If you've completed a marathon training cycle, you know the long run is one of the most important (and time-consuming) pieces to running a strong marathon. It can also be one of the hardest runs to properly recover.
The Long Run may reach 16-22 miles or up to 3 hours of time on feet. Those long miles and time equate to a lot of added stress on your muscles, tendons, mind, and specifically, your lower body (legs + feet). How can you set yourself up for success and recover hard? Here are my top 3 ways to recover hard!
SLEEP: Sleep is the number 1 recovery tool! It's true! A big win! Getting 7-8 hours on average a night when training hard is one of the best ways for your body to repair the muscles and fix the niggles before your next run. If you average 7-8 hours without a heavy training load, my invitation to you is to sleep an extra 30-60 minutes if your schedule allows.
I personally love the post-long run nap too! It's a great way to recharge your body and mind after a hard effort on the road or trails earlier in the day and catch up on sleep from the week. It's advised to keep the same sleep schedule 7 days a week, but we are human. Do the best you can do here!
NUTRITION + HYDRATION: In the summer months, I lose A LOT of sweat + electrolytes on long runs. I've found the best way to recover hard after a long run first begins with what I'm doing during the long run. This summer, I added Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration in my handheld and it has been a GAME CHANGER with my energy levels during and after a long run! Staying well hydrated and fueled during the long run is a critical way to start the recovery process ASAP after a run. I also use LMNT electrolyte mix after my run when I'm double-fisting electrolytes and iced coffee to refuel + hydrate! (coffee is a diuretic, but it tastes so darn good after a hot, long run!).
On the nutrition side, it's recommended to take 200-300 cals per hour during your run, calorie consumption depends on the athlete, body composition, quality vs the aerobic long run, etc. Listen to your body and figure out what works best for you! Eating a hearty breakfast before heading out the door and refueling with 4:1, carbs to protein within 60 minutes of finishing your long run effort is the best way to set yourself up for success with recovery and energy levels for the rest of the day/weekend.
MOBILITY + MORE: Stretch, Compression Boots, Epsom Salts, oh my!
But seriously, I coach a lot of athletes who put the time on the pavements and/or trails but continue to tell me their legs feel heavy. Before the run, focus on hip openers and leg swings to allow your body time to wake up and release any tension it may have stored overnight! If you're going out for an early morning run, my invitation to you is to walk around the house until it's time to leave to wake up the muscles or start your run with a 5-10 minute walk also works!
After the run, post-run stretching, compression socks/boots, and Epsom salt baths (remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate after these baths) are a great way to reduce tension, and inflammation, and restore life and strength to your legs!
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