Shake-Ups: Cool Down Exercises for Maximum Recovery

At the college level, it seemed that we spent as much time doing non-running training than we did running (and we ran 80+ miles per week!).

Cool Down Exercises

Even though we were running nearly an hour and a half every day, there were so many other things to do:

Sometimes, I felt like a part-time student and a full-time runner.

Layered on top of a high-volume training program, these cool down exercises, drills, and strength sessions had the desired effect: I felt athletic as well as strong and fast.

And it’s no surprise that our program was modeled after what the best runners in the world do on a daily basis.

After all: if you want to excel then you should model the best.

Now you know why I’m so adamant about “the little things” that help you run faster. If you only focus on running, you’ll only be a one-dimensional runner without the athleticism for speed.

Today, I want to give you a sneak peak into a drill that we did at Connecticut College to help cool down from a hard workout.

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Shake-Ups: Cool Down Dynamically

Shake-ups are part of the cool-down process after a particularly challenging workout. They’re not as necessary after an easy run.

They’re designed to be completed as soon as you’re done with the repetitions, intervals, tempo, or otherwise the “workout” part of the training session – but not after the easy running you’ll do as part of the cool down.

How to Run Shake-Ups

Our shake-up video demonstration will show you just how to do these cool down exercises:

These drills are best done on a 400m outdoor track. One set (4 reps) will take you one lap of the track.

And each repetition will take you about 100m and includes:

  • 25m Skip
  • 50m Slow Stride
  • 25m Walk

The skips can be alternated so you’re doing a combination of front and backwards skips, A-skips, and arm swings.

Why Are Shake-ups Effective Cool Down Exercises?

These exercises are done after a challenging speed workout – and that’s the key to understanding their real benefit.

First, let’s take a look at what a hard workout does to your body:

  • Produces lactate and other exercise byproducts
  • Lowers the pH of the blood (making it more acidic)
  • Creates muscle damage that results in “tighter” muscles

Now that we understand some of the results of a fast workout, we know how to cool down effectively.

First, grab a six-pack and fire up Netflix. We’re going to spend the next few hours on the couch.

Ok… that’s not going to work. Actually, that might be the worst thing you can do to recover.

Let’s do this the right way!

Every hard workout should roughly resemble a bell curve of overall effort. Every activity brings you closer to your peak effort:

  • Start with a dynamic warm-up
  • Then do some easy running
  • Follow that with drills and strides
  • Now run the workout!
  • Cool down with shake-ups
  • And some easy running
  • Finish with a strength routine

Shake-ups form a bridge of easy cool down exercises between the workout and more easy running.

You’ll clear exercise byproducts from your bloodstream more effectively, increase your range of motion, build strength, and aid recovery (not to mention improve general athleticism and your running form).

For those days with exceptionally hard workouts, it pays to do an exceptional cool down to help you recover.

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And a big thanks to Head Track Coach Ned Bishop at Connecticut College for jogging my memory about the structure of this exercise!

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