Race Recovery

After Sundays craptastic run I have been thinking a lot about the recovery portion of running a marathon. I mean, even Monday I was so exhausted.  I keep saying “I’m not sure what my deal is, what’s wrong with me” but I do know what’s wrong with me… I am not really understanding the recovery portion of running a marathon.

I think, ok, it’s been 2 weeks since I have done any kind of long or intense workout, I should be ready to go.  Well, mentally I am definitely ready to take on some serious killer workouts.  Physically is a different story.

After reading anything and everything I can on what do to after a marathon, these are the most common tips I have come across.

In the first hour:

  • Make sure to get some food in your system.  Carbs, protein, sugar….just get some calories in you
  • Lay with your feet up (preferably on a wall) for 10 minutes.  This helps get the blood moving which will help jump-start the recovery process
  • Move!  Make sure to walk around after you finish.  Stretch and move!

** Lucky for me I did none of that in my first hour.  I sat, cried and had no appetite. Go me.

Next 72 hours:

  • Move some more.  Go for long walks.  Swim.  Get the blood flowing to help promote recovery
  • Eat well.   Remember you aren’t planning and long runs anytime soon so no carbo-loading necessary
  • Sleep.  Your immune system has just been shot from the long, hard work you put into your race. Make sure to get enough sleep and rest to help prevent yourself from getting sick
  • Stretch/roll/massage/combination of them all!  Treat your muscles nice.  They just carried you 26.2 miles so be as kind to them as they were to you

** I was really good at the moving, rolling and sleeping part.   Eating well?  That’s another story..

Next few weeks:

  • Let cross-training be your friend.  Spin, swim, elliptical, walk…just make sure they are all done at an easy effort.
  • One general rule of thumb is one rest/easy day for each mile run.  I, personally, hate that rule.
  • A majority of what I have read says to give yourself at least 14 without an intense or long run.  That doesn’t mean no running, it just means take it easy.
  • For the average runner it can take 2-3 weeks to finally start feeling yourself, so give yourself that time.

I think I am below average because even at 2 weeks out I just do not feel myself.  I am going to definitely be more aware of how I feel (and start being better friends with my foam roller) and pray I get that running groove back soon!  I had a shitty run Sunday but I am trying to not let it get me down.  I need to remember the next few “hard” runs are going to feel tough and that’s ok.  That doesn’t mean I am out of shape or anything, it is just going to take time for me to get back into the swing of things.

I read this from Shalane Flanagan’s blog here:

” Athletes should never underestimate the power of recovery.
While my mind and competitive spirit are raring to go, my body is not quite there yet.”

So much goes into training for a race.  The day leading up to race day you train mentally, physically and emotionally.  For a marathon, that is typically 16-20 weeks.  It took a long time to build up to the point where you are able to run for 3+ hours so recovering from that won’t happen over night.  It won’t take as long as the building phase but it will definitely take time.

I think I wrote this post just so that I can get down on paper have written proof that the way I feel isn’t because I suck, it’s because I am still coming off a tough race.  Hopefully this helps at least one of you as much as it helped me!

And, for no reason at all, a photo of me face timing with J the dogs this weekend.

gm

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4 thoughts on “Race Recovery

  1. Thank you for writing this – I’m working on recovering from the RW half now (and was actually thinking of writing a post myself!)… and although it definitely wasn’t as intense as a full marathon, the hills destroyed my quads. I’m hoping to be back to normal by this weekend… I have two 5k races on Saturday and Sunday! Eek… definitely won’t be trying to win them or anything.

  2. The recovery portion would be MUCH easier had you gotten the outcome you wanted. You would be satisfied and happy to take the break you need. You NEED to reprogram your brain and give yourself a break… You are your own worst critic… Start by working on your confidence and your mental game now. Sure your going to have a few bad runs, but stay positive and it will get easier! I promise!! Get a little cocky, your a badass chick and you are a pretty damn good runner. Start believing in yourself girl!!! You Rock…

    • From the intensity combined with the distance of the race, I completely shot out my central nervous system. Because of that, it takes time to come back and feel 100%. My brain is totally ready to run and I am looking forward to some tough workouts. I think, regardless of whether I qualified or not, I would feel the way I do. I am just talking that I am learning to respect my body and listen to what it says. Just as any workout, I want to do my best. We all have bad days and that’s all I am calling this run… a bad day. But don’t worry, I am still loving the fact that I had a 30 minute PR. I promise, I am doing much better now than 2 days after the race 🙂 Thanks for the kind words, as always!

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