One of the things I’ve been paying extra attention to this marathon training cycle is my recovery after hard workouts.
Normally when I train for a race, I do my quality workouts, squeeze in some stretching and call it a day. In terms of recovery, that’s not the greatest plan, and I would tend to wake up the next day with lots of muscle soreness, which of course meant my next run was crappy.
This time around I’m actually focusing on recovering well after long runs, so that I can push it harder in my quality workouts.
For me, recovery starts pretty much when I walk in the door. After downing a big glass of water, I either mix up a protein shake or have a glass of chocolate milk.
Lately I’ve been going the protein shake route because dairy hasn’t been sitting well with my stomach. EAS sent me this vanilla protein powder ages ago, and it’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate it.
While I’d prefer the chocolate flavor, the vanilla isn’t actually so bad, and I have to say, the protein powder has been doing an amazing job of curbing my insatiable post-long run hunger.
After I’ve gotten some easily digestible protein into my system, I spend a good 15-20 minutes stretching. My poor little legs are usually so shot that even the gentlest stretches feel good. My favorite lately has been pigeon to help open my hips.
Then it’s time for my ice bath. Ice baths are not fun, but I’m fairly certain they are the reason I have had practically no post-long run muscle soreness in the following days. Normally, I end up hobbling around the house the day after long runs because my legs are so mad at me, but ice baths have really helped with that.
I fill the tub with the coldest water possible, get in and then dump in a big bag of ice. And then I sit there for a solid 15 minutes. My chattering teeth don’t love it, but my legs do.
Once the ice bath is done and I’m all showered and smelling good again, I slide on my compression sleeves and dig into some solid food, usually a turkey sandwich or an egg and cheese sandwich.
I won’t lie, this recovery process takes a long time. I would say from the minute I walk in the door after my run, until the time I’m cleaned up and ready to move on with my day, it’s about an hour or two later.
I don’t love that recovery takes so much time, but I have to say after a few weeks of zero post-long run soreness, I’ve decided it’s time well spent and definitely worth keeping as part of my routine.
How do you recover after long runs?