Best Recovery Ever

Six years ago I ran my first marathon, Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. After the race I got in the car with my family and drove to Florida. I popped the max recommended dosage of Advil all the way down there, and for days afterward. My legs were really sore and I didn’t know any better. I didn’t ice. I didn’t wear compression gear. I just took my Vitamin I and assumed that was what I should be doing.

I did a good amount of walking as we were visiting Disney World, so at least I helped the blood flow to my legs, albeit drug-carrying blood. Of course, since we were at Disney I ate junk for 4 days, which certainly didn’t help. I was sore for at least a week, probably more. I assumed this was normal.

Six years on I am older (duh) and wiser. Post-race I ice and put on compression socks or tights. I do not take ANY ibuprofen. At all. Numerous studies have shown that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen actually delays your body’s natural recovery. (Just google it…)

After I ran The North Face 50K, which by all accounts was a painful venture, I focused on resting, icing, and taking anti-inflammatory foods. I knew of a few, such as tart cherries and turmeric, but I googled “Anti-inflammatory foods” to find others and came across a great site called The Conscious Life that lists the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods and their benefits.

Broccoli, papaya, cherries - all anti-inflammatory foods

First up I made a smoothie with papaya and blueberries while sipping on some green tea. Then, for dinner, I made tofu stir fry with broccoli, mushrooms, and ginger. I ate that with some quinoa which has a lot of protein, great for muscle recovery.

The result? I have had the best long distance recovery ever. And this was my longest event by 35 minutes.  The day after the race I was predictably sore, going down the stairs backwards, etc. But the following day I was pretty much back to normal. I biked for over an hour and felt great. By Wednesday, 4 days post-race, I was hammering through a time trial on the bike, and on Friday I rode 35 miles at a good clip.

I think what also helped was my pre-race eating and hydration. I was sure to take in plenty of salt in the days prior to the race. I salted all my food and ate some sodium-rich soups. I hydrated well, alternating nuun and water. During the race I drank almost 140 oz of fluid, over 20 oz per hour, which is a lot for me. The weather was cool, which also helped. I know I was well hydrated because 1) when I weighed myself when I got home I had gained weight, and no, I did not make a fast food stop on the way home… and 2) I peed A LOT during the 2 days post-race. I know, you really wanted to know that.

What do you eat/drink post-race?

Are you a (former) NSAID pill popper?




  1. Great post! I still see people taking NSAIDs during ultras and marathons. The word is out there, but people haven’t quite grasped it yet, it seems.

    In my first couple of years of ultrarunning, I used to take one NSAID about 4 hours into a 50K. Then I stopped doing it, and lo and behold, the body provides its own pain reliever.

    I no longer take NSAIDs for recovery after an ultra. I will take one ibuprofen to help me sleep if my leg muscles are really painful, but I try to wait until at least the second night post-race. And I too focus on refueling and compression to recover. I think it makes a huge difference!
    ultrarunnergirl recently posted..A Family AffairMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      I like that comment, “the body provides its own pain reliever.” So true! Great to meet you last week.

  2. Wow- I love this post, such great info!! I’m marking it for future reference… not sure when my next marathon will be, but I love these tips. I’ve only done one full so far, and recovery wasn’t terrible, but could have been better. Awesome that you bounced back so quickly!
    Laura recently posted..When to call it quits?My Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Thanks, Laura! I think this can help any time, even when you’re not doing long runs. Maybe for the next run streak?!


  1. […] the box each week) and it happened to contain 2 pints of tart cherries! I posted not long ago about anti-inflammatory foods and, while tart cherries weren’t on the list for some reason, they’re known among […]

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