One of the unique characteristics of great coaches is that they continue to learn. Interestingly, if you listen to some of the “old timers” in our running community and communities around the country, they will tell you “to be a good runner you just have to run more miles.” While the appropriate volume (distance run during a specific period of days, week, months, etc.) is necessary, there are other important aspects that contribute to high performance running.
Recovery is just as important as frequency, intensity and duration.
Fortunately, over the past decade more tools have become available to aid in the recovery process. I will highlight a few of the “tools of our trade” that we utilize with our post-collegiate, Olympic development athletes on ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE.
The R8 and R3 devices and Mats from Roll Recovery
Roll Recovery’s products were developed to aid in the recovery process. Their first product, the R8, is a unique device that uses spring-like forces to “dig deep” while massaging your muscles. Many runners use “stick-like” devices, but from our experience the R8 works even better.
The R3 is a basically a roller for the foot, although it can be used on other appendages, too. Its design promotes the correct rolling pattern for your foot and is extremely useful in preventing and/or rehabbing the foot due to plantar fasciitis.
The Roll Recovery mat is hexagonal shaped and also folds up so that you can carry it easily to use immediately following your cool down. It is wide enough to accommodate more lateral movements than a normal yoga mat.
If the R3 is not enough to aid in the rehab from or prevention of plantar fasciitis, then the new DorsiFlex device is a must have. Designed by former national steeplechase standout Jim Cooper, an engineer by trade, this is the second production iteration of the product. While the initial version worked extremely well, it was made of wood. The new version is made of sturdy metal and also adjusts to allow multiple degrees of inversion or eversion of the foot. Testimonials have been extremely positive.
The ElliptiGO bicycle
For those of you who follow the amazing exploits of Meb, you are probably aware that his utilization of the ElliptiGO has been instrumental in his longevity as a super-elite marathoner. Not to be confused with an indoor elliptical unit, the ElliptiGO is a moving version that allows you to ride outside and experience much of the same sensations and benefits of actual running. And since there is no foot strike or pounding, it is extremely beneficial for those with minor injuries or adding volume for the healthy athlete. We have used both our outside ElliptiGO and our inside one (set up on a Kinetic Road Machine to simulate actual riding) for our athletes during injury or to add a second daily workout.
NormaTec Recovery Boots
Sometimes your legs need a little assistance to initiate and quicken your recovery cycle. For those of us who don’t have access or the financial means to have a post workout massage, the recovery boots by NormaTec are perfect. The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with their patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. The athlete will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to his/her exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing the feet, lower leg, or upper quad. Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up the limb.
You can actually rent time to use the NormaTec boots at Frigid Cryotherapy in Greenville.
Cocoa Elite Recovery Mix
While chocolate milk has been one of our favorite post-workout recovery drinks for many years due to favorable carbohydrate/protein (3-4/1) ratio, we have recently begun to use products from Cocoa Elite. Research has indicated that the flavanols found in cocoa may produce a positive impact on health due to their associated antioxidant properties. Flavanols help support healthy blood vessel function and the overall health of the cardiovascular system. Cocoa Elite seems to have the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins and a small amount of fat that provides the best nutrients to aid in recovery.
Friends and supporters of ASICS GTC-ELITE can purchase Cocoa Elite products with a discount by using the code "GTC-COCOA" on their website @:
Author Mike Caldwell is director/coach of ASICS GTC-ELITE and this article was written for and originally appeared in PACE Running Magazine's Summer 2017 issue.