Mornings + Long Runs = Ugh.

Hi everyone!  It’s the middle of yet another sunny, gorgeous week in Anchorage and I’m loving it.  I mean, mid-60s and sunny from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm?  That’s basically perfection.  I want to be outside ALL THE TIME and so does the rest of the city!

IMG_5198Potter Marsh around 10:00 PM

Anyways, if you read my training update from Monday you’ll know that my hips/glutes are not feeling so great right now.  Maybe it’s the fact that I fill every possible moment with some sort of outdoor activity or a Pilates class?  I clearly need more rest days despite the fact I don’t have time because there are a million different hikes I need to do in the next few months.  And since the sun is staying out longer my body is trying to adjust to that too – it’s super common for me to forget what time it is and stay up way too late because it’s still sunny out!  And on top of all that, add in the fact that I’m NOT a morning person, yet my training group’s long run happens at 8:00 am and my body has no idea what’s going on or how to deal with the aftermath of running so far so early in the day.  After my long morning runs, I’m not really recovering well and end up feeling terrible all day.  Despite the fact that I’ve done so many long runs and early races in my life, they’re not getting any easier.


I feel like I’m doing some things right – I wake up an hour and a half before the run to drink water and eat oatmeal, I carry water and fuel with me while running and I’ve got a pretty solid routine for mid-run fueling, and I recover right away with water, pretzels (I crave salt after running), Nuun, and chocolate milk.  Right after stretching, foam rolling, and showering I eat a full meal, and I keep eating/drinking regularly throughout the day.  But I still end up feeling like death after a few hours, and all I want to do is nap and eat.  No matter what distance I’m running in the mornings – 3 miles or 13 miles – I’m still equally exhausted by long morning runs.

IMG_5226Happily running in the afternoon

I’m realizing now that I need help to get better at morning running and recovery!  So I recently asked some of my fellow bloggers for some long run recovery advice, and I got the following tips:

  • Christine from Run Out of the Box suggested waking up 1.5 hours before the run to eat breakfast.  She eats a PB&J sandwich that she puts on her nightstand the night before, and then goes right back to bed!  Even though I already eat 1.5 hours before long runs, I’m impressed by her ingenuity with eating and then going back to sleep  🙂  Every minute of sleep is precious!
  • Jen from Marathon Mom suggested a post-run protein to carb ration of 3:1. I never think about that kind of stuff while recovering (my brain is just like EAT EVERYTHING) so I’m going to look for some post-run meals that satisfy that ratio.
  • Kim from Two Years to Kona suggests including enough iron, protein, and B12 in my diet.  I don’t take vitamins right now (I take Vitamin D in the winter) so I’m thinking that adding some more vitamins to my diet may help with recovery.

And then just to make sure I’m not missing anything big, I checked out some expert advice on long run recovery and found the following articles:

  • Long Run Recovery Done Right: Even elite runners take naps after long runs!  It’s not just me!
  • How Do Morning Workouts Effect Sleep?:  This is so my sleep pattern, but with early work start times instead of workouts.  Once again, I find it interesting that early wake up times for workouts leads to naps later in the day.
  • Recovery From Running Hard Workouts:  I have never taken an ice bath/epsom salt bath before, but all of the baths and napping on this list makes recovery sound kind of fun  🙂

One thing that I heard from almost everyone – including comments on Monday’s post – was that I need to make sure I get enough sleep.  I wake up at 6:30 every day for work so I thought getting up at 6:30 for a long run would be no problem.  But then I realize that I’m not a morning person, and by the time Saturday rolls around I’m usually tired and need a slightly later wake up time.  And I hate napping because it messes with my sleep schedule.  Maybe early long runs just don’t work for my body, which is unfortunate since almost all races happen early in the morning!  But I’m going to try to take some of this long run advice and hopefully I will feel better next time!

How do you recover from long runs, especially morning ones?  Any advice you think I’m missing and need to try?  Are you a fan of ice/epsom salt baths?

16 thoughts on “Mornings + Long Runs = Ugh.

    1. This is so helpful! So do you do ice baths right after a tough run, or a few hours later when you start feeling sore? I’m nervous about doing them but I really think they might help me recover faster.

      1. I do ice baths within a few hours of a really long run or something like a track workout or a tempo run, where my legs just feel totally jacked up. Think of hard efforts as treating an injury: you probably have some sort of inflammation (even if you are not injured, hard efforts cause little micro tears and really work the muscles hard), so if you were to take an Epsom salt bath you’d be adding to the inflammation. The ice will take away any general swelling in your muscles and prevent injury by increasing blood flow. Let’s say you do the ice bath and wake up the next day with tired, heavy legs – then you go for some Epsom and just relax and enjoy!

  1. First, I can’t believe that first picture was taken at 10pm! Holy bananas!! (Also, it’s gorgeous!) Second, that next image is totally true for me too… I’d definitely be a morning person if the morning started later! 😉 That said, I have no advice for you at all about recovering from morning runs, because I don’t do them too often. I prefer to run in the evenings, and usually the only morning runs I do are races… and recovery for those include eating ALL the things and taking a nap, which is hard to do every day. Sounds like you’re going about it in a smart way though! You’ll have to let me know what things work for you 🙂

    1. Haha this is why I need to hike/be outside constantly right now! I think it sounds like we’re both not morning runners, and I love that you only run races in the mornings and still manage to be okay on race day. I’ve always wondered if training in the mornings would make me adjust better, but it’s just making every weekend miserable instead. I think I’ll switch back to afternoon long runs for a bit to see if it helps me feel better.

  2. I second “getting enough sleep.” I can go along pretty well on 7 or less hours of sleep a night for a while, but then suddenly I can’t sustain it anymore and even normal stuff like work is exhausting. I hope you can figure out a solution soon!

    1. I think that’s what’s happening right now! Not only am I doing all the running/hiking things I can do, it’s also the last week of school and I’ve been super busy trying to get everything done in time. My manager is giving me the day off on Friday (since the last day of school is Thursday) because she said I’m working too many hours, so I’m hoping I can sleep in and just relax that day! I think that will make a huge difference 🙂

  3. I hate morning runs too! So awful!!! I have no advice at all for you LOL but I do have experience with an ice bath…. how do I put this? It SO awful. Seriously, so much pain happens…until you go numb which isn’t until 5-10 min, into it. I would say don’t do it unless you are in a SERIOUS amount of pain. I only took one when I was in a rugby tournament and had to play 2 games back to back and then one the next day. The ice bath worked miracles, but they literally had to block the bathtub so I couldn’t get out, and I was screaming “ow ow ow” and crying it hurt so bad. Epsom salt baths, on the other hand, are pleasant!

    1. Thanks for the heads up! I have no desire to do it but if it helps me get through this training session with a PR I will get in there! Do you take epsom salt baths after hard workouts or the day after? I may just take one every day as an excuse for some relaxing time haha.

      1. lol to be honest, I only ever took an epsom salt bath to try and stop an infection on my knee (yes, I cut my knee badly when Sara Dufner took me cliff jumping….) but it was super relaxing! HAHA.

  4. i thought i was the only runner who HATES mornings! I just can not get up early to exercise, and i have tried time and time again. I will stick to after-work running. I usuay have no problems getting up on race days bc its not just a normal day. I feel like it would be a good thing to do morning runs once summet comes, but i would have to go to bed way too early for my liking!

    1. I’m so glad someone else understands how I feel! I think I’ll be doing my long runs solo and in the afternoons from now on 🙂 I just can’t force myself to workout hard in the mornings!

  5. I’m a morning runner. Anything past 8:00 am and I can’t seem to do it. But, sleep is important so if you’re not getting enough during the night, your body will force you to get some during the day (ie naps). Epsom salt bath 60-90 minutes before bed will be both therapeutic for muscles, and also relaxing for your mind. Ice baths if you’re swollen or achy after a long run. Above all else, listen to your body. It knows what to do!

    1. Thanks for the tips! I think I’m going to take a real rest day soon and reassess what I want to do for the rest of the training plan. I’m thinking that I need to move my long runs to a time that works for my body and that I need to tone down on some workouts. I’ll talk to the coach of my running program tonight at practice to see what she thinks!

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