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Finishing a long run is one of the greatest feelings. In the same breath, it’s crucial to have a proper recovery strategy in order to let that great feeling continue throughout your day. Here are some key recovery tips:
We owe it to our hard-working bodies to put the right foods back in after a long run. Don’t go charging for the sweets and treats just because you ran 12 miles. (Don’t worry—you can still have them later!) First, it’s essential to replace those carbohydrates you used as fuel during your run. According to Leslie Bonci, Sports Nutritionist at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, carbs are stored in the muscles and liver. Once they are used up during a run, it’s important for your body to get them back. Certain carbs, such as bananas, berries, rice, bread and pasta, are all great foods to help recharge. In addition, protein is vital after a long run. Anything from fish, beans or even a steak will do the trick! If you can’t immediately scarf down a full protein-packed meal, reach for a protein bar to hold you over. If you’re planning a long run that day, it’s helpful to prepare a meal before you go. Trust us, your body will thank you for having the right foods waiting for you when you get back.
Remember: refueling with liquids is also imperative after a long run. Along with hydrating yourself before the run, this should be part of your post-run routine as well, especially when it comes to electrolytes. According to Food Editorial, downing a sports drink after your run is best because it contains sodium, which is key in order for your body to make up for salt lost in your sweat. Chocolate milk is another excellent drink choice after a long run—yes, we said chocolate! According to Bonci, chocolate milk has a significant amount of carbs and protein that your body uses up during a long run. It also helps speed up the recovery process. Regardless of which drink you reach for, continue to hydrate throughout the day, not just as soon as you get back.
There are many stretches you can do to alleviate soreness after a long run. In addition to “common” stretches, I find it extremely helpful to put my legs up against the wall; myth or not, this seems to drain the lactic acid out and alleviate the tired feeling your gams have after a hard or long effort. According to Meghan Hampton, Assistant Director of Sports Medicine at Fairfield University, “It is important to stretch the muscles after a run for flexibility and to maintain good muscle control. The tighter the muscles are, the more likely you can get injured, or for it to affect your running.” By stretching, you’re also increasing blood flow. So after that next long run, don’t go right for the couch—give yourself time to loosen up. Then maybe flip on Netflix while you stretch out.