Newbie 101: Running Recovery

Have you ever felt sore after each hard race? After each long run? Oh, yeah? Well, you’re not alone. Mind you, I walked like a penguin the next day after I finished Pasig International Marathon, my first marathon, last year.Walking down the stairs, especially, in public areas can be an embarrassing moment, especially, when you notice people staring at you wondering why you walk in such a funny way. Going up and down is an all-out effort if I must say. Oh well, it’s part of the game we call RUNNING.

That same feeling came back after I finished the 70K ultramarathon race two weeks ago or shall I say almost two weeks ago. Unlike in the previous races, however, I was surprised to note that my body, particularly my legs, was not that sore as before. I even went back to work as if I didn’t run seventy kilometers over the weekend.

So what strategies did I do to make running recovery effective? Some I learned from Coaches Rio and John. Some of it came from an old school way of doing things. The rest I discovered from reading running literature.

I believe nature has its own way of healing us. It’s our spa. Why do I say this? After the PAU 70K Race, I took a swim in the beach next day and it helped. Plus, the thirty-minute walk along the beach lessened the soreness. Cooling down as well as stretching a few minutes after the race also helped relax aching muscles. I have also applied ice as well as elevated my legs for a few minutes. Two days after, I had a whole body massage. That leaves me feeling so much better.

What do seasoned runners or experts say about running recovery?

Here’s one good advice from Jeff Galloway, U.S. Olympian and author of Marathon: You Can Do It. His quest for the injury-free marathon training program has led him to develop group training programs as well as write articles published in Runner’s World which are used by a number of runners of all abilities. Galloway’s RUN-WALK-RUN™ method, together with low mileage and three-day strategies, has inspired second wave marathoners with 98% success rate.

By Jeff Galloway
Originally published 12/17/2007 in Runner’s World

Working out hard is great but muscle recovery is an equally important part of the equation. Correct training recovery is essential but it takes time. This routine will speed it up. So after your next tough run or race, do your normal cooldown, then follow my five-step routine. It’ll get you ready for your next challenge in no time.

Move your legs then raise them. After a hard race or run, you can help your leg muscles pump out waste products by walking for 5 to 10 minutes afterward. If you want to eat or drink while you’re walking, that’s fine. Just keep moving at a nice, easy pace. After your walk, sit down and elevate your legs for up to 10 minutes.

Keep your legs cool. Next you’ll want to soak your legs in cool water for 5 to 10 minutes. Any cool water source will do-think tub, pool, stream, pond, or (if you’re lucky) the ocean. And it’s still beneficial to soak your legs even 2 or 3 hours after your run. The most courageous soakers add ice cubes to their tub water, but cold water straight from the tap works fine. Avoid hot-water soaks, as they can actually slow down your recovery process.

Repeat step one. If you can fit it in, go for another 1-to3-mile walk later in the day, then elevate your legs for another 10 minutes. Remember: Like the walk immediately after your hard training effort, this walk should be slow and comfortable.

Give your legs a rubdown. Whether you seek out a certified massage therapist, a friend, or you do it yourself, massage can really speed recovery by improving circulation and helping to remove waste products from your muscles. The sooner you rub down your tired leg muscles, the better. That’s why most major marathons provide massage tents in the finish areas (and why there are such long lines of runners there). Keep in mind that you may feel some pain as your stiff muscles are massaged. But that pain level should never rise above 6 on a scale where 10 represents excruciating pain.

Walk the next day. The day after a very hard effort, it’s better for your legs if you walk for 30 to 60 minutes rather than taking the day off completely. Walking brings more blood flow (with its nutrients and oxygen) to your tired muscles, which accelerates the recovery process.


You may follow Foster’s Rule: Take 1 easy day for each mile (1.6K) run in a hard race.

Example: If you run a 6-mile (approximately 10K) speed session that leaves your legs begging for mercy, alternate a day of walking with a day of slow running for the next six days.

Jack Foster is from New Zealand and a former marathon world record holder in the over forty age division. (Source:

7 thoughts on “Newbie 101: Running Recovery

  1. remembered that my whole body ached on my first half-mary. had a body massage the following day and it did helped a lot. gonna try the other items listed here. thanks!


  2. Nice post! Thanks for the info RunningDiva! I'm quite a newbie and do feel these after I try to run longer distances (even if I'm slow). Will take your advise (and Jeff's too) for it! Congrats on the PAU 70K finish! 🙂


  3. Don't worry about being slow Kathy. Remember that famous fable, The Hare and the Tortoise by Aesop, where the tortoise reached the finish line way ahead of the hare? 😉 In time you'll get the speed you have. Glad that you found this post helpful. Do well and see you at the starting line soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: