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4 easy self-care practices for busy runners to speed recovery


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Runners know that after putting in miles, your body needs some serious TLC, stat. How else can you be ready to do it again in a few days?

Because of this, many find practicing self-care as essential a part of their fitness routines as speed work and hill drills.

And while the idea of a spa day is tantalizing, anyone who works and manages to log lots of miles per week knows that time is a luxury—especially after you factor in families, social obligations, and, perhaps, a passionate side hustle. So I asked four female marathoners for their go-to self-care tips that are effective, but quick and easy to do.

Scroll down to see 4 self-care rituals they say every runner should add to their recovery routine.

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Runner recovery: Self-care tips from marathoners
Photo: Stocksy/Michela Ravasio

1. Just breathe

“Between chasing two kids, managing a household, running my business, and trying to fit in running, I get really overwhelmed,” admits 10-time half-marathoner (and one-time full marathoner) Erica Sara Reese, founder of Erica Sara Designs. “So when those feelings arise, I stop whatever I’m doing, close my eyes, and take five deep, slow breaths. I learned this from the book Breathe, Mama, Breathe, and it’s so simple, but so helpful. I’ve even taught my son to do it. We stop what we’re doing, hug, and hold each other for a few deep breaths. It’s amazing what a little oxygen can do to calm the mind and deactivate that fight-or-flight mechanism.”

2. Keep learning

“Self-care, for me, is an evolving process,” says Alison Désir, founder of Harlem Run.When you know better, you do better, and I’m always seeking to learn more. The coolest thing I learned this year was about the importance of the psoas muscle, [which runs along your lower spine and pelvis and helps you move your leg]. I had never even heard of my psoas until I got a deep-tissue sports massage. Lo and behold, [it] was the source of my hip pain.”

Runner recovery: Self-care tips from marathoners
Photo: Stocksy/Milles Studio

3. Make time for massages

“I’ve noticed that the more self-care I do to enhance recovery, the better I run,” says pro runner Allie Kieffer. “Massages give me the biggest boost, so I make sure to get a deep-tissue massage every week. I also eat carbohydrates immediately after a workout to replenish my glycogen stores.”

4. Let a bath work its multitasking magic

Epsom salt baths have become my top form of self-care these days,” says Alice Saunders, founder of Forestbound, and a 3:19 marathoner. “I get practical relief for my sore muscles, but I also get to spend 30 minutes alone with just a book and a glass of wine—or a recovery smoothie. My body requires a lot of maintenance, and I get really sick of having to carve out time every night to stretch or foam roll. With an Epsom salt bath, I feel like I’m relaxing and not doing anything, but I’m actually taking care of my hard-working muscles.”

Keep your cool-down dynamic: Here’s how to embrace active recovery. And here’s the super effective, post-run recovery method marathoning model Karlie Kloss swears by.

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