How to Recover After a Long Run

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Pounding out 10 or 20 miles is hard on your body. To avoid injury and keep yourself interested in running, you need to actively recover.

Photo by Massimo Sartirana on Unsplash


This takes more than just stretching your quads and eating a bagel. Here are five ways you can boost your post-run recovery efforts.

Compression Socks

Tight, knee-length compression socks reduce muscle soreness. They help blood move through your legs more quickly, taking away waste chemicals like lactic acid and bringing oxygen to your muscle cells. You can use any pair of compression socks to improve recovery, but a model designed specifically for post-run wear will deliver the best results. You can also try running in compression socks and leaving them on afterwards.

Foam Rollers

For deep tissue relief of your major running muscles, you need a foam roller. These hard cylinders use your bodyweight to apply pressure to sore muscles, breaking down knots and promoting blood flow. You’ll experience faster recovery and maintain your flexibility by using a foam roller. Many runners also enjoy the sensation of penetrating deep into the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.

Recovery Meals

Scientists have found that the best meals for recovering from a long run have a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fat. These levels are the best for rapid digestion and restoration of the fuel your body consumes during a long run. Chocolate milk is an easy way to meet this ratio. Greek yogurt with fruit, a banana with peanut butter, and hummus with crackers are other quick snacks for running recovery. You can also purchase pre-made sports drinks with the perfect ratio, but they’re a pricier option.

Sports Massage

When done properly, a sports massage isn’t a relaxing experience. So why pay for one? It can speed up your recovery from long runs, especially races. When you push your body as hard as possible, you tear down muscle and build up lactic acid. A sports massage can get your legs back in shape. Try to schedule one after every half or full marathon you run.

Recovery Runs

The last thing you want to do after a long, hard run is put your running shoes back on, but recovery runs are great for your long-term training. You can bump up your weekly mileage with a slow run the day after a long trek. Running when you’re fatigued from a 10-mile training session teaches your body how to run when tired. You’ll appreciate the extra effort when you’re making good time at the end of your race.

You don’t need to go through all of these steps after every run you do. Save them for longer runs when you’ve taken a beating and your body needs extra TLC. Helping your body recover from a long run will keep you mentally and physically healthy. Lower your risk of burn-out and injury by taking proper care of yourself.