The Best Ways to Recover from Long Runs

As fall running has made it’s entrance, it is officially my favorite running season! I think it is safe to say that this weather is the most promising for runners: cooler, less humid, cloudy, and breezy. Along with this promising new running weather comes the rush of fall races. Fall races are my favorite and it seems to be the most popular time for races!

Detroit Marathon (41)

As so many people I know are preparing themselves for their first half marathon, their 50th marathon, or something in between, long runs have ramped up and mileage is increasing for those fall racers.


While I am preparing myself for the final few long runs of my training season, I wanted to share some tips and ideas that have helped me the most to recover my best from long runs in the past.

How to Recover from Long Runs

Immediately after your run:

  • Cool down by a walking
    • Don’t finish your long run and immediately sit down (I’m definitely guilty of this!). Allow your legs some time to cool down by walking a short distance before stopping movement all together.
  • Drink water
    • You probably sweat out a lot of water on your run, so make sure to take some in as soon as you finish!
  • Gently stretching your muscles
    • Now is not the time to break out the foam roller and vigorously attack your legs; gently stretch them out to prevent them from tightening up when you stopping moving.

Within half an hour after your run:

  • EAT!
    • You probably won’t be hungry for a huge meal, but eating something during this time period is crucial. Even a small snack will suffice; I’ve often found that when I force myself to eat just a small snack I start eating and slowly realize how hungry I actually am.
    • Try and focus your snacks on carbs and protein – I try to find a snack that is about 3/4 carbs and 1/4 protein – yogurt works well for me, toast with peanut butter, etc.
  • Try the legs up the wall pose to flush lactic acid out of your legs
    • I often do this when I am done cooling down, before popping a squat on the couch. This allows me to sit down and relax, but gives my legs some time the refresh.
  • If possible – take an ice bath
    • This is such a painful experience, but I have never recovered quicker than those times I forced myself to sit in the tub filled with ice.

Within 12 hours of your run:

  • Continue to hydrate
    • Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces
  • Foam roll
    • At some point during the afternoon or evening, take some time to foam roll your legs – now that they have had a chance to cool down and rest a little, your muscles will greatly benefit from this.
  • Rest your legs… but make sure you don’t slum it out on the couch for the next 24 hours straight.
    • Take short walk breaks frequently to keep your muscles from tightening up, but make sure to take it easy on the activities while your legs are tired.

The day after your long run:

  • Try some yoga
    • This has made a huge difference in shortening my recovery time! Practicing yoga the day after a long run helps flush out the remaining lactic acid in my tired legs and loosen up those muscles that have tightened or may be sore.

I have tried many different things after long runs and definitely found methods of ‘recovery’ that do not work for me. I think I have finally found a routine that helps my body recover its best and creates as little damage as possible from all those miles.

Our bodies can do some incredible things, and I always make sure to respect what I have accomplished by treating my body well in the hours after a long run. After just a day or two, if you recover correctly, your body will feel fresh and ready to tackle some more miles.

Happy long running!

How to Recover from Long Runs

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