleep and how it allows the body to perform at its best. This is even truer for runners, as we are putting extra stress and strain on our bodies each day. Sleep allows the body to repair and rebuild itself after strenuous workouts. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and athletes should lean towards the higher side (or even a couple hours more).
When most people think of massage, they envision white fluffy robes, calming music, and lavender-scented lotion. However, this is only one form of massage. There are in fact four common types of massage (the Swedish mentioned above), each of which has its own benefits for the body. Depending on your recovery needs, each form of massage can be beneficial at different points in your training. No matter which form of massage you choose, the overall goal is to aid in recovery through increased circulation and relaxation of muscles.
Think of your body as a car. If you don’t put enough gas in your car or stay up-to-date with the maintenance your car won’t run efficiently. Similarly, as runners, food is our fuel source. We cannot expect to perform our best if we are not fueling our bodies with the nutrients and calories it needs. The food we put into our bodies helps us to recover after our runs. Focusing on whole foods and colorful plates will help ensure we meet our nutritional needs and can help rebuild damaged muscles, even making them stronger than before our workout.
Foam rollers: a common tool found in the homes of runners everywhere! This is a recovery tool preferred by the masses due to its portability, affordability, and ease of use. Like massage, foam rolling focuses on myofascial release to increase blood flow and relax tense muscles. Also, foam rolling has been shown to improve range of motion leading to more efficient running mechanics.
Gone For a Run Virtual Races are awesome. Fun monthly race themes, amazing medals and great swag. It's your race on your terms - run alone, with a group in the park or around the neighborhood. A portion of your race entry is donated to a great charity. Check it out - we'd love for you to join our virtual race community.
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