After a long run, you’re tired, most likely a little dehydrated if you live in Florida where it’s constantly 95 degrees and muscle soreness may be setting in. Many people’s first reaction (mine included) would be to melt onto the couch and do nothing for the rest of the day.
Having trained for a half marathon, two Tough Mudders and several other intense “endurance” events this past spring, I know the key to recovering is found through a series of consistent steps that help your body bounce back from it’s post-workout soreness. By following the steps I’ve outlined below, you’re more likely to experience less post-workout soreness and greater benefits from your long runs.
1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Recovery begins with refueling. It’s important to hydrate with an electrolyte beverage soon after a hard workout or long run. My personal favorite is Nuun tabs in my water. I’ve recently become obsessed with the Cherry Limeade and Wild Berry flavors.
2) Stretch and foam roll
My foam rollers are my best friends- literally- after a long run. During my half marathon training, using the foam roller to roll out my quads, hamstrings, calves and anything else that felt sore or tight really helped me to recover faster.
3) Eat a small meal
Generally speaking, a 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein is what’s needed to help your body recover and replenish what it used up during activity. My favorite post long run meal lately has been the quinoa bowls at First Watch because I usually end up going to breakfast with my running buddies after our runs.
4) Compression is awesome
After all my long runs, I put on some Pro Compression socks. Compression socks help my muscles to recover faster and keep them from being too sore after long runs. In fact, every day that I wore my compression socks immediately after running long, I experienced decreased post-workout muscle soreness the same day and no muscle soreness in subsequent days.
5) Naps are very important
Some people enjoy naps, others don’t. I find that taking a 45-90 minute nap after long runs increases my productivity for the rest of the day- provided I follow the steps above first. Becoming sedentary as soon as I’m done with a long run is a big no-no, as it creates tightness in the muscles and increases the muscle soreness.
6) If you have to walk a lot…
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Most of the time if you’re doing a destination race and take your family with you, chances are you will be doing some sightseeing or at least walking around a little bit after the race itself. This is particularly true for events such as RunDisney, where runners get special prices on tickets to the parks. My favorite shoes to wear if I’m going to be walking after a race or long run are Oofos. They may not be the best looking sandals, but they sure are the most comfortable! I live in my Oofos when I’m not in my running shoes.
These are some of the things that have worked for me, but of course you will know what’s best for your body. Choosing from a variety of options to develop your own personal R&R routine will help you determine what fits into your lifestyle and works best for you.
How do you recover after long runs/hard workouts?