How to recover effectively from races (doesn’t include SNORTING CAKE *honest!)

How many times have you seen this….

“Hey I’m off for a recovery run less than 12 hours after finishing a tough ultra. Let’s see if those legs still work…..!” #HumbleBrag

I see that a lot on social “ME”dia and wonder why as runners we don’t recover properly. Or rest. I mean, if you can’t take a day off after a hard race where you have given everything you have got, then when on earth do you rest? Oh…… yes of course….. you don’t! I think maybe people are bionic. Because my body just wont take that hammering.

Instead, I have a patented 3 step recovery method. Tried and tested. Read on for more.

Before you start the BradburnRecoveryMethod (TM) you have to prepare well.

Stage 0a: EAT ALL OF THE CAKE! Food and drink is important. Especially if there is cake. The best cake contains the following ingredients in these proportions – 40% SUGAR, 20% FAT, 20% PROTEIN (CREAM!!!!) and 20% unicorn tears. If you don’t believe me just google it. I have made a pie chart (mmmmm did someone mention PIE!?)


Stage 0b: Don’t run. For two weeks. At least. THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!! How do you expect to be able to complete the 3 stages of recovery if you can’t sit down and have time to yourself to complete the mandatory stages? What do you have to prove? Your legs haven’t fallen off. You won’t lose fitness (you’ve just given your body a whole load of training stress input by doing a race) and besides….. none of your real friends will miss that you haven’t posted up a humblebraggy strava activity showing that you are doing a 7 minute mile “Recovery run”.

One you have preparation stage out of the way there are three very distinct phases involved in recovery.

Stage 1: Read about running. I am not usually one for reading much. I’m waaaaay too inpatient for all that. I skim read. I’m terrible! I have read lots of books and blogs while recovering. There are lots of benefits to reading about running while recovering.

  • Learn new words (really long ones sometimes… or swear words – always handy!) 🙂
  • Possible inspiration for stage 2 and stage 3 of the 3 step recovery process.
  • Find out something new to help with running.
  • and finally…… if you are sitting down reading (I haven’t really perfected the art of running while reading….!) then you are resting. And that’s a good thing

Books that I have enjoyed are:

  • Training Essentials for Ultrarunning. (The best book ever!) – Jason Koop
  • Ultimate Navigation Manual (learn how to navigate! could save your life).
  • Never Wipe your ass with a squirrel – Jason Robillard
  • Eat & Run – Scott Jurek
  • Running & Stuff – James Adams
  • Field Guide to Ultrarunning – Hal Koerner
  • Beyond Impossible – Mimi Anderson
  • Still not bionic – Ira Rainey
  • Fat man to Green Man – Ira Rainey
  • The diary of an average runner – Mark Cameron
  • There are loads more but I can’t remember….. other than to say NOTHING by DK.

and the following blogs:


Stage 2: Enter another race. Given your experience on the last race, and the various chats you had with other runners on the trail, then I bet you are bursting with ideas for the next race that you want to sign up to. There are looooooooooads of races out there – all different distances (though some are the SAME!!! :-p) and all different prices. Also side benefit is that it keeps you say down and resting while you research your options and plan your year ahead. In terms of ultras there are some that are well worth looking at:

  • Centurion running – who organise 4 x 50 mile races (South Downs Way 50, North Downs Way 50, Chiltern Wonderland 50, and Wendover Woods 50), plus 4 x 100 mile races (Thames Path 100, South Downs 100, North Downs 100 and Autumn 100). You can also volunteer on their races – and if you do enough time then qualify for a free space on that race the following year. Volunteering is the next best thing to actually running these races. It is sooooo lovely! I have completed 5 of their races – all of their 100 miles plus the North Downs 50. They are amazing!
  • Beyond Marathon – – they organise amazing races – and are pretty quirky and their RD is a loon! I have done a few of their races in the past – Dusk til Dawn 50 miler in the peak district (2 finishes), Apocalypse 50, 12 labours of hercules and Millennium Way. They also organise the very popular “Escape from Meriden race – where you run from the centre of England as far as you can – and the winner is the person who gets as far away as the crow flies. It is self nav and you choose where you go with a GPS tracker following your every move).
  • CanalsGUCR, KACR, LLCR – I am signed up for all three in 2018, and have enjoyed buddy running and crewing friends on GUCR145 in the past and had the pleasure of DNFing on LLCR130 in 2016 on an injury. It’s a beautiful thing. Stupidly bonkers. And the races are so focused on the runners and stripped back to the core that they are perfect!
  • LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) – organise low key events, usually involving detailed instructions and lots of cake and soup and sausage rolls at aid stations! Check them out for their “Challenge Events” – they are super cheap, low key and did I mention ALL OF THE FOOD?!!


Stage 3: Buy More Kit

We accumulate so much kit and equipment. Some of these things are mandatory, some are for a bit of “luxury” on the trails, and some things work and some don’t. After a season of races you will have a pretty good idea about what you like and what you don’t and you’ll be well placed to spend some time on your bum looking on the internet at other pointless trinkets that you can buy (most of which will not improve your running!)

You will have ideas of stuff you want / need to replace, or buy from other runners that you spoke to during the race, from the books you read and blogs in stage 1, from the kit list for the races in stage 2 to keep you going for a while 🙂 Also take the opportunity to thin out your kit and sell on or giveaway your old kit and equipment to make space for the shiny new stuff!!! If you are interested in the stuff I use then have a look at my latest list here.


So there you go……. the Bradburn Patented 3 STEP RECOVERY PROGRAMME.

What is your approach?


  1. Haven’t actually gotten round to read this until now. Brilliant post. Totally agree with you – sometimes you almost feel ashamed to be resting after a big race when you see all the social media posts from other runners out doing a marathon just days after a 100 miler. Rest is just as important as training, that’s when you get stronger. I usually spend one week on the couch after a long race, then go for a 5-6 mile easy run 7-8 days after if I feel up to it. Week 2 I normally do a couple of easy sessions consisting of 30 min on treadmill and 30 min on the crosstrainer, and maybe a body weight only strength session. Week 3 I resume running, even if I feel like I could start earlier. Better undertrained than overinjured! (A lesson I learnt yet again in January when returning too soon to hillwork after my Achilles injury.)

    Liked by 1 person

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