Recovery: Putting yourself back together post-race

I run the marathon to the very last mile. ~ Beastie Boys

First of all, I have to say how sad I am about the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (MCA). His music has been in heavy rotation in my life since 1986’s License to Ill and he will be sorely missed. As I have said before, cancer can go fuck itself.

Now on to (hopefully) less depressing topics: Race recovery. I am no expert but have learned a few tricks in the past few years about what works for me once the racing is done and your bod is in need of some TLC.

Post-race:
Immediately following a longer event, I am usually fairly dehydrated and my electrolyte balance is all out of whack. I sweat like it’s going out of style so even though I try to stay on top of hydration during the race, I still am depleted by the finish. Once I stop running and my heartrate starts to drop, my blood pressure crashes. The fluid level in my system is depleted and when the pump slows down, the volume of blood being delivered to my brain diminishes. Bad things can happen after that if I don’t get some fluids going. And stat. So immediately post-race, I guzzle some Gatorade, grab a couple bottles of water (or re-usable cups, if available) and I find a place to sit down if I am feeling woozy. I have also found that chips are my bestest friend immediately after a race. I think the salt and calories treat me right so I’ll whack down a couple bags of those as well. Lunch-sized bags, not Party Size, tubby.

I try to get moving again fairly quickly post-race vs. sitting for too long. If I feel well enough to jog a little, I might try that but usually I am just up for a stroll back to the hotel or shuttle or wherever I need to be next. If you have friends or family attending the event, have a place picked out to meet up since there will be hundreds of runners milling around like zombies post-event and finding your loved-ones in this mess is not happening. I have found that a couple miles is a decent distance for a post-race walk but durations may vary depending upon what works for you. If you can walk back along the course and cheer for those racers finishing after you, that is a lot of fun.

Once I get back to my room, I jump in an ice bath then follow this with a warm bath to help flush my legs. Not the most pleasant of experiences but I do find that it helps reduce the inflammation in my legs and puts me on the road to recovery. I also try to get in some decent complex carbs at this juncture to try to rebuild my glycogen stores. Lunch is usually on the immediate agenda as well, so as soon as I have cleaned up, I’ll head back out to grab some grub. I find that it helps to spend at least a little time in the afternoon with my feet up. I’ll watch a movie or read a book before heading back out for a mid-to-late-afternoon walk or celebration.

The next day:
Usually, I travel for my big races so like to spend some time post-event exploring the town. I have found that this helps get my legs moving again and greatly reduces the down-time post-event. The past three marathons I have done, I have spent a good chunk of time the following day walking or hiking in the surrounding area. Post-Boston, I walked the Freedom Trail, which was fantastic and when I was in San Fran last summer, I walked all around the area checking out the sites of Chinatown, Telegraph Hill and the neighborhoods of the Bay Area. In Eugene last weekend, I hiked a small peak south of town. Going down stairs or downhill can be daunting but it is worth it to get out to soak in the sites as well as to keep things moving.

I keep pushing the fluids and tend to eat like there’s no tomorrow in the days following the race. I also like to wear compression tights on the flight home as this seems to make my legs recover more quickly.

The following week:
I tend to need a couple days for my legs to feel less like hunks of wood and like to throw in walking/hiking during the first week post-race. If I am feeling fantastic, I might try a short, easy run as early as Wednesday after a Sunday event but usually find this to be counter-productive. I keep the running super light and easy for at least a couple weeks after a big event, tend to move to easy trails vs. roads and definitely don’t push the pace or intensity much during this period. I have made the mistake of trying to jump back into faster workouts too quickly in the past and am learning that time spent being nice to myself now, pays off immensely later. I can either take it easy for a couple of weeks now, or be required to take at least another couple of weeks later. Think “big picture” at this juncture vs. short-term pleasure. I missed trail running last season due to my road racing schedule and am SO jonezing to run the amazing trails around my house. But I am forcing myself to hold back a bit, be patient with my recovery, and wait a bit to get out on a longer, more intense run. The trails will be there when my bod is ready to roll. (Hopefully by Sunday!)

One final note, the above recommendations are based upon racing marathons where the intensity level and surface contribute to more post-event suffering than I experience when running trail races. Even after the Leadville 100 in 2010, I was running normally again later that week. To be completely honest, I am WAY more wrecked after racing a marathon than an ultra. Though I haven’t fully “raced” an ultra yet… I’ll have to get back with you on that one. Let me know if I missed anything.

As always, have fun out there.

~stubert.

EDIT: Talked with my coach and World Marathon Champ, Mark Plaatjes, on a run today about recovery. He recommended running only 2-3 days – no more than 5 miles per run – the week after a marathon. If you feel like jumping on a bike and doing easy rides, that is fine. Week two, you can increase your runs to 4-5 and add some distance but no intensity. Just keep everything mellow. The third week you can start running your regular schedule with some fartleks but no sustained efforts. After that, you should be good to go back to your regularly scheduled training regimen.

We also talked about doubles and his take on them is that if you have time to run in the morning, come home, eat, take a nap, get up around noon and do another run, eat, take another nap, then doubles are sustainable. If not, they are just a recipe for injury. He does like adding easy bike riding as a supplement in the evening after hard morning runs.

Good stuff.

 

Ankle ouch…

Ow, quit it. ~ Bart Simpson

So going into SFO, my right ankle was bothering me. Felt like I sprained it but I have no recollection of doing so. During the race (report to come), it felt fine. Seriously, zero issues. Post-race, however, is a totally different story. Not a happy runner does this thing make.

I ran last Thursday because I felt like running. My ankle had other plans, however and I had to bail a little early. So I jumped on the bike(s) for the next three days. Singlespeed Friday, Mountain bike on Saturday and a road ride on my ‘cross bike Sunday. Good times, actually. First time in about 10 years for me to log 3 days in a row on bikes. Ran again Monday. Not happy. So I am in recovery/rest/cycling mode for a bit. The ankle feels a lot better today (Wednesday) so I am planning to cross-train again today and then play tomorrow’s race by ear. It would probably be smart to skip it but you know how I am when it comes to being smart…

~stubert.

Slowly but…

Slow and steady wins the race. ~ Marge SImpson

Been really just recuperating over the past few weeks and started running some longer, more focused efforts in the last week or so. One mistake I made after the Denver Marathon last fall was to jump back into hard training too early which resulted in having to take some extra down-time to get my legs back. Post-Boston, though itchy to get going again, I resolved to not make that same mistake.

I have been following Mark Plaatjes’ orders and took two weeks REALLY slowly then added a regular regimen of somewhat reduced duration workouts over the last couple of weeks. This past week featured an increase in intensity with mile repeats on Saturday followed by what turned out to be a good 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3 pyramid workout on Tuesday. I felt a bit slow but my spits proved otherwise. I backed off going purely by pace on this one and just tried to hang with some of the faster runners in the group. They typically would gap me after about 15-30-seconds of each interval then I would maintain that distance through the remainder. My last set was still strong where others were fading so I am marking it up in the “plus” column for the overall effort.

Wednesday’s run was a good one as well. Tried to rally the #DenverLunchRun crew but people were either tapering for this weekend’s Colfax Marathon, stuck in meetings or too ill to get out in cold, rainy conditions. Twenty minutes before I was scheduled to head out, it was pouring rain and high 30° temps. Not fun weather in which to start a run but by go-time, the rain had tapered off a bit. I definitely came back wet but at least I was able to get my core temp up before getting too soaked. Stayed warm throughout the run, Cherry Creek Path was a ghost town and it felt good to be out braving the conditions. Some training is more mental than physical and this run definitely counted in that arena.

I signed up for the Bolder Boulder race on Memorial Day. It will be good to get in a short effort with a lot of people. Hoping to use the race to hone some skills which I currently am lacking and get some more experience with race day focus and big crowd racing. The course is difficult and I am not sure if I will be rested fully to run a PR or not but my big plan is to not get too frustrated in the early going, work the course and see what kind of finish I can put together. Still targeting my schedule for June and July in prep for the SFO Marathon and am excited to get rolling on some longer runs with faster finishes in the weeks to come.

Stay tuned for more…

~stubert.

Slackin’…

Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. ~ Jeffrey Lebowski

I have been slacking in many ways but working is not one of them. We have been slammed and this, coupled with Relish Studio’s move to Lakewood, has been keeping me super busy. I have been running – rather quickly, it seems – but have logged neither the consistency I would prefer nor the volume. Alas, that is – as they are known to say – how it goes.

The sluggishness I felt in my legs immediately post Leadville has worked its way out and I have had some great, fast (for me) runs over the past couple of weeks. It has been really nice to just cut loose on these runs and I feel that my form is coming along well. Just need to regain the consistency I had during the run-up to the LT100 with a serious dial down of the overall volume. Training for that race was difficult. It was a commitment I am glad I made because the results were impressive, however, I would caution anyone seeking to commit to a similar program about the life and relationship sacrifices one will have to make to put that plan in place. In all ways, it was challenging.

So what does the future hold? Right now, I am enjoying a certain lack of structure associated with a more free-form approach to running and may target another event in the future but not another 100-miler. I feel I have tackled that elephant and a repeat performance at this point would be merely redundant. Adventure running has a strong appeal as does the allure of a sub-3-hour marathon. Unfortunately, these are mostly combative when considering the nature of training required for each. So we’ll see what happens.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.

~stubert.

Recovering well…

LT100 Sub-25-Hour Buckle
Big ass buckle.

Yeah, it’s a lazy dog-dangling afternoon. ~ Homer Simpson

Relaxed on Sunday and Monday but then got back after it on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have found that getting the legs moving again shortly after a big effort really pays off and Tuesday’s run was no exception. It is remarkable how well I feel after the race – especially given how poorly I felt post-race in ’07. I attribute both the success over the weekend and the relative ease of my recovery to good form, consistent and voluminous training and great nutrition. So bonus!

More short recovery efforts (or lack thereof) scheduled for tomorrow and the weekend. Very psyched to be in this kind of mode this early post-race.

~stubert.