5 Ways to Recover Better

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I truly believe that recovery is almost as important as training when it comes to racing.

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Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share five ways to help speed up recovery after a race or hard run.

Won’tstopcan’tstop
I totally get it: you’ve run the race of your life and you simply can’t take another step after you’re done. But if you cross the finish line and just stop moving, you’re likely to feel more tired, not less.

A cooldown walk helps your body transition from hard effort to its normal resting state. It helps get rid of that nasty lactic acid that might be at the center of DOMS (delayed onset muscle sorness) quicker.

It’s really a good idea to walk around for a while before you take your well-earned rest.

blytezone
Make sure to hydrate well after your race

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
You generally can’t drink enough during your race to replenish fluids/electrolytes lost on the run. Not unless you love that sloshing feeling in your stomach or want to hit every portapotty.

If you’re like me and you prefer straight water on long runs (although I am really digging Lytezone — read my review here), you do need to make sure you replace the electrolytes you’ve sweated out on the run.

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Carbs + protein + veggies to refuel

Refuel Properly
Refueling is actually easier if you’ve fueled properly before and during your race. So don’t overlook increasing your carbs slightly in the days leading up to your race — carb loading the night before is probably not beneficial, and could actually be harmful (making you too full and sluggish), but that doesn’t mean you need to nix carbs altogether.

The “experts” say that those first 30 minutes after a race/hard run/long run is crucial for getting in some carbs and protein, generally in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio. You may not feel like eating — which works perfectly with point2: hydrate.

Drink water, grab that Gatorade or chocolate milk. If you do feel like you could eatallthefood, have a recovery bar or indulge in some of the post race food. Eat a banana, a bagel with peanut butter, cereal and milk — during your training is the time to experiment with your post race nutrition.

Refueling doesn’t end in those first thirty minutes, though. You want to try to eat a meal about two hours after your race. Shoot for a regular meal — some protein, some carbs, some veggies. And continue to restock your glycogen stores over the next few days with quality carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oats, bananas).

Keep in mind I am neither a coach nor a nutritionist.

Legs up the wall
I have to admit, as someone who loves her yoga, I rarely remember to actually do legs up the wall — which is exactly what it sounds like, scoot your butt as close to the wall as you can get, then swing your legs up and rest them against the wall — unless I actually manage to get in some recovery yoga.

Legs up the wall will help your tired legs feel better, and relieve cramping and swelling among its many other benefits. I really must remember to do this since I am prone to muscle cramps in my legs — sometimes hours after a long run or race! And not only on hot days, I got cramps after Wineglass, too (read my review here).

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Can’t afford a post race massage? Foam roll!

Foam Roll
Foam rolling is simply an aided form of self massage. There are many benefits:

  • Helps break up knots
  • Helps increase mobility & flexibility
  • Helps break up scar tissue
  • Helps lengthen out those muscles that get so tight while running hard/long

Foams rollers aren’t expensive, they last a while (but the foam does eventually soften), and it doesn’t take much more than a few minutes of your time post run. The biggest problem with foam rollers is lugging them around — I’ve been known to do it with races we drive to, but when we fly, I bring my Original Worm with me (read my review here).

So let me know in the comments:

What is your top recovery tip?

What would you add (this list isn’t complete!)?

Do you even think about recovery after a race?

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29 thoughts on “5 Ways to Recover Better

  1. With having my “big race” in the beginning of the year this year, i’ve really slacked on all of this the rest of th year. It’s a wonder i’m not laying in a gutter somewhere!
    I’m glad I have friend like you to give me the wake up call I need!

    Have a great weekend and thanks for linking up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all great tips! I feel like after a race, I do make the effort to hydrate, eat, stretch, and foam roll. Just because I know I will feel better sooner if I do that. I also take 2-3 days off running after if I am sore. There is no reason to push it. Plus I walk around at my job all day so it’s not like my body isn’t moving at all. If I skip the runs, I’m still moving, just not POUNDING the pavement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A couple of years ago I started to make a real effort to add on a cooldown walk to my runs. I’m pretty good about it — except when the weather is really nasty (and of course then I’m likely to be on my treadmill).

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  3. I learned the hard way to keep moving after a big race. I sat and sat and sat after my first half and I was sore for days. One of the reason I booked my room at the SLS in Vegas was that’ll force me to walk there from the finish line and keep my legs going a little bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You may also have been sore simply because it was your first.

      I find I’m rarely sore these days after a half — just slightly, sometimes not even that — IF I’ve trained properly for it. Even if it was a hard effort!

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  4. I could work on getting in something within that 30 minute window after a long run or workout. I do pretty good with it after strength training cause I usually come back to the office and have a protein drink right away but not so much after a long run. It’s usually coffee first.

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  5. I’m bad…other than I try to eat carbs after a long run or race.

    I don’t find that I need to recover or stop running a half marathon so I don’t. I would if I felt sore or tired. I keep the same schedule. I feel more energetic than ever after a run or a race.

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    1. Which just probably means that you should run a marathon or maybe that you really aren’t pushing hard enough. I am definitely tired after a half — I’m happier, thank you running high, but I am also tired & want tot rest.

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  6. I try to do a cool-down walk after my runs. The block where I live is exactly a 1/2 mile loop, so I often walk that after returning home. I am terrible about eating after a long run because I never feel hungry. I do grab water or something to drink, though.

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    1. I’ve gotten really good at doing a cool down walk most of the time. Sometimes at races with friends, though. it does go by the wayside because we’re discussing the race.

      I used to not be hungry after a half, but maybe that was because I ran so many hot ones! I had no problems eating after this last one.

      Even if I’m not hungry, though, I always eat something. Doesn’t have to be a lot.

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  7. I definitely agree with walking! When I ran Flying Pig, my daughter and I walked back to the hotel where I showered, etc and then we walked back across the bridge into Cincinnati and walked around and then finally got food. Really made traveling – and running through the airport to make a connection! – so much easier the next day! As for eating, I struggle with taking in food right after a marathon. Sometimes, I can sip on chocolate milk and maybe take a bite or 2 of banana or orange but my tummy usually is not pleased. However, I did a fruit smoothie once (Odwalla or something like that) and that was fantastic!

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  8. I’ve been told that the key to recovery is proper training. I would agree with this. When I ran my best ever marathon, I had no soreness the next day. I even worked a full day! My training cycle was spot on. I’ve never had another training cycle like that and it showed in my recovery after those races. But I don’t discount proper eating and stretching/rolling either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think proper training definitely makes a huge difference, but you can also train perfectly and then not take recovery seriously — and watch all that training go right down the tubes as you burn out or get sick.

      Working the day after a marathon is pretty darn impressive.

      I do think that it’s hard to train for a new longer distance perfectly the first time; no doubt if I ever attempted a full I’d be going do the stairs on my butt!

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  9. Great tips! I try to make sure I move a little bit after a race. I totally agree that if you stop moving you’re going to feel more sore or tired than if you keep the blood flowing.

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  10. Sometimes I do feel like I can not crawl after a race but I do always try to walk at least a half mile, but usually a mile…and do some body weights squats and stretches just to unstick the muscles from the position they have been stuck in lol
    After Glacier they gave us a protein shake – it was great!! I felt sooo good the next day, I am going to carry my own to my race next week πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t do squats after a race. You’ve got a lot more energy than me!

      That’s cool about the protein shake at Glacier. They had a smoothie at UT, but it was frozen, and then I left it in the car. 😦

      Glacier is definitely one I’m eyeing for next year possibly!

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