5 Phases to Speed Up Your Running Recovery

Phase 2: Pacing and Nutrition

Assuming you showed up in good condition, your work is only one-third done. All that good preparation can go right out the window if you decide to hammer like an Olympic sprinter and recover by eating like a long-haul trucker at the roadside diner. Here are some tips to continue the positive cycle of recovery.

Law of Conservation of Energy: Borrowing from Physics, this law states that "states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time (is said to be conserved over time)."  You want to run your event in the same manner; working just hard enough to fast without overextending to the point that you can't replicate (or improve!) this effort again in the near future. To put it another way, you should run every segment of your event with the total mileage in mind—pacing the Goofy Challenge, then, is about racing a 39.3 event, not a half or a full.

Be a Tortoise: Your goal is to be your best across the whole event, and the most optimal way to achieve that is to be consistent. Do the math on what you want your goals to be, map the pacing out as best you can across your event and then stick to the plan. Save all the last minute heroics for just that—the last few miles. It's easy to be overconfident and make mistakes in the early stages when you still feel good—after all everyone feels good at this point. Your goal is to still feel good at the end, when it's crunch time, and to have that little bit more mental / physical energy to get it done.

Never Bonk: Another reason to back down the pacing slightly and to formulate a plan is to make sure that you are in a constant state of good fueling practices. What you consume during your run is almost as important as what you eat afterwards. Make sure it's portable and easy to use by testing it in training. Have enough for the full event packed, and just a few extra for each leg you are on. The last thing you want to do is run out before you hit the finish. Bonus if you can find out what will be on the course and train with it.

Note: The longer you are running in terms of sessions per day and total days, the more you'll need to fuel. While you might not eat anything on your average hour-long run at home, stacking several of those across 48 hours will require you to consume some calories to fuel your body during the actual run.

More: Best Race Foods for Runners

Phase 3: 30 Minutes Post-Run

Now that your segment is done, it's time to stop the watch and start focusing on recovery. Save staring at your splits for later in the day; you only have a short period of time to effectively start the recovery process and missing the window can really sabotage your overall goals.

Fresh Clothes: You simply can't beat a nice new layer of dry clothes—even if you haven't showered! This includes everything from a hat to footwear. The faster you can switch the better, as your body can then begin putting energy into recovery and not into keeping you warm, etc. Be sure to pack clothes for roughly 20-degrees cooler than anticipated at your finish. Even if it's 80 out, you'll want to have a light-weight fleece that you could use on a regular 60-degree day.

Feeding Time: Up next is some quick food for your muscles; without getting into the science, most experts recommend a liquid beverage with a 4:1 ratio of proteins to carbs. There are a lot of fancy supplements you can order online, but truth be told low-fat chocolate milk is an excellent substitute. Whatever your drink of choice, get it in quickly and with a good amount of water as well.

More: Eat for Recovery

Feet Up; Legs Compressed: The final order of business is to get your legs elevated. The most ideal way is to fully lay down with your legs up, but if that's not possible than just get them up while seated. The goal here is to facilitate the return flow of blood to the heart, allowing your body to effectively process the damage you have done. This can be enhanced by adding some compression wear to the equation such as compression socks. You can find medical versions at your local pharmacy that are just effective as the high-dollar sport specific models (although they are admittedly less attractive).

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