how to recover from a really hard workout or race

How to Recover from a really hard Workout or Race

You just ran the hardest, FARTHEST, or fastest you’ve ever run before.  Yes!  You’re ready for the Olympics… Or are you?

Running Someone Else’s Workout

You found Kara Goucher’s track workout online and tried to do it.  You nailed it.  Every rep and every rest was exactly what she would have done.  But instead of super fast racing times, all you get are DOMS, sore muscles, and a hurt ego.  That’s not exactly what you wanted, is it?

If you’re like most runners who try to run longer or faster than you’re ready for, you’re likely to find muscles you’ve never had before.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.  Every fiber of your body will be sore and consequently, you’ll be forced to take the next 3 days off just to recover.

You don’t want that at all.

Recovery Process

You do not have to be sore for days if you don’t want to be.  There are tried and true things you can do to help alleviate the muscle soreness that came with running too fast or too hard.

5 strategies to minimize soreness

5 Strategies to Minimize Soreness
5 Strategies to Minimize Soreness


Why this helps: Eating something replenishes your glycogen levels and helps promote recovery.  The general rule is to eat within 30 minutes of finishing.

How Coach does it:  I bring some sort of bar or snack with me to my workouts and races and as soon as I finish cooling down, I take a few bites.  Everyone is different and can tolerate different foods, but I love peanut butter and jelly’s, snack bars or fruit (apples or bananas).  The quicker I can get food in my system, the better and faster I can recover.

Post-run recovery food - pbj
Post-run recovery food – pbj



Why this helps: Drinking water or a recovery drink helps flush out the lactic acid and the byproducts of running hard and fast.

How Coach does it: I have Gatorade or water on hand for during or right after the workout. recover from a really hard workout or race


Why this helps:  Resting allows you to recover and recharge for the next hard day.

How Coach does it: Rest doesn’t always mean a day off. Resting can also mean an easy recovery day.  Yes, you’ll be sore, but the saying I live by is “motion is lotion”!  When in doubt, a little jog will loosen you right up.

Post-run naps are great for recovery
Post-run naps are great for recovery


Why this helps: Breaking up scar tissue can help activate and speed up the recovery process.

How Coach does it:  I use a foam roller or a massage stick.  A few minutes after a hard workout or race is all I need to keep loose and ready for my next hard day.  If I’m continually sore and can’t recover, I opt for a massage.

Massaging on a foam roller
Massaging on a foam roller


Why this helps:  The more running you do (or base you have), the less likely you are to be sore.  If Runner A runs 50 miles a week and Runner B runs 15 miles a week and they do the same workout, runner A will likely recover faster due to a stronger base and better fitness.

How Coach does it: I pay close attention to the effort level I put out during a workout or race.  If my weekly mileage is low, my workouts and race performances match that level.  If I’m doing serious mileage, my workouts and races can come up to that level.

Want more strategies to overcome soreness?  Sign up to work with Marc and all his tips are at your fingertips!

Need recovery articles Marc has written? Check here: Eating Healthy for Optimum Performance, Getting the most out of your running & Race shorter distances to speed recovery 

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