I have mentioned before that I usually put in “recovery time” after my races. I thought now might be a good time to share what I do for recovery, and hear what your tips are. I most often use these recovery methods after a long run or a race — which is when I feel my body is pushed the hardest.
How to Recover After Your Run
1) Get Off Your Feet. I find I feel more worn down if I don’t get some rest in afterward. I usually don’t make a habit of hanging out very long after I finish a race. Unless I think I’m up for an award — I’m outta there. Keep in mind I’m slow so by the time I finish, most everyone already has. No one is left to cheer on!
2) Hydrate & Refuel. Experts say it’s best to eat a mixture of carbohydrates and protein within the first 60-minutes after a hard workout. Some even say within the first 30-minutes after. So take in some fuel and also be sure to hydrate. Water is good. But I also like drinking the Original Gatorade (not G2, it has artificial sweeteners) after a hard run. I also really like the Accelerade Protein Powder Recovery Drink because it pack protein as well as electrolytes.
3) Shower Right Away. This might sound simple, but your skin will thank you if you get out of those sweaty clothes right away. Dried salt on your body = chafing.
4) Elevate Your Legs Above Your Heart. I love doing a legs up the wall pose post-run. Lie on your back and inch forward until your behind is touching the wall and your legs are straight up in the air. If you can, stay there at least 10 to 15 minutes — or longer. On several occasions I’ve done this while talking on the phone. Another time I actually fell asleep in this position! It’s actually quite relaxing and I have found it does wonders for helping my legs recover.
My weapons of choice are the Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller
5) Stretch Out & Foam Roll. I’m an advocate for at least some minimal stretching immediately after a hard race or run, as a cool down. If you can’t, or opt not to do that, I recommend doing so later in the day after you are cleaned up and re-fueled. Your body will thank you later. Don’t forget to do some foam-rolling to get the rest of the kinks out and to massage the tendons and harder-to-reach muscles on your body.
6) Continue Eating & Rest. At times I get so caught up in the post-race glory that I forget to eat several hours later. I usually stick to some well-rounded meals the rest of the day. Of course continue your hydration as well. A good night’s sleep always helps too!
7) Ice, Biofreeze & Take Ibuprofen… but not all at the same time. Icing after a run may speed recovery. For example, I iced my wonky knee after a 10K race. And also I popped some ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation. I would not advise taking ibuprofen before a race. You don’t want to trick your body into thinking it’s not in pain and then run through the masked pain.
Have you ever received samples of Biofreeze in your race swag bag? If not, you need to buy some and try it. Biofreeze is an icy gel you apply to your skin. I have found it helps ease normal movement after a hard race. Similar to the Ibuprofen, be careful not to use this product and then overexert yourself.
Am I missing anything? How do you recover after a run?
*This year I am periodically republishing old posts which either didn’t receive the attention they could have at the time they were written, or still provide useful information today. Some of the information in this post has been updated to make it more current.