- Within five minutes of finishing, eat a small recovery meal of protein and simple sugars. A glass of chocolate milk and a piece of fruit work great.
- After a half-hour, focus on hydration, and begin consuming 16 to 32 ounces of water. This is particularly important if it's hot out.
- Also within a half-hour, complete a runner-specific core routine that helps you warm-down properly, correct imbalances, and strengthen your body to withstand the impact forces of running.
- Within about an hour, eat a full meal focusing on protein, low glycemic index carbohydrates, and healthy fats like olive oil or avocado. Basically, eat real food and avoid anything processed.
- After your meal, take a shower and start mentally recovering. If you can, try to relax and read or watch TV (this is also a good time period to continue hydrating).
- If you have the time, take a nap. This is when your body begins to repair the damage from your long run. Sleep is the ultimate recovery tool in your toolbox, so use it as often as possible.
- When you wake up, go for a short walk or do some easy mobility exercises to help you loosen up. Active recovery always beats passive recovery and the added blood flow will give your recovery a boost.
After several long runs, this routine will become a habit, and you'll consider it part of your workout. Indeed, recovery is so complementary to running that you can't have one without the other. Without rest, and the proper strategies for that rest, you won't absorb your hard training, and your performances will flat line.
Worse, you may get hurt. Too many runners under-recover and are always nursing chronic aches and pains that derail their running. As soon as one injury feels better, another one pops up. Enhanced recovery is your best tool to stay healthy (for more on running healthy, join the free injury prevention e-course).
This recovery routine can help you bounce back from long runs and get ready for your next workout. Make it a habit, and reap the rewards.marathon.