After running a long-distance run or race over 21K, to start the recovery process as soon as possible is important to make sure our body recovers properly, starts healing, reduces inflammation and soreness so that the next day we feel better, less muscle aches, tightness, and more flexibility.
Recovery Timing and Plan
0-5 Minutes Post-Run- Rehydration
Depending on the distance, the weather (heat), make sure you drink 250ml of water or electrolytes drink to replenish the minerals and vitamins. For ultra-distance runs, to restore the carbohydrates levels you can be depleted of, consume some energy drink if your stomach can process it.
5-15 Minutes Post-Run- Stretching
After a long run, to do some light stretching will reduce the amount of soreness throughout the next few days. Perform not too intense stretching for 5-10 mins. Lengthening your muscles, especially your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves, will help loosen any acid build up and reduce the muscle pain. First, focus on your muscles that feel the tightest and weakest. Make sure you don’t overstretch to avoid causing any muscle issues.
15-30 Minutes Post-Run- Recovery Snack
To recover quickly, we need to eat some carbs and protein snack 4:1 or 3:1 ratio. Our cellular receptors are highly prone within 30-45 mins post-run to absorb nutrients, which will help to recover quicker and better. To prepare or plan your recovery snack ahead of time can be very helpful and easier. If you’re having some post-run stomach issue, to drink even a small amount of protein shake can help with recovery.
30 Minutes-1 Hour Post Run- Take a Bath
If you have access to a bath 1-2 hours after your run can be very helpful. Depending on your body type, some runners feel very good by taking a cold bath, while others prefer a hot bath. Actually, both are very helpful, even to jump in the ocean, lake or swimming pool can help provide recovery benefits. Having access to a bath 1 hour post-run can be difficult, a cold or hot shower can also provide some recovery benefits.
After the Water Bath- Compression Tights or Socks
To help reduce the muscle tightness, soreness and speed up recovery, to wear compression tights or socks for 12-24 hours after a long-distance run will help with faster recovery. You can even wear them to sleep. The 2XU brand has some good compression tights or socks.
1-2 Hours Post-Run- Recovery Meal
To replenish and refuel your body, to have a light meal after your long run will help with recovery and providing your body all the nutrients it is depleted of. Have a good meal including healthy complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Try to avoid junk foods, eating some healthier whole foods will give your body the right nutrients it requires for recovery. To add some essential vitamins and mineral supplements will help to recover much faster and support your body and muscle health.
Vitamins and Minerals Supplements:
Vitamin C- 500-1,000mg- Helps to avoid colds and other viruses.
Vitamin B12- 1,000mcg- Helps increase and support your energy levels.
Glutamine- 1,000mg- Helps your body absorb glycogen in your muscles and liver.
Magnesium- 400mg- Helps with muscle recovery, reduces soreness, and helps with sleep pattern.
Calcium- 500mg- Helps the bones and joints to heal and recover.
Vitamin D3- 125mcg- Helps the body to absorb calcium and magnesium and maintain bone health.
2+ Hours Post-Run- Rest
Depending on the time of day, a few hours after your long-distance run, your body needs to rest. If it’s daytime, have a nap, minimum 30 minutes. It will help your body to start to recover, focusing on repairing the damage from the long run. If it’s nighttime, make sure you try to sleep for 7-8 hours. Often after ultra-distance runs, our body and brain is so activated that the first night after the run is challenging to get a good rest. But even staying in bed for 7-8 hours will have some recovery benefits.
Before you go to bed at night, try to perform a good stretching session. After a few hours post-run, now you can do some deeper stretches, it will help to reduce the onset muscle soreness (DOMS), help you sleep better, and you will wake up feeling less sore and more flexible.
Also, focus on some deep breathing techniques to reduce the body’s stress level and help with a better night sleep.
Deep Breathing Technique
- Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees.
- Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
- Take five full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.
24 Hours Post-Run- Recovery
- To help activate the blood flow to increase and help with recovery, perform some light exercises.
- Do some light exercise and more stretching- Walk, yoga, stretching session, slow easy bike ride (according to your long-run distance).
- Don’t do any intense or high impact exercises.
- Eat healthy carbs, protein, green vegetables and healthy fats for muscle repair and nutrients replenishing.
- Get another good night sleep, minimum 7-8 hours.
Rest, Recover, Stay Strong!