If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through long runs and marathon training, it’s how I like to recover after a long run. Short runs, like a five or ten k requires a
slightly vastly different routine than that of a 20+ km run. Not having the time to do my usual recovery session recently, I realised what I like to do and how my body works.
A short run requires light stretching, a protein shake and I’m good to go. Nothing more than that.
A long run works the body and mind in a deeper, harder way, so need a more intense variety of recovery.
I like to take my time and let my body cool down, relax. Then refuel and refreshen. From a long run it takes up to 2 hours before I eat properly and at least another hour after that before I have the energy to do more than be a couch potato. I let my body relax, and I have learnt to make sure I do it properly.
I know what I am like if I don’t recover properly, headaches prevail and general grumpiness. Not nice for anyone in the direct vicinity. Myself either. I dislike how it feels. I may not always like the pain on a long run but I do love the feeling I have after.
My routine goes something like this.
Finish my run. Spend ten minutes chilling, walking and letting my body relax. Let the shakes in my legs calm down. Make a protein shake. Stretch and drink. Eat a banana. Chill out a bit more. Drink water. Shower. And somewhere around 1 1/2 – 2 hours post run I am ready to eat properly.
This was really put to the test when I did my 25km run. What I thought would be an ‘easy’ run was a lot harder than I thought, and my post run routine was stretched to its limits. I passed, but not without more aches and pain than I wanted.
The week after when I had my 30km I also had another little helper. Proper fuel in my camelbak. Water is great and definitely required but on long runs you need to do more than just hydrate. Replacing the salts you lose are important and help the body to keep moving. Tailwind is my new best friend. While I didn’t drink all 2 litres of it, I was so much better off afterwards. Less tired, more energy, and no headaches. I will be using this on my marathon and any time I do more than 15kms. If it works I’m going to use it.
I had to explain my recovery routine to my husband prior to my 30k. I’d said that I would be up and out the door at 5am, allowing four hours to do the run. He then said, but that’s only mid morning. And so I explained what I do and the time frame it takes up. He seemed to understand then why I was happy to get up that early on my day off. I will be up that early if it means I have more time to do other things later. (Even if that day it was veg out on the couch and watch a movie or two and eat all the food I could stuff in my mouth).
My recovery session after my marathon this weekend may be slightly different again, but hopefully as much the same as usual. It’s a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from home and I have my family with me as my support crew (plus its Father’s Day here), and it’s a race which means meeting up with friends (more like running acquaintances) and being around the general atmosphere of race day. Then the drive home. At least I won’t have to drive at all.
recovery is important no matter what distance you run, or how hard you do it. Fuel, hydration, rest and stretching.
Now I must head off and make up my list of what I need to take with me, I can’t be forgetting the important things. Especially not with a 3am get up on the day.
Happy running and safe recovery.