7 Things (NOT) to Do On Long Run Days

Long Run

Exhaus­tion. Won­der­ful, ful­fill­ing exhaus­tion. You know, that feel­ing that over­comes you as you take the final few steps of your week­ly long run. You did it. You got up before the sun, fueled prop­er­ly, and spent the whole morn­ing putting miles under your feet and ful­fill­ing one of your most impor­tant train­ing oblig­a­tions. As you slow to a walk and breathe a sigh of sat­is­fied relief, you’re prob­a­bly already think­ing about what’s next.  That’s where so many run­ners make their first—of many—mistakes after a long run. Here are a few of the most com­mon mis­takes run­ners make on their long run days; if you’re guilty of a few (aren’t we all?!), just remem­ber that it’s nev­er too late to change your ways—there’s always your next run.

Overindulge in Post-Run Foods
You just burned 1,000–2,000 calo­ries. To say you’re hun­gry is a severe under­state­ment, and any­thing you eat in those first cou­ple hours fol­low­ing your run is going to be the best damn fill-in-the-blank you’ve ever had. It’s beyond easy to reach for those foods you spent all week avoid­ing because you know they’re hor­ri­ble for you. You know they will taste deli­cious, you feel like you’ve “earned” them, and they are so con­ve­nient. But don’t do it. Just don’t. They will like­ly replace many—if not all—of those hard-earned burned calo­ries with emp­ty calo­ries and heaps of guilt and dis­ap­point­ment. Instead, feed those hunger pains with pro­tein-rich foods, veg­eta­bles, and oth­er nutri­tious foods that are still going to taste devine. After all—you earned it.

Ice Bath, Schmice Bath
This one is real­ly easy to talk your­self out of. Unless you’re Wim Hof, ice baths suck. They are gen­er­al­ly mis­er­able and con­sist of see­ing how long you can endure a form of tor­ture fol­low­ing a long run (arguably anoth­er form of tor­ture). It just seems mean to sug­gest to run­ners to com­ply with the ice bath sug­ges­tion but, like so many help­ful things in life, the sug­ges­tion keeps pop­ping up for a very good reason—it works. It does won­ders in reduc­ing swelling and inflam­ma­tion in your trau­ma­tized mus­cles, also notice­ably reduc­ing pain and sore­ness as your recov­er. Ice baths are not fun. They are not relax­ing. They are not enjoy­able in the least. But they are total­ly worth it.

Ener­giz­er Bun­ny Syn­drome.
You just ran a load of miles—you feel invin­ci­ble! Sore, tired, and hobbling—but invin­ci­ble! So, you agree to meet a friend for a walk, do the week­ly gro­cery shop­ping, pick up the kids from gym­nas­tics, wash the car, mow the lawn, and clean out the entire attic. Then, it’s 5 p.m. and you col­lapse on the couch, feel­ing sick to your stom­ach and fight­ing off a migraine. You did way too much today. Even if you feel great through­out your long run, it’s still more than your body is used to doing at one time—after all, the point of a long run is to pre­pare your feet and mind for the extreme chal­lenge of the long dis­tance race. You need to respect that. Give your body the care it deserves after accom­plish­ing such a feat, and go easy the rest of the day. You don’t have to be a couch pota­to, but the attic can wait, per­haps the kids or your part­ner could wash the car, and the grass won’t be notably longer if you wait one more day to cut it.

Stretching

Skip Stretch­ing
You just com­plet­ed more miles than you’ve run the rest of the week com­bined. You’re tired. You just want to go home, take a hot show­er, and sit down. Of course, we all want that after our long run. Some of us do exact­ly that. And others—the ones more like­ly to actu­al­ly make it unin­jured to the race they’re train­ing for —take the extra ten min­utes and stretch before head­ing home. Yes, stretch­ing usu­al­ly sounds as appeal­ing as apply­ing hydro­gen per­ox­ide to your burst blis­ter, but it’s just as help­ful for a clean out­come. If you’ve already ded­i­cat­ed hours to a sin­gle run, what is ten more min­utes that will help work some lac­tic acid out of your poor tired mus­cles and reduce sore­ness later?

You Got­ta Fight For Your Right to Paaaaar­ty!
Whether you’ve caught a sec­ond (or third or fourth) wind, or you are want­i­ng to make up for the “lost time” your long run took from your day, too many run­ners stay up as late as usu­al, or even lat­er than usu­al, on long run days. Huge mis­take. Trust us, as soon as you lie down, you’ll be out for the count.

Your long run may only take a cou­ple hours out of your day to phys­i­cal­ly run, but you real­ly ought to ded­i­cate the whole day to doing the long run right, which includes prop­er recov­ery. This train­ing is help­ing you be a bet­ter you in so many ways, but it does­n’t stop just because the run is over.

By Audra Run­dle