How do you recover from a 20 mile run?

For those that run long distance, it’s important to make sure you are recovering efficiently so you can ensure you are at peak fitness. This is likely to be your last ‘long run’ before you taper into a Marathon Race. Recovering from a 20-mile run requires special attention to ensure your body bounces back effectively. Here’s a more specific plan tailored to the demands of a long-distance run:   


  1. **Immediate Post-Run Recovery**

   – Hydrate: Drink plenty of fluids to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Consider a sports drink for electrolyte replenishment.  

   – Refuel: Consider a recovery shake or smoothie containing protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to kickstart the recovery process within 30 minutes of finishing.  

   – Stretch: Perform gentle stretching exercises targeting major muscle groups to help reduce muscle stiffness and improve flexibility.  

– Nutrition: Consume a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein within 60-90 minutes post-run to aid in muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment.  


  1. **Rest and Recovery**

   – Allow yourself adequate time to rest and recover. This may be 2-3 days off after a long run.  

   – Aim for 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night for the 3 days after a 20 mile run to support muscle repair and overall recovery.  

   – If you’re feeling ok after 24-48 hours you may consider engaging in low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga to promote active recovery.  


  1. **Nutrition and Hydration**

   – Continue to focus on hydration and consume at least 2-3 litres of water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels. If you are happy to weigh yourself pre and post run that can give you an idea of how much fluids to re-ingest over the following 24 hours.  

   – Consume nutrient-dense meals and snacks containing a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to support muscle repair and glycogen replenishment.  

   – Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, leafy greens, berries, and nuts to help reduce inflammation and promote recovery.  


  1. **Gentle Movement and Mobility**

   – Incorporate gentle movement and mobility exercises such as walking, light jogging, or yoga to promote blood flow, reduce muscle stiffness, and improve flexibility.  

   – Consider using foam rollers or massage tools to target areas of tightness or discomfort and aid in muscle recovery.  


  1. **Gradual Return to Training** 

   – Ease back into your training routine gradually, starting with low-intensity workouts and gradually increasing the intensity and duration as your body adjusts.  

   – Pay attention to how your body responds to training and adjust your schedule as needed to prevent overtraining and injury.  

   – Consider incorporating cross-training activities to maintain fitness while reducing the impact on your muscles and joints.  


By following these recovery strategies, you can help your body recovery effectively after a challenging 20-mile run and set yourself up for continued success in your training! 


Get in touch with one of our Specialist Sports Physios for a personalised training plan, specific to your needs! 

Author: Christopher Hedges, Pure Physio Sports Lead (South) and Specialist MSK Physiotherapist

References :  

  • Goston R. et al (2022). The Effect of Carbohydrate Diets on Amateur Runners’ Performance. Journal of Sports Research. 9. 57-66. 10.18488/90.v9i2.2993.    
  • Harbour E. Stöggl T. Schwameder H. Finkenzeller T. (2022) Breath Tools: A Synthesis of Evidence-Based Breathing Strategies to Enhance Human Running Frontiers Physiology Mar 17;13:813243. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2022.813243. PMID: 35370762; PMCID: PMC8967998.  
  • Nicolas  M. Banizette M. Millet G. (2011) Stress and recovery states after a 24 h ultra-marathon race: A one-month follow-up study, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Vol 12 (4) 368-374, ISSN 1469-0292,  
  • Tanous D, Wagner KH, Leitzmann C, Motevalli M, Wirnitzer G, Rosemann T, Knechtle B, Wirnitzer K. Dietary Intake of Recreational Endurance Runners Associated with Race Distance-Results from the NURMI Study (Step 2). Nutrients. 2022 Sep 7;14(18):3698. doi: 10.3390/nu14183698. PMID: 36145075; PMCID: PMC9503531.  
  • van Iperen, L. P., de Jonge, J., Gevers, J. M. P., Vos, S. B., & Hespanhol, L. (2022). Is self-regulation key in reducing running-related injuries and chronic fatigue? A randomized controlled trial among long-distance runners. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 34(5), 983–1010.  
  • Wan JJ, Qin Z, Wang PY, Sun Y, Liu X.(2017)  Muscle fatigue: general understanding and treatment. Exp Mol Med. Oct 6;49(10):e384. doi: 10.1038/emm.2017.194. PMID: 28983090; PMCID: PMC5668469.  
  • Wiewelhove T, Schneider C, Döweling A, Hanakam F, Rasche C, Meyer T, Kellmann M, Pfeiffer M, Ferrauti A. (2018) Effects of different recovery strategies following a half-marathon on fatigue markers in recreational runners. PLoS One. Nov 9;13(11):e0207313. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207313. PMID: 30412626; PMCID: PMC6226207.  

How can I speed up my recovery after a long run?

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