Welsh marathoner Natasha has become an integral member of Premax, being a #PremaxAthlete, one of the faces of the brand, and an incredible athlete who is going from strength to strength. Amongst her many achievements, she is the British Marathon Champion, holds the Welsh Marathon Record, came 11th place at the 2019 Houston Marathon, and in 2018 won the Welsh 5k bronze medal. Having suffered from multiple injuries in the past, and recovering each time to come back stronger than ever, our CEO and founder, Randall Cooper, felt that she would be the perfect person to discuss all things recovery. Frome prehab to stretching, ice baths to looking after the skin during long runs, read on to find out Natasha’s take on recovery.

What are some of the things that you do to make sure you recover as best you can?

The days when I do a lot of exercise, and even on slower days, I make sure that my recovery is equal to whatever I’ve done. Any time I run over eight miles I become a lot more vigilant about my recovery. The first thing I’ll do when I get back, moments after walking through the door, is have a recovery drink. At the moment I'm using Enhanced Sports Recovery, which is a protein drink with carbohydrates and omega-3.

Due to my injury at the moment, a lot of my post-run recovery is mostly focused on healing. This means a lot of stretching and rehab, whether it's S&C exercises, icing, and manipulation of that area. Also, really importantly, I am always fueling my body, pre-workout, during, and post-workout. That's my main recovery. I do like to use ice baths, but not too often, because I find if I use them too much I stop getting the benefits from them. So, generally I use them towards the end of a marathon training block, when I'm really sore. I know it's going to help the inflammation, but I’m also conscious that I could trick myself into thinking that I'm recovered when I'm not. So, that's an added benefit of only using them just before I naturally taper off with my training.

When you say you do lots of stretching, is it general, steady stretching, or are you also doing light things like foam rolling, self-massage, or anything else to loosen up your tissue?

Well, I probably don't do enough, and should do more. I do foam roll, and use tennis balls and golf balls to massage. I also do a bit of self-massage. I like to get massaged twice a week, but that depends on my schedule. I think a lot of my focus is pre-running, to help prevent injuries, rather than post-running, where you then have to deal with injuries, and try to recover.

So, I do a long warmup before my runs, which consists of a two mile warmup, to make sure I'm ready to go. Then static and dynamic stretching, as well as drills, and a lot of prehab exercises, which I do no matter what my training is. Right now I’m very focused on my ankle, and healing it, as the injury there creates a chain reaction throughout the rest of my body. Although it's my ankle that is hurting, my back is now also causing me problems as well. So, a lot of my stretching focuses on those areas.

The UK has such a variety of weather. When it’s hot, what do you do about sunburn? And when it is windy and cold, which can beat up your skin and cause it to get dehydrated, what do you do to look after it?

The Weather Defense Cream is a lifesaver amongst my winter gear. I recently had my first winter in Norfolk, and the wind was insane. Experiencing 24 mile winds while out running was quite intense, being exposed to such harsh elements for a long period of time. I know that at Premax you often talk to athletes, and ask them "What do you need?" in terms of creating a product, and that this was a product skiers and cyclists had specifically requested. In cycling, athletes are riding at 30 kilometers an hour for hours on end, and there's a lot of wind in their faces, so it makes sense that they would need a product to aid them. I love your sunscreen, because It's dry and light, but when it is zero degrees celsius and windy, I need something more for my face. I’d never come across a product like the Weather Defence Facial Cream, but now I can’t imagine going without it.