Sure, running is fun. But one of the best parts about going for a run is daydreaming about all the ways you'll celebrate your accomplishment once you're done—like where you'll eat, what you'll drink, or when you'll nap. Follow these five steps for a proper—and fun—recovery.
1. Eat something delicious.
It's important to refuel with protein and carbohydrates within 30–60 minutes of running. Whether you're craving a strawberry smoothie, a supersized salad, or a burger, eat something to ensure you don't bonk later in the day. "I used to finish every long run by stopping to get a whole wheat everything bagel with egg and cheese," says Beth Isaac, a 38-year-old marathoner from New York City. "But during my most recent training cycle, all I could think about on the run was a veggie omelet, avocado toast, or the kale salad from Sweetgreen."
2. Take an ice bath.
OK, ice baths may not be fun or indulgent, but that I'm-already-recovered feeling you'll bask in afterward? Totally worth it. Soaking in an icy tub for 20 minutes after a run can significantly speed up recovery. (It's science!) "Pro tip: drink a beer in the bath," says Liz Heisler, 34, from Chicago, IL. Bonus points for setting up your laptop or iPad (away from the tub!) and watching an old episode of Sex and the City to pass the time.
It's important, but also feels so, so good. Or maybe it hurts so good. Either way, do it—and then hop on the foam roller for a few minutes. Both are musts if you want to recover smartly and avoid injury. (Again, science!) Stick with dynamic stretches like leg swings before your run, then hold static stretches post-run.
4. Do nothing.
"Once I get home from a run, I sprawl out on the floor for about five minutes and do absolutely nothing," says Dani Sturtz. "Eventually I'll get up, put on compression socks and sweatpants, and cuddle with my dog on the couch." Recover with a puppy—what's better than that?
5. Have a beer (or two).
"After the Brooklyn Half Marathon every year, I immediately go to a bar with my friends to get a giant beer," says Samantha Cosenza, 28, from Brooklyn, NY. (Just uh, stay smart, and be sure to alternate alcoholic beverages with water to avoid getting dehydrated. That beer may taste oh-so-delicious, but too much can actually hinder muscle recovery, so indulge in moderation.)