I’ve received a bunch of questions from readers asking about various parts of my marathon training and quite a few of them were related to recovery, so I wanted to share some of the things that I am doing “behind the scenes.” I truly believe that the combination of these things has kept my body happy and healthy (*knock on wood*) over the past 14 weeks. Let’s hope they continue to work, so I am ready to run 26.2 miles in just 13 days!
Quick note: I am not a medical professional, so be sure to chat with your doctor before you try any of the supplements mentioned below.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER RUNS
Icing + protein shakes (+ sometimes peanut M&Ms)
As soon as I finish a mid-to-long run (pretty much anything over 8 miles), I ice my knees and drink a protein shake made with SFH Recovery protein powder. My knees always kind of bug me after a long run, and I want to get the recovery process going as soon as possible, so I consume protein as soon as I can. It’s almost to the point where I am semi-superstitious about doing these two things, like: Must ice knees and drink protein shake or something bad will happen.
Wearing compression socks
After icing, drinking a protein shake, and taking a shower, I put on a pair of compression socks and wear them until I go to bed. (They make me super hot at night, especially since I often get the nightsweats, so I take them off before bed.) I think they make a difference with recovery, but, honestly, I just like the way they feel after a long run.
Taking fermented cod fish oil + a multivitamin
I’ve officially listened to too many Balanced Bites podcasts! Haha! Diane and Liz always rave about the Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pasture, so I finally bought some. (Here’s a great blog post from Diane about fermented cod liver oil and why she doesn’t take fish oil supplements.) With marathon training, muscle soreness, and autoimmune/gut issues, I’m trying to keep inflammation at bay the best I can. (Side note: I’ll probably order the Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend next time because I want to add some more vitamin K2 to my diet, which helps with inflammation, bone health, skin health, and lots of other good stuff.) I also take a daily multivitamin. I bought a bunch from Rainbow Light when I was pregnant, so I am still taking the pre-natal ones on the regular.
A FEW TIMES PER WEEK
I usually spend about 20 minutes foam rolling my legs and sometimes my lower back while watching TV in the evening after Quinn has gone to bed. Sometimes, I’ll take a break and then go back to it if it’s too painful (holy IT bands!), but it really does help loosen things up.
Eating cereal in the middle of night
Marathon training makes me an eating machine! And if I’m hungry in the middle of the night, I have no problem getting out of bed to eat. It typically happens a few times a week and my food of choice is almost always cereal and milk or cereal and Stonyfield yogurt. Recently, I’m digging Cheerios + Ancient Grains and Rice Chex mixed with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. ALLTHECARBS!
Consuming Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein
I randomly started taking Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein about halfway through my training. Whole Foods had the single-serving packets on sale, so I was curious about them. I read the ingredients and immediately decided that I wanted to add them to my diet. The list of ingredients is awesome and includes all sorts of super foods, enzymes, and probiotics– many of which have anti-inflammatory properties and are important for muscle recovery, joint health, and autoimmune/gut issues. I also love that it’s a great source of protein and there are over 3 grams of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), which are important for athletes and training. I’ve tried the Smooth Coffee, Chocolate, and Vanilla flavors and like them all. I usually mix them with iced coffee + rice milk or into my oatmeal at breakfast.
My electrolytes are all messed up from Remicade, adrenal issues… I dunno, but I get light-headed often and my blood tests are always a little wacky, so my doctor recommended consuming extra electrolytes. She suggested Gatorade, but Nuun is a healthier option, and I like the way it tastes better, so I drink it a few times per week in addition to during most of my runs.
EVERY OTHER WEEK
Getting a 60-minute sports massage
I have a ton of muscle imbalances due to scoliosis, so my massage therapist (Allison) at Muscle Medics does all sorts of deep myofascial work and active release methods to keep my body happy and healthy. I absolutely think seeing her on a regular basis has kept my typical overuse/running injuries at bay (*knock on wood*).
Question of the Day
What are some of the “behind the scenes” things you do to help recovery and/or better your performance during training?
Refueling is huge for me because for along time I wouldn’t. I have to remind myself to take in some protein immediately.
These compression socks and leggings and stuff–are you supposed to wear then after or during the workout?
I need me a massage! Foam rolling and compression socks are my go to’s no matter what type of training, especially when I’m on my feet the whole day after otherwise I suffer with peripheral edema.
Psst..just a heads up, foam rolling your lower back is actually not recommended by most docs. The muscles that surround and protect our spines operate involuntarily, so a lot of times they actually tense up because of the pressure to the spine (due to the roller) and that can set you up for damage/brusing/injury! (At least that’s what my Dr says!)
Thank you for this post! I’m training for my first half marathon and I’m always looking for advice and tips to help keep me healthy and injury free! Can’t wait to hear about how you’ll rock the Boston Marathon! ðŸ˜„
It’s so great you take the time to do all of that! I always knew you should but I was always so lazy after runs. After my long runs I would sit on the couch the rest of the weekend. I wouldn’t foam roll. It just wasn’t good.
Foam rolling is a must for me. It is so painful but so effective. I had IT band syndrome a few years ago and started foam rolling. I’ve never had a problem since! Way cheaper than physiotherapy too!
I am with you on the compression socks – I love the way they feel after a long run but I cannot wear them at night! When I’m training, one key thing for me is sleep. I have to nap a lot to keep my body fueled with rest.
Yes to the compression socks. They just feel so good after a hard workout! I’ve recently gotten into dry needling. They put acupuncture needles into sore muscles and maneuver them a bit. It really helps with recovery and breaking up tightness.
I love this post and may do something similar in the future! I swear by NUUN, compression socks and my vitamins! 🙂
have you tried cocogo? that’s my favorite refueling drink – it’s freeze dried coconut water and all natural – i seriously love it!
Thanks for sharing! I am going to be running my 1st ever marathon in September so this post was very insightful and I’ve already saved it to look back and implement a lot of the same things! 🙂
Foam Rolling is definitely something that’s important to me! I should do it more, but when I do it, I immediately feel so much better. I also am really careful about what I eat all day- I used to not care what I ate and would always feel like crap for my run and never knew why. Now that I pay attention to the food I eat (especially on running days) I feel full of energy and fresh!
I love M&M’s..and I’m not criticizing..but isn’t there a better form of ‘sugar’ to have. I know , I know its a treat but there are lara bars, kind bars, fruit etc that just has better ingrediants.
@Stacy: I’m a dietitian and I actually think that (a moderate amount) of plain peanut M&Ms could be just as good as a Lara Bar or a Kind Bar. A cherry dark choco Kind bar (my fave) has 14 g sugar”¦ I have one sitting around 🙂 a “regular” single serve size package of peanut M&Ms has 25 grams, so yes, more sugar, but it has 1 gram MORE protein than the Kind bar and the equivalent amount of fiber (all these good things are due to the whole peanuts within the M&Ms)”¦ just interesting things to think about. We consider Kind bars somehow more healthy, but every now and then it’s not such a bad swap.
HI Ella, a little amt here and there,sure! But you cant really compare to lara or kind bars since they just have few ingrediants and no added dyes, corn syrups etc. they really shouldn’t be in the same sentence as M&M’s LOL
just being honest 🙂 oh and the ‘sugar’ in Kind/laras are mostly natural based. depends really which one. some better than others. and its not so much the actual grams/calories, its the content. and please, don’t make it seem I will have good fiber from eating m&m’s! i’ll stick to my apple. LOL! .so im sure being a dietitican, you would be aware of that..and I didn’t make my orig. comment to go head to head w/ someone, I know alot more than I write so just throwing an honest opinion out there, that is all –
@Stacy: She sat down and ate a few M&M’s from a bag – I’m sure she doesn’t eat a bag a day nor does she really think about the fact that people are going to pounce on her for it. Why are you taking issue with something so minor?! Really? Maybe you’re the one that’s making something so minute into such a bigger deal.
SIGH, @Jen, I said this:
I know its a treat but there are lara bars, kind bars, fruit etc that just has better ingrediants.
don’t think I was ‘pouncing’ on anybody. bye byeeeeee
Thanks for this, Tina! I’m training for my first marathon on April 25th in Nashville and I have found that drinking a glass of chocolate milk after every long run has made me a happier runner. It is the best thing I’ve ever tasted after a good 16+ mile run. I drink it while icing my knees. Great tips! Good luck at Boston! You’ll do great!
@Jessica: are you doing the country music half?! great race. make sure to train for hills 🙂
@mary @ minutes per mile: @Jessica: and by half, i mean full!
I religiously take Triflex Sport (from GNC)- it keeps my knee pain at bay completely. The shrimp cartilage works wonders and it is the ONLY thing that keeps me running!
Love my compression socks! Wearing them right now actually 🙂 Foam rolling is great too if done consistently, which I’m not great at. I’ve never had a sports massage but that sounds amazing 🙂
Ohh peanut m&ms! I should probably add those to my recovery routine!
When I trained for my half last year I worked at a PT clinic and I started having some issues with my knee/IT band/ who knows. I would regularly get dry needling done to break up the overactive/tight muscles which allowed some of the stress to be taken off my knee by tight muscles!
Hot showers and cross-training. When I wasn’t running I was cycling to keep up my stamina and to help save my knees! And hot showers and slipping into my sweats after a long run was just glorious!
training for my 9th marathon over here, i think i’ve learned a thing or two during the process :). one behind-the-scenes thing i try to do almost daily is WALK. since i have a desk job and sit down most of the day, i add additional stress to my glutes, hips, and hamstrings by sitting down. walking stretches them out again. i try to take a 30-45 minute walk over my lunch break most days. even if it’s raining, i’ll just walk inside the office building!
I love foam rolling! I’m not training for any events except for life (hah!), but foam rolling is always a go-to thing for me no matter what. Hurts so good & helps so much!
Do you notice a taste to the Cod Liver Pills and have you noticed a difference? I’ve been thinking about buying them!
They have kind of a fishy taste, but you can get different flavors of it.
Nice, Tina. I like that you’ve established so many rituals around the recovery portion, and not just the running portion. Cod liver oil? Hmmm… very interesting. I haven’t heard of or taken it, but always down to try something new. Cool!
I too have officially listened to too many Balanced Bites podcasts! 🙂 I started taking the Fermented Cod liver Oil / butter oil blend and have noticed a huge difference in how fast I can recover from Crossfit! I used to get really intense DOMS but now, it’s much more mild. Not sure if it’s the Fish Oil or just me getting stronger but it can’t hurt, right? Love that stuff!
Ahhhh…foam rolling! I have a love/ hate relationship with my foam rollers. They always hurt so good.
Always compression socks and foam rolling. I eat a TON of pretzels. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I’m mid-training cycle, I crave pretzels. It’s gotta be the ice and carby goodness.
I am huge on foam rolling and icing as well! I think fueling is a big part of training as well, I try to eat a carb heavy but still focus on some protein right after my runs too. Even if I just have half a protein bar and eat lunch and hour later, anything immediately after helps. I also have been taking BCAA’s before and after my runs as well as casein protein shakes before bed that help repair my muscles and aid in the recovery process! We are so lucky to have so many great resources around 🙂
Even though I’m not a marathon runner (I don’t run any races actually, I just like running for fun), this was so interesting to read!
You’ve got such a smart regiment. I’m superstitious about getting right to it too. If it works, why challenge what you’ve dialed in. I like epsom salt baths and topical products too. Young Living PanAway or Deep Blue by DoTerra. They both really help get into any sore spots and help along the natural healing process!
Tina you are making me super excited to train for a marathon in 2016! I’ve finished 5 marathons over the years and now I have a 2 week old daughter so I know I won’t train hard this year.
My recovery method was similar to yours: finish a long run and drink a protein shake while taking an ice bath. Follow up with compression socks and foam rolling. And I could usually convince my husband to rub my feet that night too.
Good luck with the rest of your training!
I absolutely love sports massages and can’t believe it took me years to finally start getting them. I see my massage therapist every 3-4 weeks, and many of the athletes at our box go to her. She’s become one of my favorite people, especially after a long day at work when my neck and back are really tight.
Love these tips! I suffer from serious back problems and would love an every other week sports massage, but … $$$. Does your insurance cover any of it?
Also, I’ve learned from many PTs that you should not foam roll your lower back, as most people already have a tilted pelvis/curve there anyhow. Though maybe you’ve heard differently or the rules change if you have scoliosis.
Good luck with your race!!! I’ll be cheering for ya!
Sadly, my insurance doesn’t cover any of the costs.
Love behind the scenes type posts! And gosh, even half marathons make me hungry enough to have cereal in the middle of the night. 🙂
My compression socks have been a lifesaver! That and my foam roller are my fitness essentials if I had to only choose two things to keep.
Great info! I may have missed this but are you nursing anymore? I am 12 weeks PP and looking to start running longer again and wondering how you managed that!
I stopped breastfeeding about 6 months ago, so I don’t have much advice. Sorry. Here’s my story if you’re curious: http://carrotsncake.com/2015/01/some-breastfeeding-questions-answers.html
I have trouble eating after a long run because my stomach hurts when I eat so I still search for the best post run snack. I would definitely feel sick from a protein shake. I’ve tried chocolate milk, Gatorade, and tons of other foods. Now I just eat a few crackers, stretch and shower, then eat a meal an hour or so after. I just ran my 3rd half marathon on Saturday and am seriously considering signing up for the chicago marathon… I’m so scared to though!! 🙂
I do a few of the same things…I wish I could get a massage every two weeks though! And as much as I hate foam rolling, it has helped a lot with recovery for me in the past.
I am new to this whole running thing so I apologize if this is a stupid question. I thought compression socks were to be wore during your run, but I have seen people wearing them after running. Are you supposed to use them after you run?
You can wear them during or after. Both have benefits. It’s totally personal preference! ðŸ˜„
Yum!!! Protein shakes and peanut M&Ms 🙂 😉 I also tried the almond Easter-egg-shaped M&Ms recently – I loved those too!