With fall right around the corner, the ideal time for running is quickly approaching. After an intense summer running season, fall brings some welcomed relief. The transition to fall running season means seeing tons of distance races and an increase in training mileage. With all this mileage comes some of the most overlooked aspects of training.
Long run recovery.
Learning how to recover from long runs is essential to staying healthy, increasing fitness, and avoiding burnout. Failure to recover after long runs will most often eventually lead to injury.
As runners, the last thing we want to do is spend even more time completing activities that don’t involve running. We choose to run because we want to log more miles and challenge ourselves to new goals – right?
But in order to meet our goals, we have to remember that some of the most crucial adaptions and fitness gains actually occur after the running has stopped. Our muscles rebuild themselves, lactic acid is flushed out, and strength is increased.
While running is in fact the fun part of the sport, taking just a few minutes post-run to ensure you are recovering your best will keep you running stronger, healthier and longer.
Long run recovery is a bit more extensive than running recovery after a regular, easy run. Running longer distances means our muscles and joints are under stress for a longer time, and the wear and tear on our bodies increases.
Related: How to Have Your Best Long Run Ever
Even so, with a little determination and commitment, bouncing back and recovering quickly from long runs is very possible. These long run recovery tips will help you ease muscle soreness, gain strength, and get running again quickly.
The Ideal Post Long Run Recovery Timeline
How to recover immediately after your long 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 or a sports drink
- You probably sweat out a lot of water on your run, so make sure to rehydrate as soon as you finish!
- Gently stretch your muscles
- Now is not the time to break out the foam roller and vigorously attack your legs. Gently stretch them out to prevent your muscles from tightening up – this will reduce your chance of experiencing muscle soreness and stiffness post long run.
How to recover within half an hour post long run:
- EAT SOMETHING!
- You probably won’t be hungry for a huge meal, but eating something during this time period is crucial. Something is always better than nothing in this situation. Whether you have a candy bar or carefully made protein smoothie – our bodies will require fuel when we are done.
- However, bringing along a snack with a balance of carbs and protein is idea. Try for a snack that is about 3/4 carbs and 1/4 protein – yogurt works well, toast with peanut butter, a protein smoothie, etc.
**Checkout these 10 healthy snacks for runners for more post-run ideas!
- Try the legs up the wall pose
- If possible – take an ice bath
- Ice baths are such a painful experience, but nearly always do the trick. (I have never recovered faster than those times I forced myself to sit in the tub filled with ice). Fill your tub with the coldest water possible and sit down in it – just a few minutes will do the trick!
How to recover within 12 hours of your long run:
- Continue to hydrate
- Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of liquid (ideally water or sports drink). Remember that you likely lost fluids in sweat while completing your long run, so recovery will mean drinking more water than usual. If you struggle to stay hydrated, here is a surprisingly easy way to drink more water.
- Foam roll
- Once your body has relaxed and cooled down, 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 likely be a bit tighter than usual. Foam rolling helps relieve any muscle adhesions and promotes blood flow and circulation.
- Rest your legs…
- Just make sure you don’t slum it out on the couch for the next 24 hours straight. Take short, frequent walk breaks to keep the blood circulating, but make sure to take it easy on the activities while your legs are still recovering from your long run.
Recovery tips for the day after your long run:
- Go for a short walk
- Remaining active is important throughout the recovery process, just be careful not to overdo it. A short walk around the block is a great way to keep things moving and speed up recovery.
- Try some yoga
- Completing some simple yoga poses or a recovery yoga routine the day after a long run is a great way to practice active recovery. The movement helps flush out the remaining lactic acid and loosen up those muscles that have tightened or may be sore.
**This recovery yoga routine has been a game-changer for me during marathon training.
Our bodies can do some incredible things, and completing a long training run is no small feat. Be sure sure to respect what you have accomplished by taking the time to complete these long run recovery steps.
The better you recover from a long run, the better your body will feel for the next. Before you know it you’ll feel fresh and ready to tackle some more miles.
Happy long running!