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How to: recover after a long run

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TO help your body bounce back from distance running, listen to Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon -- and a marathon runner himself -- and his frequent running partner Josh Nemzer. "Recovery from a long run begins immediately after you finish it," McGillivray says:

Keep moving. After a run, try to walk for at least five minutes instead of immediately coming to a full stop, which can cause cramping, nausea or dizziness.

Once you stop, do some light stretching to boost circulation to muscles.

Replenish fluids. No matter how much you've had to drink on a run, you'll need water or sports energy drinks as soon as possible after the finish to guard against dehydration. Stay away from soda, alcohol and caffeine.

Have a snack. Fresh fruit, yogurt, pretzels or bagels are good choices for giving you the calories you need without being too heavy on the stomach. Eat as quickly as you can after a run and have plenty of healthy snacks and meals throughout the day.

Soak your legs in cold water. The temperature will promote circulation to your leg muscles, helping the healing process (heat, on the other hand, can increase swelling and soreness). You can take a bath or shower, douse your legs with water from a hose or use an ice pack.

Scale back on workouts. Don't push your pace or distance for at least a few days after a long run. Try some cross training -- walk, swim or bike, for example -- or short runs until your legs feel fresh again.

-- Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).

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