One question that I get asked often is, "How long does it take you to recover from a race?" It really is a good question with a somewhat complicated answer. I first want to say that this a topic that I have discussed with my ultra running mentor Mark Dorion many times. We both have come to an agreed upon answer and that is, it doesn't take long to get back to 85%. It just takes awhile to get that other 15% back.
In general, I am running within two days of a race over 100 miles. Any race 100k or shorter, I try to run the following day if possible. By the next weekend, I am back at 70%. By the second weekend, I am back to 85%. It will generally take me two to three months to get back to 100%. The last thing that comes back is my speed.
One of the issues I had leading into Western States this year was the lack of recovery from the 100k World Championships and the NorthCoast 24 Hour race. With only a two week recovery from the 100k to the NorthCoast 24 Hour and seven weeks from NorthCoast to Western States, my legs weren't recovered enough to get in any quality speed work.
I won't have that issue going into 24 Hours the Hard Way in October because I have a four month break following Western States. I will have time to rest the quads with low mileage weeks(60's-70's) and focusing on tempo and interval runs. Then when August hits.....I will start building the miles needed to handle the 24 hour race but still incorporating long tempo runs to maximize my cruising pace needed to run 150 to 160 miles in a 24 hour race.