I know many of you probably completed a long run over the weekend, as I did on Saturday. It was my longest run postpartum–8 miles–and my God, my legs were feeling it on Sunday! I made a few mistakes on my longest run back, the first of which was starting at 9:30 a.m. Running in heat and humidity is no joke.
Even though it was only 73 degrees when I started, it was up to 78 degrees at the end, and I was in the blazing sun. It zapped a lot of my energy, and I had to take a few walk breaks. I did finish, but my legs felt like dead weight afterward! This motivated me to share some long run recovery tips for helping yourself feel somewhat normal the day after a long run!
Use a Foam Roller or the Stick
Becoming fast friends with your foam roller, Stick, or any other torture device that can help break up tightness and relax your sore muscles. WARNING– it WILL hurt! It’s a good kind of pain though, and I promise you will feel better in subsequent days! Foam rolling (also known as myofascial release) helps to break up scar tissue and adhesions in your fascia (connective tissue).
The scar tissue and adhesions occur as a result of the repeated break down and repair of muscle that occurs during training. When this occurs, you can get tightness in areas like your quads and calves. Foam rolling correctly will help alleviate the feelings.
Have a post-run recovery snack
The recovery snack should ideally be consumed within 30 minutes of completing your long run, and ideally, it will contain a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. By refueling immediately after your run, you can help your body recover more quickly. Good recovery snack ideas include a tall glass of chocolate milk, a smoothie, half a bagel with peanut butter, or a bowl of oatmeal with fresh or frozen fruit.
Make sure you fuel on your long run
Have your energy replacement snack starting at 45 minutes into your run, and every 45 minutes after (this is not an exact formula for everyone, tweak as necessary). By fueling well on your long run, you won’t bonk and you will most likely feel better in the hours after your long run.
Wear compression socks/sleeves
Compression socks/sleeves will help to increase blood flow in your lower legs. Some runners swear by wearing their compression socks on their long runs, while others prefer to wear them for the remainder of the day after a long run or that night while they sleep. Compression is beneficial for increasing circulation to your lower legs, so however you choose to use it, your legs will thank you!
Take a nap!
I usually take a nap during the afternoon after a long run, and I do think it helps me recharge my batteries. Long runs can take a lot out of you, and a quick nap helps put some of that back! Sleeping lets your body focus on repairing itself after the damage of a long run. I recommend not taking your nap too late in the day though if you want to get a good night’s sleep!
Long runs are such an important part of your half marathon on marathon training regimen, so in addition to recovering properly, you want to make sure that you have the right long-run essentials to stay as comfortable and hydrated as possible!