Some of the questions I get from runners are not about how they're feeling during their runs, but about various issues they experience after running. For example, I often hear from runners who complain about post-run headaches, which can be a result of dehydration, or may be exercised-induced (more common when running in hot weather). Others complain about post-run muscle soreness, especially after a long run or tough speed workout.
Here are some tips for taking care of yourself post-run, especially if you're doing a long run this weekend:
- Some distance runners use ice baths to reduce post-run soreness after long runs. Ice baths are an efficient way to reduce inflammation and soreness because you'll ice your entire body at once, rather than just small areas. If you can't tolerate an ice bath, use ice packs on sore joints.
- Don't wait too long to eat after a long run or hard workout. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness. A good rule of thumb for post-run food is a ratio of 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a smoothie made with fruit and yogurt is a good choice.
- Make sure that you're hydrating properly after running, especially in the summer months. Plain water is fine for re-hydrating after your run, but some runners prefer recovery drinks, such as chocolate milk (in place of a post-run snack). Do a urine check - if it's dark yellow after your run, you need to keep drinking. It should be a light lemonade color.
Talk to your doctor if you have pain that lasts more than a week and isn't responding to RICE self-treatment, or if you have any unusual post-run symptoms that are concerning you.