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Proper Recovery for Distance Running


Are you experiencing tight muscles, a sore back, or heavy feet? You’re running all your training miles, but you just never feel 100%. You’re not alone. One of the culprits of this is the lack of a recovery routine.

Distance running can take a toll on your body. Having run three marathons and countless half marathons myself, I have experienced the importance of recovery first hand. When I focus on recovery and make a conscious effort to do the following six things, my body feels better and my running times improve.

The 6 Keys to Quality Recovery

  1. Stretch after every run. I am the worst at stretching, but recently I have been making a conscious effort to do it more. When you run, muscles tighten and shorten. Stretching for 5-10 minutes (or more!), can return your muscles to their pre-run state. Loose muscles help prevent injury and keep your running stride in correct form.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Hopefully you are hydrating every 15-20 minutes while you are on the run, but even if you are, you need to continue to hydrate after your run. Drink a beverage with electrolytes, such as Nuun, post-run and continue sipping water throughout the day.
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  4. Eat a mix of carbs, fat and protein immediately after the run. When you eat within 30 minutes of completing the run, your muscles accept the fuel easily and put it to immediate use. In fact, multiple studies have shown that the sooner you fuel, the better your performance will be in your next workout. Some of my favorite foods for refueling are:
    – Fruit & veggie smoothies
    – Toast and peanut butter
    – Omelet with veggies
  5. Foam roll or massage. I would love to get a massage every day, much like professional athletes do, but my budget won’t allow it. So I do the next best thing and bust out my foam roller. Be sure to roll your calves, quads, glutes and upper back. Focus on each area for 1-2 minutes.
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  7. Soak in an ice-bath. This is my least favorite recovery tool. However, when I get the guts to sit in a tub full of icy water for a few minutes, my muscles definitely thank me for it later. My favorite tip is to bundle up your upper half with a hat and sweatshirt and sip a cup of hot tea to keep as warm as possible as you soak for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Sleep 10-12 hours. Sleep is probably one of the most important parts of recovery. In fact, without sleep your recovery and performance will undoubtedly decline. You know how it feels when you don’t get sleep, eyes heavy, feet feel like lead. As an athlete, your body needs even more sleep to recover fully. So instead of the recommended 8 hours of sleep, go for 10-12 for increased energy and recovery.

Proper recovery helps your body not only feel better after the race you just ran, but also prepares your body for the next big run or event. Add a recovery routine to your entire training program, not just post race, and you will see and feel the difference.

To get $5 off registration for either the half or full Eugene Marathon race, use my discount code AMB2017KP

Happy recovering!

Karen Poole

Location: Ukiah, CA.

I am a runner; RRCA certified running coach, personal trainer and fitness writer for the 8fit app. I discovered long distance running after graduating college and needing something to fill my time post-collegiate basketball. My world revolves around fitness and spandex is my wardrobe! I believe in inspiring others to find their best self through fitness and running and truly believe anyone can be a runner. I love helping others find their inner warrior and discover a love of running. I have had the privilege of working with Nike and Athleta as a running ambassador and would love to connect with anyone interested in discovering their inner athlete! My racing history includes 3 full marathons, numerous half marathons, 10K’s and 5K’s, as well as one hood to coast relay!

Karen Poole