After running more than 40 road races over the years I have learned a little bit about running. I have mentioned before when talking about running that I usually put in “recovery time” after my races. How to recover after run is equally important after any run, not just a race.
Today I’m sharing my top tips for running recovery. These are the exact things I do to recover after a hard run, a long run or a race. These are my tried and true tips. They also work for long runs as well or speed work, which can equally tax the body.
How to Recover After Run
Running Recovery Tips
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, when I learn how to recover after your run.
Recovering after your run or a race is very important. These tips will help you recover properly. Just as runners prepare in advance for a race with training, stretching and even picking out what to wear, recovery is another component of the running journey.
Recover From Running
All of these tips can be implemented or just some of the tips. This is a comprehensive list of everything I have done during my running journey. If it’s a longer or harder run and if it’s after a race I am more apt to follow every tip listed.
You can pick and choose which tips work best for you and your personal running journey. Today I’m sharing the following seven tips:
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 a slower runner so by the time I finish, most everyone already has completed their race. No one is left to cheer on and we are quickly heading to the car to leave.
2) Hydrate & Refuel. Most nutrition and health 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.
After you race or run, take in some fuel and also be sure to hydrate. Water is great of course. I also like drinking the Original Gatorade (not G2, as it has artificial sweeteners) after a hard run or when I need to replenish my electrolytes.
I have also enjoyed the Accelerade Protein Powder Recovery Drink (pictured here below) because it packs protein as well as electrolytes. Your body may need electrolytes especially after a long run or in the heat of summer.
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 can easily cause chafing.
Some athletes also experience breakouts if they don’t change right away. I like to take a full shower and change into come clean and comfortable clothes (such as sweats and a T-shirt) as soon as I arrive home from a race or after a longer run.
4) Elevate Your Legs Above Your Heart. I love doing a “legs up the wall” pose post-run. I haven’t taken a photo recently of this somewhat strange pose but I have included an older photo before of what it looks like. You will want to lie on your back and inch your body forward, until your backside is touching the wall, and your legs are straight up in the air.
If you can, try to 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 because I was so tired after a race.
It’s actually quite relaxing and I have found it does wonders for helping my legs recover. This position reverses the blood flow in the legs. This pose is common in yoga classes for the same reasons.
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. My weapons of choice are the Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller and the Tiger Tail Muscle Roller Massage Stick. Both of these items are pictured below. They are basically at home massage tools.
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.
Try to drink fluids throughout the remainder of the day and eat balanced snacks and meals. Be sure to eat both protein and carbohydrates. If you are looking for a good protein powder, Purely Inspired is my favorite. Incorporate fruit and vegetables into your meals 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. Many runners swear by taking ice baths after their runs. I have never done this myself.
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.
How to Recover After Long Run
Recovering after your race is important. These are my tried and true tactics for when I need to recover after a hard run, a long run or a race. You can try some of these tips or all of them.
How do you recover after a run?
*This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.