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How I Recover after a Long Run

by Stephanie Suire on September 30, 2014

As a FitFluential ambassador, I received the opportunity to work with Got Chocolate Milk.  This is a sponsored post with BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK but all opinions are my own and I have been drinking low-fat chocolate milk after my long runs for the past two years. 

I am wrapping up a week-long business trip in Europe and when I was sitting in a bookstore a few days ago taking advantage of their free wi-fi so I could work somewhere besides my hotel room, it hit me that the next time I travel overseas will most likely be in April. My husband and I will get on a plan with both of our kids for their first international flight, headed to Paris so I can run my very first marathon, the Marathon de Paris!  Excited, nervous, and terrified are the best way to describe my feelings about running my first marathon.  Although it will be over in (hopefully) about five hours, it will take about five months of training to prepare me for race day.

My plan is to run a few times during the week, include some speed training and hill work and save my long runs for Saturday mornings. So far my longest run is 13.1 miles, I have completed 9 half marathons but I have never ran longer than that because I reach the finish line and someone hands me a medal and I have not incentive to keep running. I guess that is all about to change because I plan to build up to at least one or two 20 mile training runs in the spring.

When I started distance training about four years ago, I had no idea how to recover after a long run. Unfortunately, I would end up sore and stiff the next day and wonder if I would ever be able to make it to the finish line of my first half marathon.  Over time I figured out what worked best for me, so I am sharing how I recover after a long run.

5 Ways to Recover from a Long Run

1.  Lowfat Chocolate Milk – Why chocolate milk? With two kids, I always have some in the fridge, it tastes good and it is a great recovery drink! Science has shown that drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a hard workout helps refuel and rebuild my muscles after a long run.  It has the perfect carb-to-protein ratio to refuel muscles, provides fluids and electrolyes that are lost during long runs, and is a natural source of lean protein to build and repair lean muscle.

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2. Take a cold water/ice bath – Sitting in a tub full of cold water after running 10+ miles may not sound like your idea of a good time but it will help your legs feel better the next day. I have found that if I take a cold water/ice bath shortly after my long run, it reduces muscle fatigue and soreness that I normally feel the next day. The key is to put on a warm sweatshirt, get in the tub and sit down BEFORE you turn on the cold water. Fill the tub up to cover you legs and it you are really brave, have your spouse/friend/enemy dump a bag of ice into the water. Stay immersed in the cold water for 10-15 minutes and fight the impulse to immediately jump in a hot shower until your legs regain feeling again.

3. Compression gear – After my chocolate milk and an ice bath, I squeeze myself into a pair of compression capri pants and calf sleeves to relieve muscle swelling and muscle pain. When I crossed the finish line at the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon a few weeks ago, my calves were burning and in pain from running uphill in the gravel. As soon as I pulled on my compression sleeves, I felt instant relief from the muscle pain. It does take some time to adjust to the feeling of your legs being squeezed but I have been known to sleep in my compression sleeves, slip them on during long flights and even wear them under my dress pants to work!

4. Get off my feet – Once I drink my chocolate milk, chill out in an ice bath and put on my compression gear – I finally get to my favorite part of long run recovery. I get off my feet for a few hours and REST. This can mean sitting on the couch with my feet up, lying in bed or even taking a short nap (if I run 10+ miles, I have earned that nap). This does not mean I get a free pass to be lazy all day but a few hours off my feet helps my legs recover.

5. Use a Foam roller – I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. I hate the pain while I am roller but I love how I feel the next day. It can be painful to roll my glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves after a long run but it helps to push out the lactic acid to promote recovery and alleviate soreness.  My husband watched my face contort in pain when I used the foam roller on my tight calves and said he would never torture himself like that. I swear he is missing out!

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Apparently, I am not the only athlete who is training for a big race and refueling with chocolate milk.  Apolo Ohno, the speedskating world champion has been training for the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii and the race is next Saturday, October 11th.  Along with Jen Ator, the Women’s Health editor, Apolo has been training for six months and you can find behind-the-scenes content and training tips from Ohno at www.gotchocolatemilk.com.  I just checked out Episode 6 of Mission Apolo: BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK and Apolo is FOAM ROLLING in it!

Chocolate Milk is the also the Official REFUEL Beverage of Men’s USA Hockey, Women’s USA Swimming, IRONMAN U.S. Triathlon Series, Iron Girl, Life Time Fitness Cycle Club, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series (been there), and Esprit de She (done that).

Are you training for a big race? Have you tried Chocolate Milk after a hard workout? What is your best tip for recovery after a long run?

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