Whether you’ve run a marathon or a long training run, here’s how to recover better - and faster!
It’s marathon season! But even if you haven’t run a marathon this spring, you need to know the best ways to recover from long runs.
“Long” is a relative term. For some of us, it’s 26.2 miles under race conditions. For others, it’s hitting a 5km milestone in training.
Help your legs recover with these 6 home-treatments that you can do today.
#1 Refuel properly
Did you know that female runners burn around 100 calories per mile (depending on your body size)? That’s a lot of energy! So if you’ve run a long distance, you need to help your body recover by replenishing it with the right nutrients. Your body needs protein (to help repair muscles), carbohydrates (to replenish glycogen), and iron-rich foods. Base your meals around lean protein, leafy green vegetables, and root vegetables, rice, or potatoes to get your body back on track.
Even if you don’t feel sweaty, you will have lost a lot of fluid on any long run. But it’s not just water you’ll need to replace. Be sure to replenish salts and minerals, too. The best way to do this is to pop a electrolyte tablet in your water after your run. If you are depleted in key minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron, you could suffer with cramps and insomnia. Not what you need after a long run!
#3 Keep moving
You don’t need to get straight back to running, but it’s important to keep your body moving. After a long race or run, schedule in some gentle recovery exercise. Nice ideas include an outdoors walk, gentle bike ride, or a swim. The key is keeping your body moving, without stress on your joints. Make it something you’ll enjoy.
#4 The best stretches
Should you stretch after a long run? Yes, absolutely. But it’s important to get it right. If you’ve ever done yoga or Pilates, you’ll be on the right track. Think about long holds which stretch out key muscles. Focus on your back, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Twists help ease out aches and pains and give your muscles a stretch, too.
#5 Look after your feet
Your feet are probably feeling the strain of all your recent long runs. Show them some love with these home treatments. Give them a soak before bed, by dissolving Epsom Salts in warm water. Add a few drops of an essential oil: try lavender, orange, or peppermint. Check your feet for blisters, sore skin, or damaged nails. Keep cuticles and hang nails under control. Then massage some hand cream into your feet and put on a pair of socks overnight.
#6 Epsom salts (and not just in a bath)
Epsom salts (magnesium and sulphate) are a wonderful, and pretty cheap, long-run relaxer. Add a hefty amount to a bath (plus some essential oils if you like) and soak for 20-30 minutes. The great thing about Epsom salts is they get the key minerals straight into your body through your skin. A magnesium salt bath before bed will make you sleep really well, which is another boost for recovery. Buy basic Epsom salts - no need for anything fancy!
Keep these recovery tools in mind and enjoy a pain-free long running season - and maybe some PBs along the way!