Harry Jameson’s top 10 recovery tips

·5-min read
Photo credit: Lululemon
Photo credit: Lululemon

Harry Jameson has trained everyone from footballer Wayne Bridge to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A veteran of three marathons, he’s learned from experience the importance that rest and recovery must play in a runner’s routine. Here, he shares with RW 10 top tips covering stress management, training and recovery.

Make recovery the priority

‘People have traditionally looked at their activity – for instance, running – as being the main thing, and rest and recovery as a small thing to be fitted in around it. It should actually be the other way round: running is the small thing; rest and recovery is the big thing. The world is waking up to the fact that you don’t get fitter when you train; you get fitter when you recover.’

Morning, afternoon or evening?

‘I believe that employing some sort of mindfulness in your training is a useful tool. If you’re someone who struggles with stress and anxiety during the day, meditate in the morning. If you’re someone who struggles with concentration in the afternoon, meditate at lunchtime. If you’re someone looking to use mediation as a sleep tool, meditate in the evening.’

You need a recovery toolkit

‘There’s no one magic bullet that will solve all your problems. I foam roll, I use a massage gun, I get a regular sports massage, and I use CBD massage balm. It is part of a regime of things I implement in order to have longevity in playing sport and help me to recover better, and I notice a difference if I remove any one of them. Is there one thing that’s going to solve all your problems? No. If you never stretch and just use CBD massage balm, you’re not going to recover optimally. But if you stretch and use CBD balm, I believe you’ll get a better overall effect. As an item in the toolbox, it’s brilliant.’

All hail the sports massage

‘I get a sports massage once a week, and it’s the best investment out there. If you’re training for a marathon and you’re not having them fairly regularly, then you’re mad. Foam rolling is better than nothing, but it’s the poor cousin of sports massage. I like its combination of deep-tissue work and manual therapy, because there’s not a runner out there who stretches enough, recovers properly or does enough weights! Go and buy yourself a block of 10 sessions. You won’t regret it.’

Respect the taper

‘Don’t think, two weeks out, “I haven’t done enough miles” and start banging miles in. I’ve seen it so many times: people doing long runs a week out from a marathon. Don’t! Two weeks out, all the work should be done. I’ve run three marathons. In New York, which is a tough one anyway, I didn’t taper sufficiently and I was in bits for weeks afterwards. In London, I found I had a kick in the final 5km because I’d tapered properly: I’d had massages, done lots of mobility and got my mind in the right place.’

Increased training needs increased recovery

‘If you’re training for a marathon, we know that an increase in miles also needs increased sleep. I think that’s where a lot of people fall down. If anything, they do the opposite: they get up really early to get their runs in before work and end up sleeping less.’

Photo credit: Lululemon
Photo credit: Lululemon

Go low and slow

‘People have exercise and stress the wrong way round. The old way of using exercise to manage stress would have been “go hard, go fast”; cathartically release anger through sprinting up a hill or hitting a punch bag. But that is pouring more adrenaline on an over-adrenalised system. What we now know about managing stress with exercise is low and slow is best. Long, slow, steady-paced runs are one of the most optimal stress-management tools out there. If someone is stressed, a low-paced 10K, perhaps with some relaxing music, is brilliant.’

Hot and cold exposure

‘I’m a fan of hot/cold exposure. It creates vasodilation/vasoconstriction and flushes the toxins out of your muscles. If you have the facility to go sauna, cold plunge, sauna, cold plunge, that’s what I’d recommend. Try to do two mins in the cold, four mins in the hot. It’s testing, but that’s part of the benefit.’

Get strong – and specific

‘Make sure you’re doing complimentary strength work. One of the things I often see is people who are just running. That’s a recipe for joint injuries as the surrounding structures aren’t necessarily strong enough to support that volume of work that you’re doing. So that’s lots of core work, glute work, back work and, most importantly, single-leg work. At no point when you run are both feet on the ground at the same time. So doing lots of static squats and static deadlifts, for me, as a runner, makes no sense. I like single-leg work and balance work.’

Challenge yourself mentally in training

‘I’ve taken on a lot of challenges in my life. But I’ve never done anything that was as tough as the final 10km of the New York marathon. I was as deep as you can be in the pain cave. My advice is: take yourself to some difficult places in your training. Believe me, in the race, you will go somewhere hard. No one can prepare you for what you’re going to feel like at kilometre 38 in a marathon when you’re chasing down a time. And no one can prepare you for how brilliant you’ll feel at kilometre 42 when you make it to the finish line. Take yourself to some tough places in your training so that you can go some way to mentally ready yourself for the challenge ahead.’

Harry Jameson is a personal trainer (harryjameson.com) and the co-founder of Rain CBD (raincbd.co.uk)

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