While I was on a recent hike I thought about something I learned from fellow running coach Jay Johnson about recovery from long runs. It is important to perform some exercise on the day after a long run, or event like a marathon, to help speed recovery. Specifically, it is most beneficial to perform a non-running aerobic exercise that will still deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscle fibers damaged by your long run. This extra oxygen will help speed the repair and recovery of these muscle fibers.
There are a variety of different aerobic exercises that can be beneficial, such as cycling or swimming. However, Coach Jay Johnson recommends that runners perform a brisk walk, or hike, at a pace of at least three miles per hour. He goes on to say this walk or hike should be performed in a flat area, or in an area with gently rolling hills.
I recommend that your brisk walk or hike be 45-60 minutes. You may also want to incorporate some foam rolling, active isolated stretching, yoga poses, or static stretching afterwards to further enhance your recovery from a long run.
So, start incorporating brisk walks or hikes after your long runs to help you recover faster and be more ready for your next tough run.
An added benefit is that the brisk walk, or hike, allows you to spend some quality time with friends and/or loved ones. I often perform recovery hikes with my wife and dog, which allows for some great connection time.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.
Your friend and coach,
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