Long Run Recovery

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Marathon Coalition runners ran 19 miles on the Boston Marathon course yesterday.  We ran from the Mile 20 mark @ Centre Street and Commonwealth to just beyond Mile 11 and back.  Without the wind it would have been an absolutely perfect day.  We take a step back in our mileage next week to just 12 miles.  It’s amazing that we only have one long run remaining (20 miles on March 26th) before we begin to taper.

During the run, I encountered so many of the runners that Lori and I coached while at Team In Training.  It brought back years of amazing memories. 

It’s important to remain focused upon completing a long run.  Too many runners surrender to the distance once they take their final step of running.  However, the next several hours, and even days, will play an instrumental role in your recovery.  Here are my recommendations for proper and effective recovery from a long run:

  1. Gradually allow your heart rate to return to its normal level by walking for several minutes.  Continuing to move when your body and mind are begging you to stop will serve you well.
  2. Change into dry and comfortable clothing and begin to eat, hydrate and stretch.  Chocolate milk is the best post-run recovery drink as it provides the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and protein.  Other great choices include V8 and pickle juice to replace sodium and other important electrolytes.
  3. I prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bagel with peanut butter, banana or pretzels after a run.
  4. Thoroughly using the stick and foam roller while eating and drinking are highly recommended.
  5. An ice bath is the master link in the chain of success.  This can actually be a bigger challenge than the long run but you’ll soon become a believer once you’ve attempted it.  In the summer you can spray your legs down with a garden hose or, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a stream or the ocean, you can simply submerge yourself after your run.
  6. Taking an afternoon nap is the perfect capstone to an ideal long-run. 
  7. One complete rest day followed by a day or two of cross-training will allow your body to fully recover.
  8. Pay close attention to any persistent aches or pains and ice accordingly.

You should find considerable comfort in your running accomplishment.  Long runs are the cornerstone of a successful marathon training program.  Ironically it’s the attention you give to the non-running activities that determines your success throughout training and on marathon day.  Focusing exclusively on the act of running and neglecting the long-run recovery suggestions is a recipe for disappointment and failure.

Develop your long run recovery plan and you’ll approach the starting line with absolute confidence.

  1. Sheree Dunwell says:

    Thank you for this post! Yesterday was my first exerience with the ice bath, and today I feel unbelievably fresh! A little soreness, which is to be expected, but wow!

    I am shocked at how mobile I am!

  2. Hello Sheree,

    I’m so glad that you’re doing so well after a challenging run yesterday. We just have two week before our FINAL long run. You’ll be even more surprised how well you feel after a 3 week taper.

    Your Coach,


  3. Mark Duffield says:

    Hi Rick,

    Hope your ankle is good to go. Remember R-I-C-E.

    I chose to go and jog through a 5k this morning with my wife and daughter. I took it very slowly. My legs feel great this afternoon. I really feel like this short, slow recovery run , along with yesterday’s ice bath, helped my legs to feel as good as they do right now.


    • Hello Mark,

      I’m glad that your 5k with your wife and daughter went well this morning. It’ll be helpful to only run 12 next week as we prepare for our final long run on March 26th. You should feel very confident about your preparation so far.

      My ankle is just a little tender today but I’m sure it’ll be fine in the next few days.


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