How do you recover from a long run — and get ready for the next one?


The author poses with her Hapalua finisher’s medal. Read about why recovering from a long run is just as important as prepping for it.


I did it. I finished my first half marathon — the Hapalua.

Getting to the finish line is another milestone for me, and part of my big plan to get ready for this year’s Honolulu Marathon.

At the end of the Hapalua course, I was sweaty and red-faced. I also had a spectacular runner’s high, that great feeling you get after a nice, long run.

Also on the course that day was veteran marathon runner Jo-Anna Syverson, who recently wrote a piece for Being808 about how to prep for a long run.

Once I’d enjoyed some post-race food, I caught up with Jo-Anna to talk about recovering from a long run and how to prepare for the next big race. We’ll both be participating in the Hibiscus Run, a half marathon, on May 24.

Denise Lau: Was this race difficult for you?

Jo-Anna Syverson: I definitely found this race to be a bit more difficult than previous races I’ve run in the past.  I didn’t train as hard for it as I could have and I also rolled my ankle the day before which made for additional stress leading up to the start.

DL: I hurt my back a few days prior so I was forced to do nothing and I went to the chiropractor the day before. No lie, I was just dragging myself in the end. I walked a lot from mile 9 on. My strategy was to walk, jog, repeat. I was inspired by an older gentleman jogging nice and steady up Monsarrat Avenue. I was like what? how is he doing this? Any surprise in your results?


Jo-Anna Syverson is a veteran marathon runner, and recently finished the Hapalua half marathon. She offers tips on race prep and recovery.

JS: I knew I was not going to set a personal record in my half marathon time (current best is 1:46:29), but I knew that my running and racing experience would put me in the 2:00 hour finish. I officially clocked in at 2:00:25. Not my worst finish time for a half marathon, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

DL: I was shocked I finished a little over 3 hours at an average 14 minute/mile pace. I know that’s slow for most but awesome for a lazy, un-athletic, “still needs to lose 25 more pounds” novice like me. Still, there’s the injury. How long does it take to recuperate after a long run?

JS: It depends. With the tweaked ankle, it’ll be about a week to a week and a half before I get back to a running schedule. During that time I’ll cross train by hopping on the bike or going out for a surf. Can’t get too lazy.

DL: The other thing I realized: Chaffing is a real issue. My inner thighs were stinging from chaffing during the run. My feet started to hurt around mile 11 and then the next day my quads were sore but not bad, just stiff. I took a slow 45-minute walk the next day to take it easy. I guess I have to get back to a jogging schedule. How do you prep for the next half marathon in six weeks?

JS: I’ve got the next 6 weeks planned out through a training website, with an emphasis on more speed workouts. My goal at Hibiscus is to beat my personal record (under 1:46).

DL: I’m just downloading a free marathon training app (for my smart phone), but I’ll try not to cheat on it this time and skip days like I did. But, how do you prevent re-injury? Do you reduce your training?

JS: Definitely going to give my body the proper recovery time before getting back at it. One can definitely do more harm than good in rushing back to training when your body, feet or legs are not 100 percent.

DL: So, any lessons learned from this run?

JS: Stick with the training plan. I had lazy moments and skipped training days. The lack of training definitely affected my race performance, and it only goes to show that you get back what you put in. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have a firm time goal for the Hapalua other than to run and finish. Don’t get me wrong, finishing a race is just as important if not more than what the finish time is. But if I stuck a firm time goal to my training plan I may have performed better knowing that that was what I was working and running towards.

DL: I’ve learned that anti-chafing balm is a must. Also, I know I have to work on more endurance runs. I also want to try some new fitness classes to cross train. How do you keep up your motivation to run?

JS: I find running to be both a great form of exercise and a great form of therapy. It’s amazing what you can learn about and from yourself on a run.

denise bio


Denise Lau is a content specialist at HMSA and blogs about mommyhood with her #808moms series. She has her hands full with a precocious, artistic daughter and active son. Her goal is to be healthy and fit while her kids become successful, well-rounded adults. Follow her on Twitter.

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