One of the keys to successful marathon training is being able to recover quickly and fully after long, grueling runs. If your long runs are leaving you feeling sore and exhausted for days and this causes you to skip other workouts, you’re not going to arrive at the starting line prepared to run your best race. Try implementing one or both of the strategies below to speed your recovery after long runs.
Get a massage.
As you run, the muscle fibers in your legs are repetitively contracted. When you finish running, these muscle fibers often get “stuck” in this shortened position, which is part of what makes you feel so tight and sore. A good, thorough massage will help elongate the muscle fibers once again, loosening your legs and restoring your range of motion so you can get back to running sooner. Massage also helps increase circulation to the area, which will help flush toxins like lactic acid out of your muscles after a strenuous run.
For best results, seek out a massage therapist who offers trigger point massages and who has experience working with athletes. Trigger point massage is form of massage that focuses specifically on relieving muscle tension by using isolated pressure and release. Schedule the massage for a few hours after your long run, and you’ll find that you’re a lot less sore for the rest of the day and in the days that follow.
Try an ice bath.
Professional runners like Paula Radcliffe and Meb Keflezighi often use ice baths to help alleviate soreness after hard workouts, and you can, too. Immersing your legs in a tub of ice is thought to constrict blood vessels, reduce swelling, and reduce tissue breakdown — all of which can speed up your recovery time.
It’s important to note that an ice bath does not necessarily have to contain ice. The recommended temperature range is between 54 and 60 degrees — your water may come out of the tap at this temperature on a cooler day. Fill a tub with cold water, take a deep breath, and lower yourself in. Add some ice, if needed, to maintain the temperature between 54 and 60 degrees. Spend just 6 to 8 minutes in the tub, and then climb out.
It’s best to take an ice bath as soon after your workout as possible. If you plan on using massage and an ice bath to recover, be sure to give your muscles a few hours to warm up between the two.Learn More