After an ultra-marathon race, we need to make sure we recover properly by doing stretching sessions, foam rolling, sports massage, physio session, according to our body and muscles issues. After long-distance runs, but not ultra-distances, a recovery run within 24-48 hours is part of a beneficial recovery. After an ultra-marathon, to take at least 2-3 days off running is crucial to support the proper recovery, and a post ultra-recovery run should be no longer than 5-6K to make sure the body heals and recovers well. For a half-marathon or full marathon, the recovery run distance should be no longer than 5-8K.
What are Recovery Runs?
Recovery runs follow intense long-distance runs or races. They are performed within 24-48 hours after a long run. A recovery run is defined as relatively short, easy-pace run. It is just one level up from a rest day. Recovery runs help enhance recovery, they flush out lactic acid build up, which helps prevent onset muscle soreness and speed up recovery. The easy pace, slow movement recovery run, will help make stiff legs feel better.
Benefits of a Recovery Run
Running in a fatigued state after a long-distance run will challenge your body and help it go to the next level. It also trains your brain to run in that state of fatigue, which would be helpful during the last stages of long-distance runs or races.
Increases your running fitness level.
Build up mental endurance.
Allows your body to make repairs and recover faster which will help you run at the same or higher level for your next long-distance run.
Increases blood flow to help repair tight, sore muscles, and reduce muscle pain.
Recovery Run Pace and Distance
1. Pace- According to your personal running pace, the recovery run pace should be between 5:30-6:00 mins/km. Running slowly will reactivate your blood flow and your muscles to help healing. Running at a faster pace will cause more muscle issues due to higher impact and muscle tightness. The recovery run should be done at 65-70% of your maximum heart rate.
2. Distance- For ultra-marathon recovery run, the recommended distance is 5-6km 48-72 hours post-run. For half-marathon or full-marathon the recommended distance is 5-8km 24-48 hours post-run. Another option is not to focus on the distance but run at a nice comfortable pace no longer than 25-40 mins. Make sure you can keep a conversation going without having breathing issues.
Recovery Tips- Before the Recovery Run
To make sure you rest and recover is essential. Depending on your long-run distance, you need to listen to your body and take 1-3 rest days. And during your rest days make sure you focus on proper recovery.
Perform a stretching session daily, to do some light stretches after the run or race, and 10-20 mins stretching sessions during the following days will help with recovery.
Perform a foam rolling session before your stretching to help loosen the muscles, ligaments and help release the fascia.
Eat meals rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (helps absorb the nutrients), and take your supplements.
Wear compression socks or tights.
Take a nice bath.
Get a good night sleep, 7-8 hours minimum to help with recovery.
Perform a yoga session or get a sports massage.
Perform some core strength exercises to rebalance the body- 10-20 mins session.
To perform your recovery run with some friends could be even more helpful to motivate yourself, keep the run in a positive and happy state of mind and enjoy spending time with friends, chatting and without pushing the run.
Rest, Run, Recover!