This Running Coach Swears by an Oldie-but-Goldie Recovery Routine to Amp up Her Rest Days

Photo: Getty Images/Erik Isakson
In fitness eras past, bragging about your gym gains was all the rage. Now, the real flex is how well you recover. That's why we tapped Melissa Wolfe, a coach at New York City's Mile High Run Club, to hear all about how she decompresses her body in the aftermath of long runs, hours teaching at the studio, and all her sweaty endeavors in between.

Wolfe tells me that she likes to stay foundational with her recovery routine. "I keep it simple. [I use] one of those old-school hot water bottles wrapped in a towel, and apply it to and spots that feel like they need it. Any places where old muscle or tendon injuries have left scar tissue and tightness," she says. The practice not only feels good on muscles that are too tired to deal, it also speeds up the mending process before she hits the road once more.

"As a long-distance runner, my mental game is often challenged just as much, if not more than, the state of my body." —Melissa Wolfe, runner and coach at Mile High Run Club

"Heat stimulates blood flow by dilating your blood vessels, which delivers vital healing elements to muscle tissue that is tired and in need of repair. I find heat to be soothing, on top of those other benefits," says the runner. The folks over at John Hopkins Medicine echo Wolfe's point that heat draws blood to the targeted area, reducing the stiffness, muscle spasms, and tightness. There is one rule though: you should never apply warmth to an area that has been injured in the last 48 hours. Soreness? Go for it. Pain? Stop right there.

Apart from enjoying the hot, hot heat of her trusty water bottle, she says she also leans on another ancient healing practice. "Leading in to a goal event I rely on acupuncture for recovery from my toughest training weeks," she says. Her go-to practitioner Sara Vaccariello, LAc, of Avalon Acupuncture, who focuses on sports medicine.

"I've also become a big believer that recovery days are about more than just taking care of physical rest," adds Wolfe. "As a long-distance runner, my mental game is often challenged just as much, if not more than, the state of my body. So on rest days I'm careful to take some time to refocus and keep myself calm, whether that's a walk or sitting outside in the sun, a solo session at a favorite coffee place without my phone or computer, bringing home some flowers, spending quality complete down time with people (and dogs!) I love, or cooking myself a nice meal."

In other words, Wolfe invests time into both her physical and mental recovery ensure many, many miles are before her.

These trainer-approved tips will minimize post-workout soreness. So grab your sneakers and head to the gym for a quick resistance band workout

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