Immediately after a long run, it’s tempting to grab a drink and a snack, and plop down into the nearest seat to “recover”. It probably feels great at that moment, but what about tomorrow? You won’t feel as good then. Why let all the metabolic waste sit in your muscles so you can be sore later?
With a proper cooldown, you can flush that lactic acid out of your muscles as your heart pumps in blood rich with the proteins and white blood cells needed to repair the microtears that occur with any strenuous exercise. Think of it as “out with the bad stuff, in with the good stuff”. And that means you’ll come back feeling stronger.
You have at least two choices:
- About a mile before the end of the run, start slowing down. By the time you get to the end, you should be walking.
- Finish strong, but then keep going. Go right past the group waiting at the end. Slow down to a jog, then keep walking.
Regardless of when you choose to start your cooldown, be sure to end your session with at least several minutes of walking before you sit down. Your legs will thank you the next day.