Recovering After a Long Run
Even though you might have a summertime 5K on your mind, training season for fall half and full marathons will soon be here—and, if you’re aiming for 13.1 or 26.2 in the next few months, you’ll be logging double-digit miles in between trips to the pool. Although you may wish otherwise, long runs don’t end when you hit your appointed mileage; self-care after extended efforts is key so you can both avoid injury and be fresh for your next workout.
Here are three must-do’s after a long run:
1. Refuel quickly. Even if your stomach is feeling a little sloshy after a long run, getting in a mix of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of the end of your run is vital to help your muscles speed on their way to recovery. You don’t have to invest in high-end protein smoothies: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread works well, as does a glass of low-fat chocolate milk, which contains many of the same elements as sports drinks like sodium, magnesium and potassium.
2. Foam roll that day. You can decide if you’d rather hit the floor to iron out tight muscles right after your run or if you’d rather shower, go about your day, maybe nap, and then give them some TLC before bed. Although foam rolling isn’t exactly pleasant, releasing your quads, calves, hips, hamstrings and glutes will also greatly aid your recovery. Think of it a DIY massage session.
3. Wear compression wear. Maybe on that day but definitely that night. If you own a pair of compression calf sleeves or socks, now’s the time to pull them out. Post-run, the extra squeeze helps oxygen-rich, healing blood circulate more efficiently through your lower legs. Read: you’ll feel less swelling and more pep in your step—both useful as you look forward to your next long run.
Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.