How to Recover After A Long Run – 7 Tips For A Faster Recovery

If you've ever wanted to know how to recover after a long run then this post is for you. We're going to give you 7 amazing tips to banish muscle soreness after your next long workout.

How to Recover After A Long Run – 7 Tips For A Faster Recovery

India Lewis

There’s something ever so satisfying about walking through the door after a long run, a real sense of accomplishment. You go through the rest of your day feeling like a champion.

Then you wake up the next day feeling every muscle ache.

Say hello to the dreaded D.O.M.S – delayed onset muscle soreness.

Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer – read on to learn how you can banish D.O.M.S forever…

How to Recover After A Long Run

We’ve put together 7 science-backed tips that are all designed to help speed up your recovery.

1. Rehydrate

According to a recent article on RunnersConnect, your long run recovery strategy should begin with rehydrating within the first 20 minutes after your run.

Even on the easiest of long runs you’re going to lose a significant amount of fluid through sweat.

While it may seem obvious in summer months when you can feel and see yourself sweating, in winter months, it’s easy to think that you’re not losing sweating due to the combination of cold and layers of clothing.

Water is a good starting point, however, a good protein shake is better, helping to not just replace lost electrolytes but also helping to kick-start your bodies ability to recover.

2. Eat

So if your first priority is to rehydrate then your second should be to eat.

…but before you reach for a bag of chips and a candy bar you need to understand that not all food is created equal when it comes to aiding in your recovery…

…and what you eat will depend on what your current goals are…

Runners who are looking to lose weight should focus on eating a high protein, low carbohydrate meal while those runners looking to fuel their next run will look to consume a meal with a 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

3. Compression

Along with foam rolling (check out our guide to the best foam rollers for runners), we’re huge fans of runners using compression socks to help speed up their recovery after long runs and races (Ed. If you’re keen to get your hands on a pair, make sure you check out our guide to the best compression socks for running).

If you’ve read our are article “Why Use Compression Socks for Running”, you’ll know that the socks originally started out in the medical field and were used to help patients with limited mobility.

They worked so well at improving circulation (a key part of any recovery strategy) that it wasn’t long before athletes began pulling them on and started to feel the benefits.

4. Ice Bath

So this isn’t one that we’d normally recommend after EVERY long run but sometimes it’s exactly what you’ll need to speed up your recovery.

Aim to get fill the bathtub with water that’s around 15C (60F in freedom units) and the drop in a bag of ice.

Make sure that the ice has completely melted before getting in to avoid getting ice burn!

Now the hard part, slowly slide into the bath so that the water submerges your legs and covers the top of your hips.

The first time you try and ice bath you might only manage a few minutes but it’s certainly worth persevering with as the longer you spend, the more benefit you get.

As with everything, practice makes perfect and the more ice baths you take, the longer you’ll be able to stay in. Depending on how your body responds, 10 to 15 minutes is optimal for recovery.

Once the bath’s over, crank the shower and towel off. It’s normal for your legs to feel chilly for a few hours after a bath but the suffering is worth it for how fresh it will leave your muscles feeling.

5. Nap

Ask any professional runner what their training day looks like and you can guarantee that at some point during the day they’ll take a nap!

A 2010 study titled “The effect of prior endurance training on nap sleep patterns” found that short, 20 minute naps following a training session have “…a potential role as a valuable recovery tool following endurance exercise”.

6. Warm Bath With Epsom Salt

A warm bath with Epsom salt is one of those mythical recovery tips that seems to have been passed down from club mate to club mate but nobody seems to know how or why it works – it just does!

Personally, we can’t help but feel that with a lack of solid scientific research, this is nothing but a placebo, admittedly a placebo that does seem to help relieve some aches and pains following a tough long run

7. Stretch

Okay, so while the jury may still be out on the benefits of post-run stretching, for the sake of fairness and fullness we’ve decided to include stretching on our list of post long run recovery tips.

The big benefit of stretching post-run is that your muscles are already warm and the blood is pumping so there’s a smaller chance that you’re going to pull a muscle.

A good stretching routine should focus on all the major running muscles (quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips) and aim to promote the blood flow through muscles which help with recovery.

A better alternative to stretching is to spend some time with your foam roller to help iron out any tight spots in your legs and to improve circulation.

For those looking for how to recover after a long run by stretching, the following video might be extremely useful:

Brooks Running