The intensity and volume of your workout influences the amount of recovery you need. A mild run performed at an easy pace may need very little time, while a hard workout may require between two to 10 days for full recovery. A number of factors may affect the length of your recovery including your sleep habits, diet and age.
When you run long distances you deplete your muscles of their glycogen stores which is the initial source of energy. Without allowing those muscles to restore their energy, you are not going to be able to operate at full capacity which in turn also hampers muscular repair. Post-run nutrition can influence muscle recovery. In the first 15 to 60 minutes your body is most efficient at replenishing its glycogen stores, so between 50 and 100g of carbohydrates post exercise with up to another 200g over the next 6 hours is ideal. Carbohydrate sources could include fruit, potatoes, cereals and whole grains.
It can take up to 2 to 3 weeks to fully recover from long distance runs. This is due to the wear and tear and the damage to muscle tissue that long distance running brings about. Returning to running too early puts you at risk of injury and impaired performance. You do not need to completely stop running during the recovery period but instead reduce your mileage and pace. Cross-training can also help muscular recovery as it will increase blood flow so trying something that minimizes impact such as swimming or cycling can be excellent alternatives. This will allow you to maintain fitness and conditioning levels without causing excessive e damage to muscle tissue.
With a suitable amount of rest, hydration, nutrition and light exercise, you should achieve a smooth recovery. Follow this 7 day plan to help maximize your results.
Recovery begins the moment you cross the finish line. The key to recovery initially is to keep hydrated and replace electrolytes by eating and drinking a suitable amount. Some light stretching may be suitable at the point if tight. Getting a good amount of rest and sleep and obviously abstinence from exercise is vital at this point.
Continue to hydrate, and make sure you are eating well-balanced meals. This period is all about replenishing lost stores of vitamins and nutrients and continuing to allow your muscles to rest.
Cross-training can be incorporated in to your training so some light swimming and cycling can be included to minimize wear and tear on the body. Stretching and massage may be quite good at this point to aid recovery.
Muscle soreness should have subsided by this point and you should feel more normal. Low level running can be incorporated at this part with short distances being covered. Roughly 1 day of rest is necessary for each mile ran so using this rule will tell you when you can start to ramp your training back up!