Top Running Recovery Tips

Natalie Cecconi
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How to Recover After a Run

If you are new to running you might be tempted to get back out there the day after a race or a long training session. However, this is probably not the best idea.

We cover recovery in an entire chapter in RunnersConnect Insider. So in this post, I’m just going to address some of the most common misconceptions about recovery.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered in this post, there’s a good chance it’s answered in the Recovery Chapter.

When do I start running again?

To determine when you are ready to start running again, you first need to figure out if the run you just completed was a hard or a challenging one. Take a look at the table below and answer the following questions:

Table from: Dr. Philip Maffetone, “Going Farther and Faster.”

How did I feel about my speed? What did I feel after the hard workout?

Enjoyable – That’s good! You probably did a challenging run, but it was within your abilities. Don’t worry, just think about your next run, and then plan for it with a little bit lower intensity.

Immediately After a Run

After a run, always reward yourself with a healthy and nutritious snack.

Something like a Protein Recovery Smoothie or a Recovery Bar.

Your muscles are craving protein, and you need to give them something right after your run.

Also, drink a big glass of cold water right after your run.

To speed up recovery, you might also want to consider a refreshing electrolyte-replacement beverage like Propel Fitness Water….

Propel has a patented combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes that work together to help replenish your body’s stores of carbs and electrolytes so you can stay energized and hydrated, longer.

Monica A. Miranda, a running enthusiast and marathoner from San Diego, Calif., says that she looks for Propel Fitness Water because it’s “made with real fruit flavors, is refreshing, and I can drink it during or after my workout, depending on the temperature.”

After you’ve had your snack, drink, which is in sync with your activity, and rehydrated yourself, it’s time to roll.

The first thing to do is to roll out your running muscles.

Several Hours After a Run

When it comes to recovery, there’s no substitute for a good stretch session. You may be lucky enough at this point to be able to barely hobble around. But if you have any flexibility left in you at this point, use it! Stretch your legs, hamstrings, quads and calves. Stretch your IT band and Achilles tendon as well.

If your lower body is too tight or sore to move around right away, then focus on your upper body. Stretch your neck, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, and back.

If you have any joint pain after moving around a bit, take some time to try and find out if it’s tendinitis or just soreness. If the pain is aggravated no matter how little you’ve moved your leg or joint, you may be dealing with tendinitis.

Other Recovery Tips

As we have already discussed, there is no substitute for hard training. If you want to go faster or farther, you must train and train hard. However, there is a clear link between proper recovery and performance improvement. It’s important to note that there are a lot of different ways to go about this. One way to recover quickly is to increase your fluid intake, avoid alcohol, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and stay well-hydrated. Another is to find the right foods and supplements to promote healing, speed up tissue repair, and strengthen the immune system. Finally, we can break recovery down to five distinct categories:

Mental and Emotional: From the moment you finish your last rep and cross that finish line, your body gets busy repairing, replenishing, and rebuilding vital systems. In order to recover well, your mind and emotions must be in harmony with your body’s needs. Serious training places a great deal of stress on the body and mind. If uneasiness and anxiety linger, they can have a negative impact on your ability to recover. In addition, stress-free rest and relaxation, a positive mental attitude, and a recovery environment that’s conducive to sleep are all factors that can help you recover and adapt to training.

Recovery Runs

Recovery runs are used for helping the body to recover from hard training or racing. For most people, running a full distance after a hard training session or hard race is not recommended. This is because the hard training session itself created a large micro-trauma in your muscles and your body needs a period of rest to recover from that trauma until it has healed and adapted to the stress.

By setting aside a day to do a recovery run, you allow your body to adapt to the stress created by the hard training session. Recovery runs will also help to flush out the lactic acid build-up in your muscles, reduce the inflammation and speed up the healing process.

You can also do a cross-training session alongside your recovery run. Running is a sport that puts a lot of emphasis on the body’s joints. By pairing a recovery run with another activity like a spin class or swimming, you allow your joints to rest, and you can still get an effective workout. Instead of suffering from sore knees or damaging your joints by running after a hard session or race, follow your hard session with a day of cross-training or swimming.


(Electrical Muscle Stimulation) Recovery

Sore legs? You might be a candidate for some leg treatments.

If you’re sore after a long run or you’ve been experiencing tightness that just won’t go away no matter how many ice baths you take, an electrical muscle stimulation device might be for you.

EMS’s have been shown to help speed muscle recovery and reduce soreness both during and after a long run. Not only that, they can also stimulate blood circulation to the muscles, which can help improve overall muscle health.

Ice Bath

Every athlete, after a workout or in between sessions, needs to recover their body for the next one. How should you do that?

What many people are not aware of is that recovery tools & processes are much more important than workout and training sessions.

Your body needs time to heal and strengthen itself; a lot of the recovery time is spent during sleep.

If you’ve ever been sore – lethargic – or just not recovered after exercising, there are a few things you can do to improve your recovery. One of the best ways to recover is to use an ice bath or compression socks after a hard workout. It’s a deep freeze for your body or a rush of blood to your muscle groups … whichever technique concerns you.

You can also prepare your body for the next workout with proper nutrition and supplements. If you are just getting into your workout routine, it’s hard to tell how much food and supplements you need to eat or take.

I’ve tried numerous recovery methods – none of which have been all that effective.

Hot Shower

After working out, your muscles are in a heated state and opening the water circulation through a hot shower for a few minutes will help to flush all the lactic acid.

You have probably experienced it yourself, after a long run or hard workout, you feel stiff and sore?

A hot shower is like an oil massage for muscles.

Don’t elaborate just hop under the shower and massage yourself.

This will help you to eliminate lactic acid, increase the body’s immunity power, alleviate joint fatigue, stimulate blood circulation, and eliminate inflammation.


Eating carbs before you work out may provide you with energy, but eating the right kinds of carbs can also aid in recovery. Carbohydrates located in whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal have the ability to convert to glycogen, which is stored in your muscles.

According to nutritionist Ray Sahelian, M.D., “Fatigue from exercise is reduced more by eating complex carbs than by eating simple carbs.” Complex carbs also help improve blood flow, which can speed up recovery.

Post workout protein is also essential, since it provides amino acids that help build muscle, especially if you are lifting weights. Milk contains both carbohydrate and protein, making it a perfect recovery food.


As you enjoy a few drinks after a long run, you may think nothing of what alcohol does to your body. But then, the next day you wake up sore and stiff!

Let’s look at the facts.

  • Alcohol is a known dehydrating agent. Because of the way it drains water from the body, alcohol can cause extreme fatigue and cramps.
  • Alcohol is known to cause nausea, which is caused by the stomach’s reaction to the toxins in alcohol. This can halt or slow down digestion and cause stomach upset.
  • Many people will ignore the warning signs of dehydration because they think they are hungover. This can cause severe dehydration, which can be very dangerous.
  • Finally, alcohol increases the acid levels in the stomach, which is not good for the enamel on your teeth.

Alcohol has been shown to decrease your coordination, your reaction time, and when mixed with caffeine, can spell trouble for the athlete.

It’s all too easy to drink over the recommended limit of alcohol based on your weight.

The fluid intake guidelines associated with alcohol are the following:

  • For women, no more than 1 standard drink per day.
  • For men, no more than 2 standard drinks per day.


After running longer distances, it is always great to allow your body to recover well. Doing so allows you to feel your best for your next workout.

Here are our 5 top tips to help your body recover after a run:

  • Stay off your feet and rest.
  • Make Your Bed a Spa
  • Keep Track of Your Nutrition
  • Take regular massages to help recover
  • Take a Cold Bath