5 Phases to Speed Up Your Running Recovery

Phase 4: 30 minutes to 3 hours Post Run

With the quick work of recovery well on it's way, it's time to look at the next major window of time. Whether you are racing again shortly or not for another day, your body will be seeking out a state of full recovery that you need to simultaneously support yet prevent from setting in. Once you hit full recovery you simply won't be able to bounce back and run to your potential as your legs will have packed it in.

More: 3 Steps to Long-Run Recovery

Proper Meal: Continue the feeding process with a really good healthy meal. Avoid lots of complex sugars (i.e. candy bar and soda is not a meal) as well as leafy greens (hard to process). Stick to the lean meats and pastas -- odds are you can find some flavor of Chicken Parmesan anywhere in the US, for example. Make this very next meal a big one. Primarily because your body needs it, but also because you won't want to eat a bigger meal later when it's closer to your next run.

Cat Nap: If you have the superpower of being able to nap, then now's the time to use it. Anything from 15 to 45 minutes will go a long way to making you mentally and physically refreshed. Timed right with your meal (above) you should be able to catch some quick winks. Bonus is that your legs can be elevated here as well.

Modest Movement: Knowing that you have more work coming up, do your best to avoid being stuck in any one single position: sitting, standing, even sleeping for extended periods of time (save for night!) will all make you stiff. Continue to facilitate recovery through some light walking and stretching. Your muscles will thank you when it's time to get going again.

More: Stretching for Runners

Phase 5: Preparing for the Next Stage

As the time to run again approaches, you'll need to be 100% ready even if you are planning to just get it done. Remember: The more running you tack on, the harder each individual session becomes.

Good Sleep: If you have an overnight break, make the most of it by getting some good sleep. It's the ultimate recovery tool—anything over seven hours will have you ready to rock and roll in your next session. If you can, keep your compression gear on while you sleep, and keep some water by your bedside.

More: Become a Better Runner in Your Sleep

The Extended Warm Up: Each and every stacked run means more fatigue. You aren't any less fit, it's just that your fitness is further and further from your reach. You can still run well, but it will require some focus and deliberate preparation.

  • Relay Option: If you are looking to go fast in each individual leg, then you'll need a solid 10 to 20 minute warm up. You can start very easily, but consider building up to a moderate pace and even including a few Strides to wake up those Fast Twitch muscles.
  • Long Run Option: The longer each segment of your event gets, the more important it becomes to build your warm up into the pacing of the individual run. In the Goofy Challenge, for example, you'll want the first 6 to 8 miles of the marathon on Day Two to be at a very modest pace before bumping the effort up. Remember, anyone can be a rock star when there's plenty of energy around; your goal is to still be strong at the finish when everyone else is fading!

Conclusion: Repeat for Success

Recovery is highly personal; there is no one right way or thing to do that helps all of us. Your best bet is to begin focusing on recovery right now, in your training. This will allow you to learn what does work for you (and when), ensuring that you'll be 100 percent ready to handle any spikes in your training or racing schedule. Good luck!

More: 7 Post-Race Recovery Tips

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