Like with any exercise or a great workout, distance running can leave you sore and tired afterward. To combat this, it’s important to recover after a nice long run! Recovery is a key step in any workout routine but is especially important after a run. It can look a little different from athlete to athlete, but there are a few general tips and tricks that every good distance runner incorporates into their recovery routines. This guide to recovering after a long-distance run is a great reference for any runner looking to show their bodies some love after crushing that run!
1. Cool Down Walk/Jog
It’s really important to keep moving after you finish your run, no matter how slowly. Getting a cool down jog or even walk in after you finish your distance run is key to kicking off your recovery right. It can be really tempting to be still after running for so long, but if you stop moving so suddenly or sit down after completing your run, it can have negative effects on your body!
When you stop moving so suddenly, your heart rate drops more quickly and may lead to fainting or shortness of breath. Instead of collapsing after you finish, try walking around to slow your breathing. Then, go for a short and easy cooldown jog or walk to help your muscles bounce back and prevent soreness.
After you’ve cooled down it’s always a good idea to stretch, especially after a long-distance run. Stretching helps your muscles recover after working so hard for so long during your run and prevents muscle soreness and discomfort later on.
Make sure to stretch your legs really well but don’t forget about the other muscles that worked hard to get you through your run, like your arms! There are lots of stretches out there designed to promote recovery after a workout or a tough distance run. Stretching is an important piece of proper recovery and will help you to feel better after running any distance.
Making sure you hydrate after a long run is a major part of good recovery! It’s so important to hydrate after running a long distance, especially if you went the whole way without any liquids. Staying hydrated after you finish running is important for many different reasons, and water is important for our bodies and keeps us healthy in just as many different ways!
Drinking water helps combat dehydration, promotes muscle recovery, regulates body temperature, minimizes injury – the list goes on and on. Not hydrating properly after a long-distance run can really hinder recovery and negatively affect your performance the next time you exercise. Just remember to always stay hydrated, before and after running!
4. Refuel With Protein
Getting some protein after a long run is essential to proper recovery. Protein is the nutrient that allows our bodies to keep working so hard! Having some protein after a long run helps to promote muscle recovery and keeps our bodies from breaking down after working out.
Getting protein after running for a while builds your muscles back up and helps prepare them for the next time you run, all while preventing injury and soreness later on! However you get your protein, through a protein shake or meal, and whatever kind it is, make sure you’re getting that protein as soon after running as you can!
5. Roll/Massage Your Muscles
Giving your muscles a deep rub with a foam roller or a stick roller is great for recovery because the rollers improve circulation and break down any knots in your muscles. Both foam rollers and stick rollers allow you to get a deep-tissue massage that focuses on recovery and helps your muscles to heal after a long-distance run.
Rolling out your muscles softens and loosens up the muscles in your body that may have tightened up after or even during your long run which can prevent injury and prepare your body for the next one! Foam rolling is a great tool to add to your recovery routine and will have you recovering like a pro.
6. Ice Bath
Taking a dip into some freezing icy water is a common practice among a lot of athletes, particularly runners. While it may not seem too enticing, the cold water can have some positive benefits on muscle recovery. Ice baths are most commonly used to reduce future muscle pain after a long or hard run and are believed to speed up the recovery process overall.
While ice baths may be beneficial to some, it’s important to note that they may not be for everyone. Some people may see benefits while others might not see the worth in sitting in freezing water for a period of time. A lot of it comes down to individual preferences and personal experience, but icing your muscles after a long run may help to promote muscle recovery in the legs (even if it’s just with an ice pack!).
7. Get Quality Sleep
It may seem obvious, but getting some quality sleep is an important part of recovery. Your body does most of its healing while you’re fast asleep and getting at least 8 solid hours of sleep can promote good healing and muscle recovery after a long, hard run.
While we’re asleep our bodies release important growth hormones that help repair our muscles and tissues. This helps greatly with recovering after a long run! Whether it’s going to bed or taking a nap after your run, sleep equals recovery. Additionally, if you stretch and cool down before getting your sleep, you’ll avoid waking up super sore or stiff!