November 11, 2011

Running Recovery

This post was written by Andrea...

In the past year, Jake and I have really gotten serious about recovery. I personally believe that our efforts to stimulate recovery have made a HUGE difference in our abilities to bounce back quickly from hard workouts and increased mileage. The fact that we have made such significant improvements this year is enough proof for me that we are doing something right. Obviously, the actual running/training we are doing is the most important thing (see this post on our training philosophy outline)!!! But none of it would be possible without proper recovery methods.

There are several things we try to do as soon as possible after a workout... it usually goes in the order of: refuel, ice, compression gear, massage, and rest.

Refueling entails an electrolyte drink, protein, and carbs. For an electrolyte drink, we typically drink Hawaiian Punch Singles with Emergen-C as mentioned in our Training Staples post. Neither of us drink much (if at all) when we run, so rehydrating is especially important. Morning workouts are followed by eggs/egg casserole (see our post - Breakfast of Champions) and evening workouts are followed by a dinner of meat and veggies. Our goal is to always eat within 30 minutes of finishing a run to start the recovery process. We often do not include a specific carbohydrate side with meals because we are constantly eating them as snacks throughout the day.

Icing. This is definitely a challenge. Who wants to get in a tub of freezing water? I can't say that we have taken many ice baths, not nearly as many as we should. However, we use ice packs and an ice bucket a lot. Mueller ice packs are the best. You can wrap them around any part of your body that needs extra attention and pull it as tight as you need. These have been a life-saver with my injury "scares" - shin splints, back pain, tendonitis, etc. We will also fill up a garbage can full of freezing water (aka ice bucket) to ice the entire lower legs when necessary.

Mueller ice packs are very useful and convenient.

We are strong believers in compression gear. We wear compression socks/sleeves every day. Right after our morning runs, we put them on and wear them all day at our desk jobs. It seems to really prevent that "flatness" from sitting all day. I especially benefit from them after really long runs when I feel like all the blood is pooling in my lower legs.

Saucony Compression Sleeves

Saucony compression socks

I consider using "The Stick" as massage. I have had mine since I was a freshman in high school and love it. It helps to loosen up muscles before running, increase circulation, and reduce muscle soreness. I never go to any race without it. Occasionally, I will go to a massage therapist but I have yet to find someone that can do a good sports massage in Salt Lake. Suggestions would be appreciated. Jake is a baby when it comes to massaging and refuses to let anyone touch him.

The Stick

I cannot stress how important SLEEP is for athletes. There are a million excuses for why people don't get enough sleep, but the bottom line is that they don't make it a priority. Jake and I get 9-10 hours of sleep a night. I love sleeping - my body does not function well off less than 8 hours a night, even when I'm not training hard. We both go to bed around 8:30-9 at night. My thoughts are that they more sleep you get, the more recovery. Nothing good happens after 9pm anyways!

We try to take advantage of our recovery between runs, but we are nowhere near perfect. There is definitely room for improvement!

Does anyone have additional recovery suggestions?


  1. For me the biggest discovery was keeping moving after a long run and I don't mean just a cool down. The more I moved during the rest of the day, the less sore/stiff I would be the following day. Even an hour of sitting/inactivity makes a big difference in recovery.

  2. Ewa - I religiously do an afternoon shake out run (3-4 miles very easy) after a long run, even if I am running a 24 miler or something like that in the morning. It worth another whole blog post itself - the theory behind doubling up and why it works.

    Sometimes we run our workouts so hard, though, that we can barely function immediately afterwards! :-)

  3. The garbage can full of ice water is a great idea! I did find, though, that even a tub full of cold water (no ice) helped more than anything. Even just 5-10 minutes while the water is running helped. Sounds like you guys have a good routine going though!