Whew, that makes me tired just typing it. Actually, we had a GREAT run. My goal was to average a 10:30 pace and lookey look what we managed to do. Do the math and that's exactly a 10:30 average pace. (you really don't need to do the math but for some reason my Garmin no longer displayed the average pace)
Couldn't have done that if we tried. Well, er, actually, we did try to do that and were quite successful. So huh. I love being on pace! Of course the weather was just absolutely perfect today. It was in the mid 50's when we started and only warmed up a little bit as the sun rose. No wind, very little humidity. Those are some happy girls there. It was Boy Mom's (purple shirt) first 18 miler and I'm so proud of her incredible progress! She is really rocking marathon training!
Long ago I posted about how to prepare for a long run. Thought it might be prudent (if not timely) to follow up with how to recover from a long run! No matter if your long run is 5 miles or 30, the same basic principles apply.
First, I get my stretch on. Google stretching for runners, check out Runner's World and you'll find a plethora of great post-run stretches. Of course, there are varied theories about stretching. But I'm a stretcher. Hey, it feels good if nothing else. We all have different gaits and all get wonky in different muscle groups. I have my faves, but fiddle around and you'll find the stretch that stretches what is tight on you. One of my faves is the pidgeon pose but that takes a towel or grass and moving off the concrete. The parking lot is an okay place to stretch, just make sure you aren't A. Flashing anyone or B. Going to get run over. Cautious stretching y'all!
Some people swear by protein drinks or sports drinks. We all know I'm a big fan of chocolate milk. It's supposed to have the perfect balance of fat, protein and sugars. (just don't get fat free or that knocks the whole fat thing out of the equation) I've read that you are supposed to consume your chocolate milk within 30 minutes of a hard run for optimal effect. So I bring mine with me. Like stretching, there are preferences, but I sure do love it!
Of course, you must refuel. And celebrate your victory. Since it was Boy Mom's first 18 miler, we headed out for breakfast. I consumed a scrumptious egg & cheese sandwich on whole grain toast from Einstein Brothers. Mmm. Fuely.
Sometimes I take an ice bath. I haven't recently, but that doesn't mean I won't again. Meb and Ryan are always Tweeting about their ice baths. If it's good enough for these two champions, then it's good enough for me. Here's the secret; you must get in an empty tub. Fill it up with cold water around you, then add the ice. If you try to step in a full tub of ice your heart just might stop. Brr! Stay dressed, some parts were never meant to get that cold, and I like to wear a hat and put a towel around my neck. Keep your hands out of the water and that will help keep you warmer too. Why is this beneficial? It's like icing your entire lower body all at once! Keeps inflammation down and speeds up muscle repair. I'm a fan. Just don't stay in for longer than 20 minutes or you could get frostbit - no joke!
Once you are out of the frigid water, resist the urge to hop in a warm shower or you'll undo all that ice work you just endured. Wait about a half hour after getting out to let the cold bath continue to work. Then by all means, hop in a warm shower! Ooh, getting clean never felt so good!
Now, this is just personal preference, but I like to jump in some comfy jammies after my bath. I mean, who doesn't want flannel caressing those sore muscles? I then stretch some more while my muscles are still all loosey goosey warm from my shower. Usually while watching HGTV. Below is one of my favorite hamstring stretches. Prop your legs straight up against a wall with your booty as close to the wall as you can get it. Hold this for 15-20 minutes. (see the need for HGTV?) Just be very careful when you get up as all the blood will rush away from your noggin!
Then I move on to my best friend and worst enemy, the foam roller. (have you caught on yet that recovery is a loooong process?) No Meat Athlete did a great post on this a while back. Spend some time on this poor man's deep tissue massage and you'll have tears. Hurts so good. But lemme tell you, I've seen a real difference in my soreness since I've been foam rolling. As in, if I put in a good 20-30 minutes of foam rolling - I'm not sore the next day. I swear by this thing. You can find them pretty affordably all over. I got mine at Target on the cheap. Although I have recently spotted a few pink foam rollers, I'll resist the urge to splurge until I need a new one. They do eventually lose their shape and need to be replaced. (I mean hey, you are rolling around on them with your entire body weight...)
Once my torture foam rolling is done, I'll install myself on the sofa to ice my knees and hip. Not everyone will need this step. Just girls like me with wonky joints. This is a good opportunity to have Hubs bring you things like a cat or lunch. While watching more HGTV or a Teen Mom episode. (like I did today!)
Y'all have heard me brag on my leg hugs before. Actually, they are Zensah calf compression sleeves. I really thought it was all hype. I now adore them. I've only ever worn them for recovery - usually during my nap, more on that later - but often to work under my trousers! Today I wore them during my long run. Paula does it. Why not? I was worried they might make me hot. They did a little, but nothing unbearable. I'm not sure if it made a difference and I'm not sure I'll try it again. But I dooo love them for post run. Makes my legs feel all loved and supported. Lastly, my favorite thing about recovery is a good nap. Don't make the rookie mistakes I used to make. I would shower and then climb right into that biscuit for a long Winter's nap. You gotta get your stretch on first. Or else you'll wake up all gnarly and unable to walk. True story.
Photo from the Pottery Barn, thanks!
But after 18 miles and all that recovery work, I do enjoy a nice Saturday afternoon snooze. Hey, getting up at 4:30 and running that far is hard work!
And that my fair readers, is how this Pink Girl recovers from a long run.
What are your favorite recovery tips?