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How to recover after a long run

This past weekend featured the last really long run until the marathon (only 19 days away). On Saturday, I ran 10 miles and on Sunday I ran 20 miles. That was a lot of joggling. The weather was beautiful, my legs felt great, and both runs have given me great confidence in my ability to run this upcoming marathon.

I was thumbing through September 2006 issue of Runner’s World and found some great tips on how to recover after a long run. Here are the best ones and some they didn’t include. Follow them after any run of over 15 miles. You’ll feel better.

  1. Drink a sports drink. There’s a reason they put Gatorade stands along race routes and at the finish line. It replenishes lots of what you lost. If you’d rather skip the sports drink, take in 16 ounces of water or more. This joggler drinks at least 32 ounces of liquids after a long run.
  2. Put on dry clothes. After a marathon or long run you may get the shivers. I know I do. Putting on dry clothes is the best way to prevent this. Personally, I like to have a joggler t-shirt ready to change into. Don’t forget to change your socks too. This will help prevent blisters.
  3. Eat something. If you can stomach it (sometimes you can’t) eat something after your run. I like to have a candy bar but that’s just me.
  4. Take a shower. You smell after a long run. I know you don’t think so but you do. So hop in the shower to wash off your stench and to help your body readjust its temperature. If you catch a chill a warm shower is the best way to get rid of it.
  5. Take a nap. Once you sit down on a comfortable couch you won’t even have to try to sleep, you just will. I’m not really a big fan of naps but they are effective for making you feel better after a long run. Even if you don’t sleep laying down for half an hour watching an episode of The Greatest American Hero is a great way to recover.
  6. Self-massage. If you have sore muscles you can lightly rub and knead them yourself. This can make you feel better and should prevent soreness the next day.

Some of the things they suggested that I didn’t list include stretching (I’m not a big believer in it) and soaking in ice (I haven’t figured out a convenient way to do this). You might try any of these to aid in your recovery.

Incidentally, after my 20 miler on Sunday my recovery consisted of taking a 40 minute walk, chasing after 4 year olds for half an hour and jumping in a trampoline for an hour. I was wiped out on Sunday night! But my legs felt great yesterday. That’s the important part.

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