06 Nov Marathon Recovery
Ahhhh, recovery. If you are here that means you made it! 26.2! You now have an accomplishment under your belt that no one can take away from you. The months training, sleep deprivation, not having time to go out with your friends, not staying out late or drinking as much as you would like…its all over and it was all worthwhile.
But now you feel like crap. You are stiff, achy, tired. You may have a cold, a sinus issue or might be irritable. Welcome to recovery! Here are some tips to making your recovery easier.
1. Ice bath: fill the tub with lukewarm water. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and maybe grab a winter hat and a sweatshirt. After you get in start filling the tub with an entire bag of ice (or two). Try to stay in for 10 minutes while sipping on your warm brew. Your aches and pains will diminish.
2. Take a walk or a spin. It’s not a good idea to sit still. The longer you sit still, the stiffer and more painful you will feel. Even a walk to lunch or dinner is good. If you feel like a light workout, do a light spin class. The bending of your knees and the cardio will help circulate some blood and help get your joint fluid pumping so your joints don’t feel so stiff.. If you feel like a light jog, that’s fine too, its just not mandatory.
3. Wait until the end of the week or next week to get a massage. Chances are you think right away is a good idea, but its actually better to wait. Let your body rid itself of some of the toxins and lactic acid for a few days and the massage will not only be more productive, but it will feel much better. You will be too uncomfortable the first few days and the massage won’t accomplish much at the early stage.
4. Speaking of ridding yourself of toxins, start re-hydrating. Along with water, work on getting alot of proteins in to replace the muscles that you have damaged along the course. Carbs have a place and area a great reward but the proteins will really help rebuild you. Don’t forget to take some electrolytes in as well to replace what is lost.
5. If you are in pain, or sick, see someone. Don’t wait assuming it will go away. If you feel you are coming down with the flu, see your doc or start taking vitamins and sleeping more. If you are injured from the race, go see your doctor or physical therapist. Simply not running will not necessarily make these things go away. The longer you ignore them the more chance they have of impacting your return to sport.
6.Find something to do. Chances are in the next weeks and months you will suffer some kind of mental withdrawal. It is strange, but fairly common (especially if you have a type-A personality) to become a bit depressed over the next month or two. Generally its from getting used to having a goal and now that its accomplished, feeling like you have nothing you are working to achieve. Aim to put more focus into work, a promotion or new idea. Or find another short race or goal to achieve. Maybe a home improvement project you have put off. Any goal will do. You will find you have time on your hands now so put it to good use.
7. If you do just one stretch, do it for your quads. Notice how you cant seem to go down stairs well or get up from a chair or bed after sitting or sleeping? When your knees sit still too long they will hate you. The easy solution is to stretch your quads or bend and straighten your knees repeatedly. Incidentally this is also why a spin bike can work wonders. Its the constant bending and straightening of your knee in a non-painful way that relieves pressure on your joint. Standing or lying on your stomach pull your ankle up to your butt for 20-30 seconds anytime you are up and moving. Conversely, before you get up, like in the morning on waking and if you are sitting at your desk before you go to stand, simply bend and straighten the knees as far as they would go. Do this 10-20 times until you feel you can move them quickly back and forth without pain. Repeat this all week and you will feel a whole lot less stiff.
Be proud of yourself. You are now a bad ass! Welcome to the club!