Top Recovery Workouts for After Running

Raise your game.

These recovery workouts for after running will help you optimise your recovery and maximise your fitness gains over both short, and long-term periods.

There are many articles that teach and show runners how to recover, rest and replenish their bodies, but this one is aimed for CrossFit Athletes, or any other athlete that incorporates running as one aspect amongst others within their training.

This article provides recovery workouts in three forms: movement flows, cold water swimming workouts and upper body WODs.

What Happens During the Recovery Period?

Although during running is when stimulation for fitness growth occurs, it’s during the recovery period the actual progress is made.

CrossFit Open Workout 21.1

During this period, your body undergoes a number of processes to repair muscle fibres, builds new blood vessels to the damaged areas, and restores homeostasis.

Devoid of recovery, none of the training-related positive adaptations would take place.

General recovery protocol often includes a selection of the following: stretching, nutrition, hydration, foam rolling, ice therapy, sleep, stress management and compression.

Recovery Workouts for after Running

First up are movement flows…

Movement Flows Workouts

Movement flow workouts are excellent for recovery because they operate between specific mobility work and active recovery.

You are moving and they get the blood pumping back into the entire body, but at a relaxed and steady rate. Muscles are put through various ranges of motion and movements and this helps the recovering legs (in this case) get active without being overworked.

Triplanar training is when we use movements in all three planes of motion. 

These planes are saggital (forward/backward), frontal (left/right, sometimes called coronal) and transverse (rotation). 

Technically speaking, all training is triplanar as ALL movement has at least a small component in each plane. For the purpose of this article, I want to talk about triplanar training as being training that specifically employs movements in the frontal and transverse planes as well as the traditional saggital plane of motion, where most gym based training, including crossfit spends the majority of its time.

Triplanar training makes you stronger

Quick anatomy lesson: Muscles attach to bones through tendons.  Depending on exactly which bones they attach to and where specifically they attach on those bones determines the direction(s) in which they can produce force and therefore create movement. 

At a basic level, this is the reason your bicep can bend your elbow, but not straighten it, or extend your hip.  At an advanced level, this is the reason you need to get your hip into flexion, adduction and internal rotation to get the best stretch in your glute (fancy talk for a crossover step on a box with a turned in toe, try it).

Given that muscle attachment points are not all saggitally aligned, we can see the human body was not evolved (or created, you decide) for just moving forwards and backwards.  As we discussed with the glute, to get the most stretch in a muscle, we often have to go across multiple planes.


10 x 2

Candle stick- reverse burpee- forward roll- burpee- broad jump.


‘Why would we want to get the most stretch in a muscle?’ I hear you ask, good question.  By training a muscle in its most lengthened state, we are putting it in its weakest position, this is why the bottom of a squat is harder than the top – quads and glutes are more stretched, and also why your bicep is stronger with arm fully bent than nearer to fully straight.

In short, only working in the saggital plane is training some really important muscles in a partial range of motion, just like doing shallow squats, this is not what we want.  By training our muscles in a bigger range of motion, we improve recruitment of muscle fibres and will get more strength gainz. 

This carries over to our traditional saggital lifts too – it’s very common to smash PRs after adding some triplanar variations to your big lifts.


Linked in to the previous point, given muscles cross planes of motion, having a movement restriction in one direction can (and usually does) impact movement in another. 

A classic example of this is poor adduction, abduction or rotation in the hip impacting squat depth – i.e. if you can’t wave your leg left and right well, it can stop you squatting to full depth.  This is because a small amount of these movements is required to drop through parallel.

By training our muscles and joints in all three planes of motion, we can prevent and reverse movement restrictions in those neglected frontal and transverse planes, which ultimately improves mobility in the saggital plane lifts that we really care about (squat depth and overhead position).

That and it’s way more fun than foam rolling.

Anatomy lesson #2: muscles work in pairs, an agonist and an antagonist, which create opposing movements.  For a maximal contraction of an agonist, there needs to be appropriate relaxation of the antagonist. 

For example, you couldn’t do a max effort bicep curl if you were also contracting your tricep, could you? No, of course not. 

This applies not only to max effort strength output, but to your monostructural cardio work too.  A tight ITB or hip flexor is wasting energy on every step of a run and every stroke on the rower as that tightness needs to be overcome before any force can be created. 

You’re effectively turning your body into a car with one wheel out of alignment, making things much harder for yourself. 

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