7 Things To NOT Do After A Long Run

Dont Do After A Long Run

Sometimes, you actually have to do things to know what doesn’t work for you. To confirm it’s not just a thing people say, but a thing people say for a reason. For me as a runner, this means knowing what works (and what doesn’t) the afternoon after a marathon training long run.

Sadly, this post could alternatively be called ‘a list of things Sara has done after long runs and later come to regret.’

What Not To Do After A Long Run

I do more of these things than I should admit. Consider this post a case of do as I say, not as I do.

Dont Do After A Long Run

Be A Couch Potato

It will be tempting to do nothing after a long run. After all, you’ll be tired and you’ve earned some rest, right?

Not so fast!

If you sit on the couch and don’t move, your muscles will tighten up.

You will really regret it when you have to move again.

After your run

  • Stretch and cool down properly.
  • Keep moving through the day so your muscles stay loose.
  • Foam roll or use The Stick a bit later in the afternoon.
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood or an easy bike ride the afternoon after a long run. Nothing too strenuous, but keep your body and your muscles moving, at least a little.

Not Refuel /Rehydrate

I’m often not very hungry when I finish a long run. By the time I finish stretching and cooling-down, I’ll often forget to eat.

This is bad.

After a long run, your body will be depleted. Even if you’ve fueled well on the run, your body’s stores of carbs, glycogen, protein, and water will all be running low.

In order to rebuild the muscles that you’ve broken down on your run, refuel.

After your run

  • Eat something with a carb to protein ratio of 3:1 (think peanut butter toast) within 20 minutes of finishing.
  • Eat a full meal within 3-4 hours.

Stay in Running Clothes

My apologies for TMI, but I am a super sweaty runner. I could run 100 yards in near freezing temps and I’d likely break a sweat. Can you imagine what I look like after a long run?

I’m often far from home for my long runs, or running with a group where we may socialize or brunch after a long run.

All that to say, I often find myself staying in my running clothes way longer than I should after a long run.

It can be very bad to stay in sweating running clothes when you are done running. It creates all kinds of bacteria and fungus issues.

Staying in damp clothes can also make body temperature issues worse. After a long run, how can I be freezing and roasting at the same time?

I have no idea, but staying in damp running clothes doesn’t help.

After your run

  • If you are at home, get out of running clothes and shower ASAP.
  • If you are out and about, do a wet wipe shower and change in your car or a nearby bathroom

Ignoring Rest And Recovery

This one has never been a problem for me personally, but I know some people struggle with it: after a long run, you need to let your body recover.

The day after a long run should be a rest day or an easy run/active recovery day. Don’t do an intense or difficult workout the afternoon of or the day after a long run.

Leave the track work and speed work for a few days after a long run.

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Rocket Science Or Brain Surgery

OK, not those things exactly, but anything requiring brain power.

Runner’s Brain is a very real thing. The glycogen that fuels your body also fuels your brain. As you run (and your glycogen is depleted) your brain may get a little fuzzy.

I can usually feel myself starting to get stupider around mile 14.

After your run

  • Don’t make any important decision, or anything requiring major brainpower, the afternoon after a long run.
  • Refuel (but you are already doing that from above, right?)
  • Be easy on yourself and arrange your day (and your to-do list) accordingly.

Have That Important Conversation

Related to not doing brain surgery, don’t do anything that requires (or potentially requires) emotional control or restraint.

Again, you’ll be emotionally and physically exhausted. When that happens, it can be hard to control your emotions.

After your run

  • Make sure family/loved ones know what to expect.
  • Try to notice if/when you are losing your patience or temper. This is good advice for always, but especially on long run days, when you’ll have a (much?) shorter trigger.

Don’t Give In To Cravings

Long run days can be a dangerous one-two punch:

  1. You’ll be tired, so your brain may crave fatty, high-calorie foods (even more so than usual); and
  2. You’ll have worked out hard, so you may be more inclined to treat yourself.

There is even a name for this: hedonic compensation. Rewarding yourself for doing something virtuous.

I can’t in good conscience advise to not treat yourself.

I know the ‘right’ fitness advice is to not use food as a reward for fitness accomplishments, but I know, after years of trial and error, it is one of the few rewards that consistently works for me, so I do it.

Rare is my long run that isn’t rewarded by pizza, a can of coke, and/or a cupcake.

That’s right, I said ‘and.’ I’m not ashamed.

After your run

  • Don’t use food as a reward for fitness accomplishments (sorry, I still had to include it. It’s good advice, even if I don’t follow it myself).
  • If you are going to reward yourself with food, plan it out in advance. Don’t buy a dozen cupcakes and tell yourself you’ll only have one after the run. One will lead to two, which will lead to three (not that I know that from first-hand experience or anything).

What about you? Is there anything you know you shouldn’t do after a long run?

Not After Long Run

Sara is a runner, running coach, writer, blogger, and a lover of all things written.

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