Post-Race Recovery


Did I put a picture of a sleeping kitten to attract people to the blog? No comment.

Last weekend, Galen Rupp ran an indoor two-mile race in 8:07.41. This was an American record and the seventh fastest time ever. As much attention as his race received, his post-race workout may have gotten even more. Rupp took fifteen minutes off and then hit the track for mile repeats – he went 4:21, 4:20, 4:20, 4:16 and 4:01 (with 400m recovery in between each rep). That is some impressive stuff. While I feel like it was a bit of a publicity stunt (and a successful one at that), I would not recommend trying it yourself.

Racing takes a lot out of you, and if you don’t recover properly, you are going to significantly increase the likelihood of getting an injury. Of course, recovery is different for everyone. It might mean taking a day off. It might mean going for an easy run the next day. It might just mean lowering your mileage total for that week. The point is, I wouldn’t recommend running mile repeats shortly after your race (as Amby Burfoot wrote in Runner’s World, we’ll leave those workouts to Galen

Personally, after a race, I run a cooldown that is a couple of miles. I will also take it easy for the next day or two, depending upon my level of soreness. Often, I will wear compression socks to help with my recovery.


Here’s an easy rule of thumb: the number of recovery days you need will equal the number of miles of the race.

5k = 3 recovery days
10k = 6 recovery days
half marathon = 13 recovery days
marathon = 26 recovery days

Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run during that time. It doesn’t even mean you shouldn’t do hard workouts. It just means that you might be at an increased risk of injury if you push too hard and you shouldn’t expect to perform your best within those recovery windows.

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10 Responses to Post-Race Recovery

  1. KITTY!!

    after my last 50k i decided to take a recovery hike from the base to the top of vail mountain so i could take pictures of a few views that i saw during the race. it really helped work out any lingering soreness. so that’s my recovery plan for 2014 – hike it out!

  2. WalkToRio says:

    I’ve never tried compression socks, I usually take 1-2 days off, then a couple of easy days and back to regular training.

  3. Good for him for that workout, I think it showed he is capable of a lot more to come. I most definitely wouldn’t recommend that to anyone to elite runners with a coach though. I think it’s a recipe for injury.

    I normally take a few easy days off (sometimes I’ll cross train the day after…sometimes not) but either way I’m not pushing any paces.

  4. The kitty worked! Haha! Great post as always. However, I almost started questioning you after seeing getting drunk as a recovery option haha! I guess, it may be a good option if a race didn’t go well at all, like if a bird pooped on your face for everyone to see or something :))) I’ve never run as much as you do, but I like to do some stretching, yoga or an easy cardio.


    • Jason says:

      do you always stretch before and after your workouts?

      • I attempt to 🙂 But in the given example, I was talking not about pre- or post-run stretches, but more like gymnastics stretching as I was used to do it for over 10 years 🙂 Sorry for not clarifying. However, I have to admit that I have to stretch more before running because very often I forget to simply because I’m trying to make sure that no one else gets on my treadmill 😀

  5. Robin says:

    kitten! ❤

    yeah, i just get schwasted after races.

  6. Pingback: EPO | Must Love Jogs

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