Active Recovery After Running An Ultramarathon


Active Recovery

After running ultras, I have followed two different methods for recovery. The two different methods are first total complete rest and the second is active recovery. Both have benefits depending on the circumstances of where you are with your fitness and your needs for recovery.

Total Complete Rest

Total complete rest is to do nothing in the way of exercise and training. In my experience I have found that this is a less effective way to recover from an ultra marathon. I only think this method is effective if there is an injury that was sustained while running. In that case rest is the best thing to heal from injury.

Active Recovery

Active recovery refers to being active in the recovery process after an ultramarathon. The best way to be active in recovering is to do something different other than running. Such as walking, biking, and/or swimming. Studies have shown that active recovery helps in the removal of lactic acid. With the removal of lactic acid comes the removal of muscle soreness. Also, in my personal experience active recovery helps me psychological to mentally get back into running and training for my next race. Interestingly, I have found that it is easier to rest when using active recovery to recover. I think that is because to rest I first need to be tired and active recovery helps me to to be tired which makes resting more relaxing.

An important component to active recovery is to do low intensity workouts and to do something different other than your main focus activity (in the case of this blog that is running). Doing something different whether it is walking, biking, and/or swimming works different muscles, but also works running muscle in a different way.

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5 responses to “Active Recovery After Running An Ultramarathon”

  1. Mind Margins/Run Nature says :

    My experience in running marathons has been exactly the same. Walking seems to work the best for me the first few days after a marathon, and within a few days I can transition to a very slow run. It’s incredible what a difference it makes, as opposed to complete rest, and how much quicker I recover.

    • Dallan says :

      Couldn’t agree more! Walking, biking…and then gradually getting back into running has been the most effective way of recovery for me too! Thanks for the comment

  2. AndrewGills says :

    I am 2 events into my 12-in-12 Challenge and have learned:
    – After my 50km trail in July I had a hot shower and did a bit of light walking after 2-3 days. My ankle was swollen and my legs were sore for about 5 days.
    – After my marathon on Sunday I had a cold bath and my legs haven’t felt sore. However, I have slightly strained my right hamstring so have been resting the past 3 days with the exception of some short slow holiday walks. If I weren’t running another 50km event in 17 days I’d go for a light run tomorrow but I can’t risk turning the strain into an injury so will wait until Friday. However, I hope to go for a longer walk tomorrow evening and to start running again on Friday.

    Perhaps after the 50km trail on 15 September I will be able to get on my bike during the week after the event.

    I’m enjoying your blog. It’s helpful to me at this stage in my ultra running career.

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