(By Jim and Phil Wharton)
Long runs are the centerpiece of marathon training. But the key isn't just how you run them--it's also how you recover from them. Muscles regenerate and get stronger during the rest period after hard bouts of exercise. So in order to run well and stay injury-free, we recommend the following recovery routine. Work it into your schedule after every long run of 18 miles or more.
Hydrate: Drink eight to 16 ounces of sports drink, which replenishes electrolytes and minerals lost through sweat.
Change: Your body needs to cool down; putting on dry clothes (even just a fresh top) will help your body regulate its temperature.
Reload: Consume a mix of carbs and protein within 15 minutes after a run to jumpstart muscle recovery. Our personal favorite: hemp protein powder mixed in juice.
Shower: Warm water relaxes the nervous system and helps your body readjust its temperature.
Stretch: Doing our flexibility routine within an hour of ending a run boosts circulation, which aids recovery.
Refuel, again: Once your stomach has settled, eat a meal with a balance of carbs and protein to replace your glycogen (energy) stores and rebuild damaged muscle. Our postrun staple is quinoa, a whole grain high in protein.
Get horizontal: Naps are ideal, but you'll benefit from even a 15- to 30-minute break with your feet up (promotes circulation, relaxes heart rate).
Cool down: In the evening, soak in a cool or cold bath for 10 minutes to aid muscle recovery and prevent soreness the next day.
Self-massage: A sports massage can be too intense post-long run; kneading your own muscles helps you regulate your comfort level.