It does not matter whether you are training to do your first ever half- or full marathon, or if you are looking to lengthen the amount of distance you run – recovering after a substantially long run is paramount to being able to keep on going.
The impact on your body post-long run can come as a surprise to many runners, no matter how fit and healthy they may feel.
Making sure you put the time and effort into taking care of your body after a particularly long run can do wonders for your overall stamina and strength when you go out to run next time.
That is because, every time you put your body under stress caused by a longer run (and general exercise) your muscle fibers begin to become damaged.
After the run, you will want to start the process of helping them to heal so you are in a better position to run for a longer time again.
In this article we shall take a look at how to recover after a long run to help you in successfully completing many more longer runs.
Timeline: How To Recover After A Long Run
There are a few different lengths of time to recover after a long run. This is because you will need to think about straight after the run, a few hours after, and the week that follows.
After The Run
Never sit down after a run, and always do a gentle walk so your legs have a chance to cool off and adjust. Once you feel ready, then you can sit down.
However, instead of sitting down, think about doing some gentle stretches to your legs. This will avoid the feeling of your legs starting to tighten up. It will also help prevent the muscles from becoming sore.
No doubt you will need to hydrate after a long run due to losing a lot of liquid. Once you finish, rehydrate as soon as possible. A sports drink is ideal to provide you with much needed sugars and electrolytes.
Within the first half hour of finishing a long run, try and eat something small.
This could be some candy, a banana or a protein shake – just something to give you some calories and to stop you from feeling sick later.
Twelve Hours After The Run
There is a good chance that you lost a lot of liquid during the run, so you will need to hydrate all day. You may find that you need to drink a lot more than usual.
Just remember that fruit and soup, and so on, can give you hydration too!
If you have a big walk planned, even if that is just hitting the shops, cancel it now. While you will want to keep having short walks to keep the blood circulating, you will also want to rest those legs.
If you have a foam roller, use that to roll your legs gently. This will help with blood circulation and ease the tight muscles.
A Day After The Run
Keep Doing Gentle Exercise
While a long run is tough on your body, you will want to make sure that you are still moving. This does not mean hitting up the gym and doing an intense workout – in fact, the exact opposite!
Take a 15 minute walk or practice some yoga. Doing this will help to flush away any lactic acid that is lurking in those muscles. You may even find that your muscles begin to loosen.
A Week After The Run
Now that it has been a week since the run, gradually ease yourself back into activities that you enjoy. Go for a light run before doing anything more intense, or take up yoga a couple of times a week.
Over time, you can increase the intensity again. Just remember that if your body is reacting against it, slow it down again.
By now you should have been stretching every single day since the run. It will help with any soreness you may still be feeling, and help to ease the muscles.
Even when you start to feel really good, try to stretch every day and make it a healthy habit.
Remember to Listen to What Your Body Tells You
One of the most important factors when it comes to recovering after a long run is to listen to what your body tells you.
While you may want to get back out there doing stuff, you will need to give your body sufficient time to recover.
While you may have recovered quickly after a long run a few years ago, you might need more time now.
If you are still full of muscle tightness and soreness once a week has passed, keep stretching and try some gentle yoga.
If you go ahead and fight through soreness and tightness, you might injure yourself which will put you out of running for even longer.
Does It Take Long To Recover After A Longer Run?
You might find that you take longer to recover than the timeline above, and that is absolutely fine. There is no real set time to fully recover, and instead you should listen and feel what your body needs.
Overall, the time spent recovering may be all down to your age, fitness, health, and the quality of the training that you did in the first place.
If you are planning a long run or are about to embark on marathon training, then you will want to know how to recover properly.
Doing so will ensure that you do not sustain any injuries, and it allows you to get up and run longer distances again.
So long as you make sure to give your body time to heal, then you will find that you recover well. This may take a week or two, so do keep that in mind.
Just remember to hydrate well!