How I Recover Quickly

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Morning!  I hope you’re having a beautiful Sunday.  I took last night off to hang out with the Husband, my brother-in-law Nick, and our friend Harry.  We had a wonderful night!


But first… I needed to set my “recovery plan” in motion.  After yesterday’s 15.4 mile trail run (the furthest I’ve run since the marathon in January!), I knew I was going to be hurtin’ today if I didn’t take the correct steps.


The key to a fast recovery (for me):


  • Eat enough calories!  The only time I calorie count is on long and hard workout days because I want to make sure I’d adequately refueling my body.  Because I’m not trying to gain or lose weight, I aim to ‘eat back’ the calories I burned, although this becomes close to impossible when you’re running really, really long distances (like a marathon).  In those circumstances, I try to eat a little bit more the day before and the day after.


  • But… Choose your calories wisely.  I’m no nutritionist or dietician, so I can’t sprout off scientific facts about carb to protein ratios.  I just aim for a mix of complex carbs, vegetarian protein, and nutrient-rich veggies and fruits.  There’s no need to refuel with crappy junk food, although I do have some sweets and treats, too!




  • Take an anti-inflammatory.  You all know I’m not a huge fan of medication, but my doctor cleared me to take 800 mg of ibuprofen a few hours after long runs, provided that I also…



  • Sleep.  Sleep is super important to recovery, and I aim to get an extra hour or two when I’m training really hard.  Helen S. Driver, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at the Toronto Hospital, cites studies showing that long-term sleep loss saps vigilance and mental ability. "A number of researchers," she says, "have demonstrated deterioration in physical performance, shorter time to exhaustion, lower max VO2, higher lactate accumulation and increased heart rate and ventilation at submaximal speeds" in sleep-deprived athletes. (source)


  • Keep moving!  Rest and recover are important, but I’ve found it works for me to do something active, like go for a walk or a swim.  Keeping my legs moving helps prevent my legs from locking up.


  • Know it gets better.  The longer you’re active, the quicker your body will bounce back!  I promise.


So yesterday afternoon, I spent my day eating, stretching, and icing!  It was glorious.  🙂


For lunch #1, I had a Cherry Chocolate Bomb (1 cup almond milk, 1/2 banana, 2 cups spinach, 1 scoop Nesquik, 15 frozen cherries) and a large baked sweet potato with baked beans.


For lunch #2, I had an egg and cheese sandwich with a plate of steamed Brussel sprouts.


As mentioned, Harry, Nick, the Husband, and I went out last night.  We went to a lovely lake-side spot in downtown Orlando called the Relax Grill.  Before we sat down, we did a loop around the 1.0-mile walking path near the lake.  It felt good to move my legs!


I had some hummus and pita:


And wine:


And a vegetarian stir-fry with yellow rice.  I asked for the sauce on the side so I could limit my sodium.


When we got home, I polished off this ice cream.  There was probably a 1/2 serving left.


Although it’s a Sunday, I have a LOT of work to do!  Meh.  I better get cracking!


What are your tips for a fast recovery?



  • Lauren @ A Fit Foodie April 4, 2010, 9:22 am

    I also stretch, stay active, take a hot bath, eat and ice. All essential to feeling better the next day.

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 4, 2010, 9:26 am

    Good recovery tips! Out of curiosity, are you always hungry when you eat on re-fuel days? Cos I struggle to eat enough on after a long run cos I jsut have no appetite! Do you think it’s better to force yourself to eat, or just eat whenever you’re hungry?
    Have a lovely relaxing day 🙂

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 9:28 am

      yesterday i was easily hungry enough to eat back the 1,400 calories or whatever i burned. but i struggled with this during marathon training because there was NO WAY i could eat like 2,200 calories in a day without stuffing my face with really dense foods, which i just didn’t have the appetite for. it’s important to remember your body doesn’t magically reset every 24 hours, so you can continue to refuel a little the next day, too!

      • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 4, 2010, 9:38 am

        Thankyou! That makes a lot of sense 🙂
        Have a great day!

      • AM April 4, 2010, 6:30 pm

        Cait, when you say you couldn’t eat 2200 in a day without stuffing your face…tell me that you mean 2200 *in addition* to your regular meals! A 2200 calorie day is per usual for me. (Yeah, and i’ll admit i’d have no problem tacking on an additional 2200 the day of a marathon. Heh.)

        • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 6:32 pm

          oh definitely. i usually eat 2200 calories on average, but i meant i’d have to eat 1800 (baseline) plus 2200 (burned) on long run workouts, which is difficult when your eating mostly natural and unprocessed foods.

  • Lauren April 4, 2010, 9:27 am

    Brown rice protein shakes with chia seeds to help my muscles recover!

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 9:28 am

      mm that sounds good!

  • Ashley April 4, 2010, 9:34 am

    Those are great tips!! Thank you! You make a lot of great points.
    Just as a side note though, don’t you think it’s a little concerning how you ate more than Meghann yesterday, who ran twice the distance as you? Just saying this as a concern for her, not you. I know she is your good friend, and I hope she is taking care of herself.

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 9:46 am

      Sometimes it’s hard to eat a lot post-intense cardio, but I’m sure she’ll make it up today at her family’s Easter celebration!

  • Anna April 4, 2010, 9:34 am

    My recovery trick is a yoga pose: legs-up-the-wall! Lie on the floor, stick your legs straight up, and scoot your butt up against the wall so your legs are flush against it. It feels SO good to take some pressure off your feet and ankles and it really helps with ciculation. Google it and you’ll find a better desciption of the benefits.

    When I used to play ultimate frisbee, we’d have upwards of 5 games per day, which could mean 7+ hours of stop-start sprinting… it REALLY took a toll on the body. I’d be SO sore for days afterwards and discover all these tiny little muscles in my ankles and calves that I didn’t even know existed. The day after, I would just hang out in legs up the wall pose for awhile and felt a lot better for it.

    Congrats again! Now go eat some more!

  • jen trinque April 4, 2010, 9:52 am

    When I ran a half marathon a couple weeks ago, I actually took an ibuprofen before I ran and then two four hours later after the race was all over. I’m definitely not a big fan of meds, but I know they can help with inflammation. I definitely felt pretty good after the race. I try to refuel with healthy foods, too, but I know after long distances it takes a while for my hunger to come back, so I normally aim to drink a green monster with some nut butter in it even if I’m not super hungry.

  • Matt April 4, 2010, 9:54 am

    After a long:
    1. Ice bath
    2. Protein smoothie
    3. Stretch and foam roll
    4. EAT
    5. Nap
    6. Advil PM before bed 😉

    Works like a charm.

  • Samantha April 4, 2010, 9:54 am

    🙂 Your eats look so good girl!! Glad you recovered from your race, it looked crazy!

  • Danielle (Coffee Run) April 4, 2010, 9:55 am

    Those are great tips! I’m studying to be an RD and basically the protein/carb ratios for an intense work-out stay the same as everyday life. All you have to focus on is eating MORE! Oh, and electrolytes help 😀

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 4, 2010, 9:56 am

    Great tips! I do the same but add foam roll, massage (not right away), and elevate your legs! For me eating and icing is the most important 🙂

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels April 4, 2010, 10:04 am

    yeah I unfortunately have a lot of work to do as well. Since I was pretty social my other days off I have a day full of homework now.

  • Jenny April 4, 2010, 10:16 am

    Great tips! I love the extra sleep rule:)

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans April 4, 2010, 10:59 am

    My foam roller and my SIGG bottle are my two best friends after long runs!

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly April 4, 2010, 11:03 am

    Ice, Water and Food! 🙂 Glad you are recovering nicely!! 🙂 Happy Sunday girly!!

  • Julie April 4, 2010, 11:44 am

    So impressed by your epic race 😉 Congrats Caitlin!!

  • Diana April 4, 2010, 11:48 am

    That place looks amazing! Love the trees and the lights 🙂

  • Michelle April 4, 2010, 11:59 am

    Omygoodness that restaraunt looks so gorgeous. The trees and the lights look magical. After long runs I always crave long walks too. My last long run I had to go to the airport immediately after and sit on a 4 hour flight! My leg’s weren’t happy.

  • Lisa April 4, 2010, 12:11 pm

    Those are some good tips for recovering. I’m too much of a wuss to do an ice bath (I attempted to do it after my last 8k and only got one toe in the bath before saying no way!) but I ice my knees and ankles. I also sleep. I come home, shower, and immediately sleep for at least an hour.

  • Run Sarah April 4, 2010, 12:37 pm

    Great recovery tips! I find yoga has helped me immensely from preventing injuries, even just 20 minutes a few times a week has made a world of difference.

  • beth April 4, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Hi Caitlin. What do you consider long runs? I struggle with knowing when to ice, stretch and what not. I usually know when to eat more though 😉 If i run 10 or more miles I try to take ice baths and rest more, etc. Sometimes a 7 miler seems so short and easy that, like last night :/ I went our for 3 beers and feel a little horrible today because i know that i did not rehydrate properly.

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 12:49 pm

      i consider anything that requires more than an hour of running a long run 🙂

      • beth April 4, 2010, 10:22 pm

        thanks! BTW, the field shot of you is very nice!! 🙂

  • Jessie April 4, 2010, 1:16 pm

    As a future dietitan, I think your tips for recovery are fantastic! A lot of times people make the mistake of not hydrating or fueling themselves enough before, during, and after long runs, and everyone skimps on sleep occasionally! This is a good reminder to not fall into those traps. Happy Easter! 🙂

  • Evan Thomas April 4, 2010, 1:22 pm

    I so agree on the keep moving. It seems counterintuitive since the LAST thing I want to do after a long run is walk, but every time I run after I walk a few miles I feel Great

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 4, 2010, 3:12 pm

    Great recovery tips! Especially the one about eating ice cream. 😉

  • Emily Eats and Exercises April 4, 2010, 3:24 pm

    Thanks for all those tips. I’m still a novice runner but I’m training for my first half and I’m not doing a great job after my long runs. It all just takes so much time! I plan my time to run, but I forget to leave time to ice/stretch, and sometimes I even forget to leave time to make a good lunch. This was a great reminder.

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] April 4, 2010, 3:41 pm

    What a beautiful outside restaurant! Congrats again on yesterday’s accomplishment!

  • lauren @ Eater not a runner April 4, 2010, 4:47 pm

    Love this post, great tips. Refueling and rehydrating is SO important!

  • BethT April 4, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Your new sidebar pic is stunning! You were lucky to find that field of wildflowers.

  • John April 4, 2010, 5:42 pm

    Great tips! Except for the icing and anti-inflammatory I usually do the rest of them. The longer I run the longer I walk immediately afterwards to cool down and keep the legs moving.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing April 4, 2010, 6:11 pm

    Those are great tips! I will definitely keep them in mind this time around when i am able to bring running (and exercise) back into my life. I made the mistake of not eating enough calories before I developed this stress fracture and I am thinking that my lack of adequate nutrition was a contributing factor to my injury. I now know how important it really is!

  • Erica April 4, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Another fabulous accomplishment! Congrats!!!!!!! Great tips for recovery. Hope you are having a wonderful Sunday

  • Katherine April 4, 2010, 7:07 pm

    Wow great tips; thanks so much! I’m hoping to get into the corporate running world. do you feel like some cities are more running based?

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 7:55 pm

      yes and also, different areas have different “seasons.” ours is pretty much over, others are just beginning!

      • Katherine April 4, 2010, 10:16 pm

        where is the next posh city to be running in? I want to have a good marathon some time (affordability, if possible). Thanks for the response!

  • Joanne April 4, 2010, 7:28 pm

    Fast recovery: Eat within an hour of finishing the event. Have a good source of protein with high G.I. carbs (potatoes, waffles, etc). Also – 4500mg of L-Glutamine has always helped me. I rarely get sore or achy.

    Off topic: Caitlin – took your advise and went for a road bike. A Specialized Dolce Sport. I’m so excited. But I did drive the guys mad at the store and kept them explaining EVERYTHING for over an hour. 🙂 It was fun. I’m putting a photo of it at my site tomorrow morning. Now I have to decide on accessories.

    • Caitlin April 4, 2010, 7:54 pm

      for the cost of a dolce, you deserve an hour!! 🙂 have fun!

      • Joanne April 4, 2010, 8:24 pm

        Hubby’s idea. I just hope when he orders his this week he also goes for a road bike but I think he is more inclined to go with a hybrid. It’s worth making the serious investment when both of you are into it. I’m looking forward to joining the local MV Bicycling club.
        Although I know I’ll still prefer running.

  • Britt @ Runnerbelle April 4, 2010, 7:59 pm

    I definitely stretch, do the legs up on the wall, try to get a good mix of carbs & protein, and then try not to sit around too much. I find that the more I keep moving the better.

  • Abby April 4, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Awesome run! Your race recaps are always so encouraging!!!

  • One Healthy Apple April 4, 2010, 8:36 pm

    Wonderful recovery tips! I’m too chicken to do anything like the races you do, but it’s great info to have in case I get brave and go for it!

    P.S. I love the new picture of you on the left- you look so healthy and happy!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg April 4, 2010, 9:06 pm

    I’m just now catching up on your weekend adventure– awesome job on the run!!!! You rocked it!

  • Heather ( April 4, 2010, 9:34 pm

    that restaurant looks really pretty! sounds like a relaxing day.

  • April 4, 2010, 9:54 pm

    Great refueling tips! I usually just do a lot of stretching and drink a lot of water. I don’t worry sooo much about eating back the calories since I would still like to lose about 5 lbs post baby weight! 😉

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) April 4, 2010, 10:10 pm

    thanks for the great tips! i definitely find that moving after a hard workout is key to feeling better quickly. that and major stretching! hope you guys have a wonderful night!

  • KatieTX April 4, 2010, 11:55 pm

    I did an 8 mile run for the first time yesterday! My hip and calve is sore so I foam rolled, went in the hot tub, and been on the heating pad. Hopefully, it feels better soon! I have been stretching constantly!!

  • Catherine April 5, 2010, 9:45 am

    I try to make a fresh vegetable juice (or buy one) and drink it asap after I get back from a super long run and then once that settles I make a big calorie-packed smoothie with an avocado or something thrown in there. I did this after my 20 mile run on Saturday and felt fine and didn’t get sore the next day. I’ve read that pureed/juiced foods are best because your body doesn’t have to use as much energy digesting and more blood, etc can get distributed to your muscles to start rebuilding.

  • Tara April 5, 2010, 9:57 am

    Awww yeah, sodium-watching holla! haha 🙂 my ears (eyes?) perked up on that for sure! I loved reading your race recap and your tips for speedy recoveries. It’s sometimes hard to follow through on taking good care of your body after a race! The flawed logic goes:”I just ran this race, now I can take it wasy and do whatever I want!” …when really it’s better to take time to ice, stretch, sleep, etc.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) April 5, 2010, 1:27 pm

    Sleep and food are huge for me. I don’t normally nap but on race days I always take a nap. And I drink even more water than normal.

  • marie January 10, 2011, 8:27 am

    Thanks for posting this.
    I would caution that it is possible to drink TOO much water though. Diluting the sodium in your blood cells can cause weakness, nausea, seizure, coma and death. I wouldn’t want people to read this as: “always drink TONS of water and limit sodium” because that can be dangerous.

    • Caitlin January 10, 2011, 9:55 am

      for sure!!

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