Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Recover from Long Runs Like a Boss

I've done my fair share of long runs during this JFK training cycle. For my first marathon last year I ran three 20+ mile runs, for example, whereas this time around I ran 10 including two 25s, one 30, and back-to-back 20s.

While my body has certainly developed some serious recovery skills, I still ache after long runs, and so over the past few months I've developed a tired and true "long run recovery system" that has thus far kept me injury-free and running happy. So, without further ado, I present:

How to Recover from Long Runs Like a BOSS

1. Hot Shower

During my first ever 20-miler I was very shocked that I started getting sore during the run. Umm, isn't that supposed to happen the next morning? I don't care if it is 95 degrees or 35 degrees, nothing feels as good and loosens up sore muscles like a hot shower. Not to mention the liberating feeling of washing the salt and sweat off of your skin.

2. Aspaeris Pivot Shorts

I bought two pairs of these shorts on a whim last year when a fellow blogger offered a discount. Then they sat in my closet for awhile. Then I finally put a pair on and they felt so constrictive (they are for compression after all) that I couldn't keep them on for very long (if only out of vanity). During this training cycle, however, they have become a staple of my post-long run wardrobe and its not uncommon during the end of a long run for my hips to cry "pivot shorts NOW!"

These are handsdown the best things in my entire running wardrobe. Back in August I dealt with a gnawing, stubborn pain in my hip that no massage or foam roller could reach. 30 minutes in these shorts and BAM, no pain! I cannot recommend these enough!

For all of the miles I put in my feet look pretty good. Not good enough for me to walk into a nail salon without feeling some sort of shame, but as far as runner's feet go I'd say they're not bad. Enter Bliss Socks. I put them on immediately after my hot shower post-long run. For some reason I think having fresh shower feet makes them work better. Whether that's true or not, they definitely feel great!

My typical view point after a long run for a few hours
4. Ice

Call me paranoid, but ever since my injury in the spring I ice every day whether something is hurting or not. I know where my sensitive areas are (shins) so I baby them as much as possible to try and prevent any injuries. So far so good!

Second icing option? Ice bath. Two pairs or socks, bathing suit, and a hot cup of tea recommended

Sometime over the last year I discovered these amazing ice packs by ThermiPaq. They have a clay interior and a washable sleeve with a velcro strap. They stay nice and cold and can be secured to your leg or arm or wherever you need it. We now have three or four in our freezer on a constant basis and I even keep one at work. They are a little pricey (about $18 each at my CVS), but if you ice a lot its totally worth it to invest in a reusable ice pack. 

5. Compression Sleeves

I wear compression something nearly every day of the week. During the weekdays I usually run without any sleeves or socks, but wear compression sleeves to bed every night. During the weekends I wear socks during my runs since they are longer and then let me legs breathe overnight. This strategy has worked out really great and I don't find my calves sore very often.

My favorite sleeves for nightime recovery are CEP Compression. They are nice and tight on me and by the time I wake up in the morning my legs feel perfect!

6. Whatever You're Craving Most

Pizza? Veggie burger and fries? Smoothie? Or maybe a half dozen cupcakes? Just fill in the blank! Eating is probably one of the best parts about long runs (and ultras, where aid station food is filled with cookies and chips and anything else your sweaty heart desires!).

7. Foam Rolling

I've preached my love of the The Grid before. We hang out together every single night for about 5-10 minutes whether I've run that day or not. Do it! Your legs will love you for it.

8. Sleep

8-9 hours can never hurt and hopefully a long run will knock you right out! With all of the miles I was putting in this cycle I got weary-eyed around 8:30 pm every night. Old people style.

9. Ab Work
I thought I'd stick ab work in here at the bottom because really, after a long run the last thing I want to do is work out more. That said, maintaining a strong core is essential for runners. It's during those last few miles of the marathon, when your body is fatiguing, that your abs help keep your center strong and your upper and lower body going. I squeeze in about 250 reps of some kind of ab work about six nights a week. Its a lot easier if you do sets of 50 and pick different exercises every night. Spice it up!

What is ONE thing you do after every single long run to recover?


  1. I love yoga for recovery! I go to class four times a week and try to practice a little on my own also. It's been amazing for my running.

    1. I wish I could get into yoga, but I can never seem to stick with it. Glad it is working so well for you!

  2. I'm pretty much on your plan! Except that hot coffee is a necessity (or iced coffee in the summer, but it's hard to even remember that). Aspaeris shorts are truly magical. So is ice cream. We are in the 10 day forecast - 0% chance of rain right now!


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