Long-distance running is a rewarding activity that elevates your physical and mental health. However, prolonged running can lead to fatigue and injuries. That makes us wonder how elite marathoners do it and feel so good about it afterward? Well, the trick is planning out a recovery schedule that suits your fitness level. A good long-distance recovery plan will reduce how long it will take to recover from a marathon.
Before heading out on your long-run, plan what you are going to do after the workout. Start with nutrition and post-workout stretches followed by the activities for the rest of the day.
Keeping this plan in your mind, or writing your plan on paper, is the first step towards great recovery. Following a balanced plan will help you reduce leg cramps while running and muscle soreness, allowing you to get back into training faster than usual.
Keep reading to find out what a typical plan should look like?
Hydration and Nutrition
Recovery after general long runs, or marathon training runs should incorporate a good amount of hydration and nutrition. Think of this as fuel to your body. Without proper fuel, the body would not be able to recover quickly.
Even after you finish your long run, your body is still burning essential nutrients. Therefore, your plan should include immediate hydration after you finish. Water, electrolytes, and isotonic gels are just some of the recommended ways of replenishing the lost nutrients. You may not feel the effects immediately, but give it a few minutes and you will start feeling the positive effects of hydration!
Within 30 minutes of your long run, taking in solids is important for an effective recovery. This does not mean you can ‘junk out’ on whatever food you like. Food rich in fibre, protein, and carbohydrates is the way to go. Oats, fish, chicken, beef, eggs, boiled vegetables, and fruits are just some examples.
Taking in the right food will allow for smooth digestion, along with quick replenishment of protein and carbohydrates in the body. This is one of the best methods on how to reduce muscle soreness after running since it repairs damaged muscles, helps in flushing out lactic acid, and aids in maintaining a healthy blood flow.
Having a good nutrition plan can only do so much. Recovery after a 10-mile race, or even after a 7-mile easy long-run requires you to stretch key muscle groups. This helps keep the muscles loose and flush out the lactic acid.
Many stretches can be performed after a good long run. However, it is best to focus on the muscle groups that are worked the most. The calf muscles, the hamstring, glutes, IT bands, and hip flexors are the main groups that have to be stretched right after a long run. Always perform these stretches a few minutes after your workout. This is to avoid muscle stiffness and soreness.
Make sure you incorporate the use of recovery tools such as SPRYNG to get even better results. Using this muscle recovery tool will help in improving the recovery period of the body. The active compression helps in pumping out pooled blood in the legs, aiding in a healthy circulatory system. This further reduces the swelling in the legs and helps prevent injuries.
If after doing all that, you are still asking the question ‘how long does it take to recover after a half marathon ?’, it means you have not scheduled a correct recovery workout. In other words, your plan should also include the workouts you are going to do after a good long run.
Recovery workouts are important, as it keeps the muscles active, but does not exert pressure on them. A typical recovery workout, especially for a marathon runner, would be a very easy 5-6mile run. Just enough to only maintain the cardiovascular fitness without burning out the fatigued muscles.
If you are tired of running, try mixing it up with some easy cycling, or swim sessions, as these are great alternatives for recovery workouts. Remember that your recovery workouts should be based on your personal fitness level and on how you feel.
The ideal recovery plan may seem complicated and too much to digest at first. However, the more you do it, the more you will be able to understand your body; and also adjust the plan accordingly. This will result in a faster recovery period for your next long run or race.