Disclosure: I was sent a pair of PRO Compression Pink Argyle Marathon socks to review. This is an honest review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Ahhhhhh the long run. My least favorite part of training, but unfortunately it’s also one of the most important parts of training. Every sport benefits from endurance. Did you know that speed is a factor of endurance and strength? As well, the long run helps you to improve your running economy, otherwise known as your oxygen consumption (VO2 Max). Because of long run training your body goes through many physical changes that includes:
- modifying the number, size, and distribution of mitochondria (the aerobic machines in your muscles),
- increasing oxidative enzyme activity, (which increases the rate at which your body can produce ATP)
- and it increases blood flow to your muscles.
In other words, the long run is a necessary evil if you want to improve your speed.
Unfortunately as good as the long run is for you, it’s also hard on your body, you need to stress it to improve, but if you don’t take the right steps towards proper recovery before your next run or workout, you’re just going to do more harm than good. Proper long run recovery is crucial to continuing to improve your endurance, which is why I want to share with you my top 3 tips for recovering from a long run….
After an intense long run or workout, water or a diluted sports drink is NOT your best choice. You need to begin replenishing everything that you used during your hard workout. After a hard run you need glycogen, in the form of glucose, electrolytes in the form of sodium and potassium, and protein to allow your body to start repairing your the injured muscles right away. Too much water after a run will only further dilute the availability of those nutrients. Studies have shown that drinking a beverage that contains a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is optimal for recovery. After my long runs I like to make the recovery shake that I’ve modified from the FITCHICKS Fierce in 8 (see recipe below).
It would seem that complete rest would be the best way to encourage recovery. However, research is beginning to find some advantages in active recovery. Active recovery is low-intensity exercise after a hard run or workout. After the marathon I ran last month I forced myself to do this by taking the kids grocery shopping. In the summers I take the kids for a walk to the park after a long run. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise (1) found that active recovery immediately after a hard workout encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels faster than complete rest, and another study (2) found active recovery encouraged lactic acid removal and and helped speed recovery. The general theory is that low-intensity activity assists blood circulation which, in turn, helps remove lactic acid from the muscle.
Not everyone has access to an ice bath, and seriously, dunking myself in ice cold water after a c-c-c-cold long run in the winter is not my idea of fun. Ajmol Ali, a PhD in the Sports and Exercise Science Department of Massey University has conducted a number of studies on compression garments. Thankfully multiple studies, including one done by Ali, have found decreases in muscle soreness and perceived fatigue. Some possible increases in blood flow and lymph removal during the recovery period have also been found, as well other studies found that wearing the socks after workouts had about the same recovery effect as taking an ice bath.
I’ve been recovering from my long runs in my PRO Compression Pink Argyle Marathon socks because they’re cute enough to wear with a running skirt while I walk around the grocery store or take the kids to the park. In the winter they keep my legs nice and warm under my yoga pants. This may be anecdotal, but I feel that they really do help my legs to recover.
Here is the recipe for my favourite long run recovery drink:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 5 leafs of kale
- 3 tbsp hulled hemp seed
- 1 cup of frozen blue berries
- 1 banana
- 1 scoop vegan protein powder I use Progressive Harmonized Vegan Protein
Put all ingredients into a blender (I use a Blendtec Professional 800 Blender) and blend until all ingredients have liquified.
Adapted from FIT CHICKS Fierce in 8 Chick Approved Nutrition
What do you eat after a long run or hard workout?
(1) Effects of active recovery on plasma lactate and anaerobic power following repeated intensive exercise. Ahmaidi S, Granier P, Taoutaou Z, Mercier J, Dubouchaud H, Prefaut C. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1996 Apr;28(4):450-6. PMID: 8778550
(2) Blood Lactate Removal Using Combined Massage and Active Recovery. Micklewright, D P. 1; Beneke, R FACSM 1; Gladwell, V 1; Sellens, M H. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 35(5) Supplement 1:S317, May 2003.