How to Recover From “Completely Trashed Legs”

We’ve all had to spend some extra time on recovery after a particularly grueling workout or race. But what happens if you’ve gone WELL beyond normal fatigue?

running recovery

What should you do if you’ve run too many races in a very short time period?

What if you’ve trashed your legs by the Dopey Challenge?

Or, like my friend Joel, what if you’ve run five ultra marathons in just three months?!

At that point, you need a whole new approach to recovery. It’s not enough to take an ice bath, slap on some compression socks, and go on with training as usual.

No… that will only invite injury, over-training, or worse: quitting the sport entirely.

Today’s episode of Q&A with Coach takes a question from Joel Runyon, who just finished running 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in order to build 7 schools through Pencils of Promise.

The 777 Project was a success. But Joel’s legs aren’t celebrating.

If you’re burning the candle at both ends or committing yourself to outlandish goals, this post on high-level advanced recovery is for you.

How to Recover From Months of Abuse

A few weeks ago, Joel sent me this message:

I prodded him to learn more and found out that he recently finished five ultras in just three months.

Talk about stressful!

A situation likes this demands more than traditional RICE methods. It needs a longer-term approach that prioritizes both physical and mental recovery.

You’ll notice in the video that I discuss two separate issues:

  • Immediate recovery strategies like RICE plus high-quality sleep, proper nutrition, and reduced stress
  • Post-race training focus: how your running should look after the ultras are finished

Note that it doesn’t matter if you’ve run a slew of ultras in a short period of time or have simply finished your first marathon. If you need a lot of recovery, this advice is still applicable.

A question for you: how do you recover from your hardest races and workouts? What’s worked for you in the past?

Leave your answers below. I’d love to have all of our favorite recovery techniques in one place!

Don’t forget to download the free Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery to hear from 9 elite runners on their favorite strategies to stay healthy and recover faster!

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  1. If I’ve done an ultra, or a long, hard training run, I usually run again within two or three days. But this first run will be well within my ability, and I will see it as a “lap of honour”, a celebration of the run or race I completed.
    If the race was a disaster, then I treat my next run as my “new start”, rather than dwelling on the negative, I pull out whatever I can from the experience.
    And then it’s a couple more runs to get back into a new, post event, phase of training.

    • Comepletely agree with Malcolm. If you have run 5 ulta in 3 months or more than that, you just need to take a short break to recover so that next time you can perform better. And yes as Malcolm said if your last race was disaster, do not push your mind to negativity ,just start again as a new beginning.I believe that positive mind plays a major role if you want to achieve anything.

  2. I found a “trick” which is very useful to me in not having muscle sore at all even after riding a bike for 5-6 hours straight up.
    I used to do about 100 – 150 kms of cycling on the weekends but would always have sore muscles at the end of the day, no matter how much I stretched. I used to carry a lot of water and always stayed hydrated also.
    Or that’s what I thought. I made one change to my cycling program one day. Instead of drinking water only when I was thirsty, I started taking a sip of water every 10-15 mins. I stayed hydrated throughout the day and was surprised that after riding for 130 kms that day, my muscles were still not sore.
    That’s when I understood that drinking water at every 10-15 min regularly helps quite a lot in not getting sore muscles. I guess when you feel you are thirsty, you are already in a dehydrated mode and when you drink water, it further takes some time to hydrate your muscles. So overall, your muscles are getting damaged all the time, they are not fed water.
    This might be something people already know – to stay hydrated but don’t actually practice. Same goes for long distance running, try to take a sip of water every 10 mins and you will feel you are less sore and you’ll improve your time.