It is pretty much assumed that you are going to be sore after running at some point. And the longer (both in time or distance) your run the more likely you are to be sore afterwards, and not just immediately afterwards, but for up to several days afterwards. When I ran my first half marathon, I wasn’t terribly sore when the race was over, and I was more tired than sore the rest of the day (I felt well enough to spend a few hours at Animal Kingdom after the race). But I was sore and stiff for about 2 days afterwards. And that was because I didn’t implement a proper recovery plan. Some of it has to do with nutrition, and will be covered in an upcoming post, but a lot of it could have been avoided with a few simple pieces of recovery gear.
Please remember, these are basic strategies to help with common soreness, if you are experiencing pain or the soreness doesn’t go away after a few days, please consult your doctor.
It’s a fact of running that your legs and feet will experience swelling. This is especially true if you are running a 10k or longer distance, or running for duration of longer than 60-90 minutes. Compression helps keep the swelling under control (as well as improves circulation), which speeds up your muscle’s healing and recovery. You do not necessarily need full compression leggings. Your compression should target the areas with the most noticeable swelling or soreness. For some people that are the ankles (in which case compression socks are what you need), others it’s the calves and knees, and some people experience swelling in their arms.
There are two schools of thought about when to wear compression. Some people like to wear it during their runs, and some prefer to put it on after their race/workout. There have been a few studies that show that compression is more effective for recovery when put on after a long run; however some people find that localized swelling, especially in specific joints like the ankle or knee, can affect their performance during their run. For example: I ran a 17 mile training run recently; I had to walk the last mile and a half of it because the swelling in my knee was so bad that it made continuing to run rather difficult and somewhat painful. The swelling and pain has subsided by the next day, which indicated that it was not due to injury. So for my next long run, I will be giving compression a try (however, I have also made an appointment to see my doctor so we can determine what is causing the swelling and if there is anything we can do to prevent it from happening).
As I mentioned way back in Part One of this gear series, when I’m not running, I’m usually either barefoot or in flip-flops. The first thing I always want to do after crossing the finish line at a race is to sit down and take my shoes and socks off. Of course walking around barefoot is not acceptable in most public places (and definitely isn’t allowed or advisable at Disney), so putting on a pair of sandals/flip-flops is the way to go. You want to let your feet breathe for a bit after the abuse you just put them through.
I made the mistake of wearing the same flip-flops I wear every day after my first half marathon. During the post-race brunch it wasn’t a problem. But then I spent the next few hours walking around Disney World. Then I regretted it. Although these shoes are what I normally wear for a day at the parks, I did not take into account the needs of my feet/legs post-race. I had no arch support of any sort, and nowhere near enough cushion.
Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume your normal park shoes will be sufficient to enjoy a day at the parks after a race. There are specially-made recovery footwear, and I can tell you from experience that they are worth the money. The most popular brand is Oofos, and they can usually be purchased at most running specialty stores, as well as at the Expo at most runDisney events (Fit2Run’s booth usually carries them, you’ll also find them at the Fit2Run store in Disney Springs) however many major athletic brands (like Nike) also make recovery footwear. These shoes are specially designed to absorb impact, making walking easier on your tired joints, and the better brands (like Oofos) also provide arch support.
Lots of runners have a love-hate relationship with Foam Rollers. This is because they provide a lot of benefit, but they are not exactly enjoyable to use. Foam Rollers help stretch and massage tight muscles, working out knots and improving circulation. Improved circulation helps speed recovery, but stretching and massaging tight and sore muscles are not exactly a fun. Runner’s World has a lot of great articles and videos showing how to use a foam roller to target different muscle groups. As far as selecting a foam roller, I would definitely head to your local running store or other athletic/sports store and find someone to help guide you in selecting the right one for you. They come in various densities, from soft to firm. It is recommended that beginners start with a softer density and as they get used to doing the exercises move up to more firm rollers. There are also rollers with nubs and smooth rollers. The best way to select the right one for you is to try a few out with the guidance of a knowledge sales Peron at your local running/sports store.
Spent any time at longer distance races and you’ll likely see runners with brightly colored tape over various parts of their body. This is Kinesiology tape, most commonly known by its brand name KT Tape. I absolutely love KT Tape. It may seem odd that small pieces of brightly colored tape can make a difference, but it does! I use it on the back of my knee to help with the swelling and soreness I experience on my longer runs. When I first started having knee issues I would use it post-run to help with recovery, but now that my runs are longer I used it during my run to give me more distance before the swelling would start. So how does KT Tape work? According to its website “Depending on how it is applied, KT Tape supports, enables, or restricts soft tissue and its movement. By stretching and recoiling like a rubber band, KT Tape augments tissue function and distributes loads away from inflamed or damaged muscles and tendons, thereby protecting tissues from further injury.”
The KT Tape website has how-to videos for application for virtually every common ache and pain, as well as a few common injuries like Shin Splints, Tendonitis, and Plantar Fasciitis. Remember KT tape is not a long term treatment strategy for injury, nor is it intended for used acute or extended pain. It is a great recovery aid, as well as short term treatment for common pain associated with the abuse runners and other athletes put their body under. If you are experiencing persistent or acute pain please see a doctor to ensure that you are not suffering from a stress fracture or other injury.
TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark and Tali McPike. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them at www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/addie/ and www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/tali/
If you are planning on running in a runDisney event and have questions, or have participated and want to talk about your experiences make sure you visit our runDisney Forum at http://goo.gl/RLB5ka
- Racing Disney: The Importance of Tapering - January 4, 2016
- Racing Disney: Running (But Not Racing) at Walt Disney World - November 30, 2015
- Racing Disney: How Running Changed My Life - November 23, 2015