I am surviving my long runs of late.
I ran 11 miles on Friday.
That is far, ya’ll.
In previous years of running, going any distance further than 8 miles was a recipe for soreness, achiness and tiredness that day and a few days after. I would have been walking funny, cursing the running Gods and hoping that everything would return to its normal state soon enough.
I had heard back then and even now, that rest and recovery were the best prescription for long runs (heck- any runs!) but I didn’t pay much attention to those words of wisdom. I’m not sure why I didn’t pay attention- I heard it often enough. Maybe because I truly didn’t understand what those words meant? I didn’t know *how* to rest and recover even though my runner friends told me what to do, even though I read what to do, I just didn’t do it….right.
Fast forward to this year.
I am finally heeding the advice of so many runners ahead of me: REST and RECOVERY are a runner’s best friend and will keep you running.
My recipe of rest and recovery looks like this:
Sleep MORE prior to my runs. I normally get 6-ish hours of sleep a night. Not enough on normal days but that is what is was. I am trying my best to get more sleep, just because, you know, more sleep is better for you. However, it is even MORE important when you are taxing your body with miles and miles of running. This past week, my body took over and whether I liked it or not, it physically could not stay awake past 10pm. I was sleeping 8+ hours almost every night last week and my body loved it.
Sleep MORE after my runs. Just sleep more, m’kay?
Foam roll, stretch and/or yoga! After your run, you should really be stretching, foam rolling and later, if later permits, throw in some yoga. Depending on how much time I have immediately following a run, I will stretch and then foam roll. I usually save the yoga moves to the evening and only if I am feeling extremely tight. Foam rolling sometimes makes me want to cry but it’s in a *hurts me so good* way. The foam roller is doing its job of breaking up the knots in my muscles and scar tissue.
Eat right. Immediately following these long runs, I have a bag of fruit cut up and ready to eat as I drive home. Whatever fruit I have in the house is what I eat. Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, apples, oranges- any and all of it is good for you. Also, I up the protein intake for the day Eating is no problem for me either- ha! In fact, not gorging myself on carbs is the hard part. I am sure there are some very nice articles on exactly what you should be eating after a run, but I can’t remember what those articles say. That will be my next step in my evolving as a runner- actually googling *what to eat after a long run* and actually DOING it.
Keep moving. Throughout the day of a long run, I keep myself moving. Although I am tempted to park my self on the couch and not move anymore, I find that my muscles thank me when I just keep moving, Luckily, having three kids keeps me on my toes and moving, moving, moving. The more I move, the better I feel. The next day after a long run, I will again keep moving. If life with three kids isn’t keeping me moving enough, then I will go for a 30 minute walk. I find that the les I move, the worse I feel. The more I move, the better I feel. My muscles don’t have a chance to tighten up.
Glucosamine. I take a glucosamine vitamin to keep my joints happy and lubed!
Strength Training. Ever since I added strength training into my running mix, my injuries have all but disappeared. OK, truthfully, it has been since I have started doing ALL of the things on this list that my injury-prone body gave the injuries the old heave-ho. A stronger body just makes it all better.
What about you? DO you have any tips for how to keep your body happy and humming after those longer runs? What works for you? I would love to hear your input!