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 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.
- Ultramarathon Running: Ice Baths For Recovery (dallanmanscill.com)