How to Recover From a Trail Run

Are you a trail runner looking to improve your post-run recovery? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explore the essential practices and techniques for how to recover from a trail run. Whether you’re training for an ultra marathon, half marathon, or simply looking to improve your fitness and run faster, recovery is a crucial aspect of trail running. As an experienced trail runner myself, I understand the importance of proper recovery practices and have incorporated them into my own ultramarathon training plan. So let’s dive in and discover how to optimize your recovery for improved performance and long-term success as a trail runner. Along the way, we’ll also hear from Slaura Norris, an accomplished trail runner with invaluable insights and advice on the topic.

How to Recover From a Trail Run

Pre-recovery Practices

Hydration is key

As a trail runner, I’ve learned the hard way that pre-recovery practices are just as important as post-run recovery. Before heading out on a trail run, it’s essential to properly hydrate and fuel your body with the right nutrition.

Hydration is key to maintaining energy levels and preventing dehydration, which can lead to a decline in performance and an increased risk of injury. It’s recommended to drink at least 17-20 ounces of water or sports drink 2-3 hours before a run, and an additional 7-10 ounces 10-20 minutes before starting. For longer runs, it’s important to bring water or sports drinks with you to stay hydrated throughout the run.

In addition to hydration, proper nutrition is crucial for pre-recovery practices. Eating a balanced meal with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats 2-3 hours before a run can provide the energy needed to power through the trail. For shorter runs, a light snack such as a banana or energy bar can suffice. It’s important to avoid high-fat or high-fiber foods before a run, as they can cause gastrointestinal distress.

But pre-recovery practices aren’t just limited to hydration and nutrition. Proper stretching before and after a trail run can also play a significant role in injury prevention and improved recovery. Dynamic stretching, which involves active movements that mimic the motion of running, can help warm up the muscles and increase flexibility. Static stretching, which involves holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds, can help improve range of motion and reduce muscle soreness.

Immediate Post-run Recovery Practices


Now that we’ve covered the pre-recovery practices, let’s talk about the immediate post-run recovery practices that are just as crucial for trail runners. Cooling down after a trail run can help reduce the risk of injury and improve recovery time.

After a long trail run, it’s important to cool down by gradually reducing the intensity of your workout. Walking or slow jogging for 5-10 minutes can help your body transition from a high-intensity workout to a state of rest, allowing your heart rate and breathing to gradually return to their resting state.

Stretching is also important for immediate post-run recovery. Incorporating static stretching exercises, such as hamstring stretches, quadricep stretches, and calf stretches, can help reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility. It’s important to hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds to allow the muscle to fully relax and elongate.

Proper nutrition is also crucial for post-run recovery. Consuming a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of completing a run can help restore glycogen levels and repair muscle tissue. Foods such as Greek yogurt, eggs, or a protein shake with fruit can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal recovery.

Greek yogurt

Long-term Recovery Practices

After a challenging trail run, it’s crucial to give your body the time it needs to recover. Rest is an essential part of the recovery process and can be just as important as the run itself. In addition to rest, incorporating active recovery into your routine can help you bounce back faster and prevent injury.

As a trail runner myself, I understand the importance of giving my body the time it needs to recover. After a long run, I make sure to give myself at least a day of rest before jumping back into my routine. This helps my muscles repair and recover from the strenuous workout.

But rest doesn’t have to mean complete inactivity. Active recovery can be just as beneficial as rest, and it can help your body recover faster. Activities like yoga, swimming, or cycling can help get your blood flowing, stretch out sore muscles, and prevent stiffness.

Cross-training is another effective way to incorporate active recovery into your routine. Not only does it give your body a break from running, but it also helps to strengthen different muscle groups and prevent overuse injuries. Cross-training activities can include weightlifting, hiking, or even dancing.

When you are in long-term recovery, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly. If you feel overly fatigued or experience any pain or discomfort, take a break from training and focus on recovery. Incorporating rest and active recovery into your routine can help you become a stronger and more resilient trail runner in the long run.

Rest After Run

Addressing Injuries and Soreness

As a trail runner, it’s important to be aware of the potential injuries that can arise from this intense activity. Common injuries for trail runners include foot and ankle sprains, shin splints, and knee pain. In addition to being aware of these injuries, it’s important to know how to prevent them and treat soreness when it arises.

To prevent injuries, it’s crucial to have proper footwear that provides support and cushioning for your feet. Make sure to break in new shoes before hitting the trails to prevent blisters and discomfort. Additionally, incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can help to build strength and prevent common injuries.

If you do experience soreness or injuries, address them promptly to prevent them from getting worse. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) can be effective for treating acute injuries such as sprains. Stretching can also be helpful for soreness and tightness in muscles. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek medical attention for more serious injuries or persistent soreness.

Training for Recovery

  • Incorporating recovery runs into your training plan
  • Strength training
  • Cross-training
  • Consistent stretching and mobility work
  • Adequate rest and recovery time

Incorporating these recovery tips into your training plan can lead to improved performance and help prevent injury. Take it from ultramarathon runner, Slaura Norris, who emphasizes the importance of recovery in her training. Don’t neglect recovery in your training plan – it can make all the difference in your performance on race day.


What are some effective ways to recover from intense running?

There are several ways to recover from intense running. First, cool down after a run by doing some light stretching and walking. Hydrating properly with water and electrolyte-rich fluids is crucial to replenish fluids lost during the run. Adequate nutrition, including healthy carbohydrates and protein, can also help with recovery. Rest and sleep are equally important in the recovery process, allowing the body to repair itself.

How do you recover from a 100-mile run?

Recovering from a 100-mile run can be a challenging process that requires a lot of rest and recovery time. Adequate nutrition and hydration are crucial, as well as gentle stretching and massage to prevent muscle soreness. Listen to your body and take rest days when necessary, allowing time for the body to recover fully. Cross-training, such as cycling or swimming, can also be helpful for low-impact recovery exercise.

What are some common injuries associated with trail running?

Trail running can put stress on different parts of the body, leading to various injuries. Common trail running injuries include ankle sprains, shin splints, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and IT band syndrome. Listen to your body and seek medical attention if needed to prevent further damage and promote proper recovery.

How many days does it take to recover from a hard run?

The recovery time from a hard run can vary depending on the intensity and duration of the run, as well as individual factors such as fitness level and age. Generally, it can take anywhere from one to three days for the body to fully recover from a hard run. Adequate rest, hydration, and nutrition can speed up the recovery process.

How should I eat during a 100-mile run?

Proper nutrition during a 100-mile run is crucial to maintain energy levels and prevent muscle fatigue. Eating a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats can provide the body with sustained energy. Snacks such as energy gels, bars, and chews can also be helpful during the run. Practice your nutrition plan during training to find what works best for your body.

Final thought

As someone who’s been running for years, I know firsthand the importance of recovery. I’ve experienced soreness, injuries, and burnout, which is why I’ve developed a recovery routine that works for me. Remember, everyone’s recovery needs are different, so listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly. By implementing these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to a speedy recovery after your next trail run.

  • Don’t skip the cool-down: Cooling down after a trail run is essential for reducing soreness and inflammation. Take at least 5-10 minutes to walk or jog slowly to gradually lower your heart rate.
  • Stretching is key: Stretching is an important part of any recovery routine. Focus on stretching your hamstrings, quads, and calves to reduce muscle tension and prevent injuries.
  • Nutrition is critical: After a trail run, it’s crucial to refuel your body with the right nutrients. Eat foods high in protein and carbohydrates to aid in muscle recovery.
  • Incorporate active recovery: Engage in low-intensity activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga to help increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce soreness.
  • Take rest days: Rest days are just as important as workout days. Allow your body to rest and recover fully to prevent injuries and improve performance.
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Ras Vaughan
When possible Ras and Kathy will post trail dispatches to their personal Facebook pages, their Team UltraPedestrian Facebook page, and their Instagram account. Also, video dispatches will be posted to YouTube channels. Follow them on : Youtube, Instargram
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