What I have learned over the last few years of training and running ultras and multi-day stage races is how critical recovery is before, during and after these races. I enjoy documenting my approaches, testing new elements and continuously evolving them with the hope of someday dialing in that “perfect” pre-race routine and post-run recovery plan. While I’m tinkering with my own approach, I also consume books, articles, videos, blogs and Facebook groups, digesting what others are doing with their own recovery plans, trying some of their approaches and sometimes integrating new stretches, nutrition and recovery proteins into mine. Together, I’d like to think I’m developing an approach that is continuously evolving and generally gets me closer in touch with my body.
I believe it is that connection, one that gives you an opportunity to listen to your body while you stretch and meditate, that contributes significantly to injury prevention.
While training for the World Marathon Challenge, which starts in less than 48 hours, I was meticulous in documenting my approach to recovery as I began to significantly increase weekly mileage and incorporate weekly B2B long runs. I paid close attention to how I felt before and after each run. I logged my diet the night before long runs and immediately after long runs. I analyzed my pace and heart rate during long runs, and the morning after. I tested different pre-run and post-run routines to prepare and recover. I did this most of November and all of December, with the objective of “locking in” on a single routine to repeat religiously before, during and after each run for the final 3 weeks of training leading up to the World Marathon Challenge.
The goal was to get comfortable with the routines to the point of creating a habit, thereby minimizing the stress, and mental energy, of remembering (and even second-guessing) what I should be doing while running 7 marathons on all 7 continents in 7 days.
Here are the pre and post-run routines I ultimately settled into for this adventure.
Pre-Run Routine Before all Long Runs (>13 miles)
1.5 hours before running:
- 7-9 oz of water with 1 Nuun tablet
- 1 cup of earl grey tea
- 1 bagel with peanut butter
- 2 One a Day Men’s Gummies multi-vitamins
1 hour before running:
- 10 minutes of foam rolling
- IT bands
- Back and shoulders
- 10 minutes of stretching
- Active Isolated Stretching (See Jim and Phil Wharton’s Guide to AIS)
- Traditional stretches for back
- Leg crossovers (on back)
- Leg walkovers (on stomach)
- Lacrosse ball under each foot
- 10 minutes of yoga
- Child’s pose
- Cat and Cow
- Downward dog
- 10 minutes of meditation
Post-run Recovery Process after Long Runs (>13 miles)
Within 10 minutes of completing run:
- Drink 9 oz Coke (only after runs >20 miles)
- Mix 1 cup of Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder + 1 tablespoon MCT Oil with 7-9 oz of water
- 2 GU Roctane BCAA capsules
- 1 Sound Probiotics Sport capsule
Within 1 hour of completing run:
- Eat a small meal (4:1 ratio of carbs to protein)
- Drink 7-9 oz of water with 1 Nuun tablet
- Repeat pre-run stretching, foam rolling and yoga routine (see above)
- Normatec 30 minutes for legs and 30-60 minutes
- If run greater than 20+ miles and B2B of 20+ miles the following day, wear compression pants remainder of the day
1.5-2 hours before bed:
- Mix 1 cup of Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein Protein (slow-release) with 7-9 oz of water
- Drink 7-9 oz of water with 1 Nuun tablet
- 10-minutes of light stretching and yoga
As I finished packing, I took this approach and made sure I had separate packing cubes labeled “pre-run” and “post-run,” so that I had everything I needed in one place. Again, my objective for this 7-day “stage race,” was to minimize as much thinking as possible.
I don’t think it’s possible to ever dial in the perfect pre- and post-run routine, but I do believe strongly that having a replicable routine is helpful in settling nerves pre-run/race, ensuring maximum recover post-run/race and generally getting you more in tune with your body, how it’s feeling and what it needs from you to continue to perform.
As a long-time tinkerer of these routines, I’d love to hear your thoughts and even your routines. Please post them here or feel free to reach out to me via Instagram @brianwwinter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in PDFs of these checklists with “check boxes” for each step, drop me an email with the subject “Running Routines” and I’ll shoot them back to you.