This weekend I did the first really long, really hard run of the year so far. And I was humbled and reminded how important good recovery techniques are.
Back when I first started running double digits I found that I used to get totally wiped out for the rest of the day. Drained, lethargic and just very, very achy. It was all relative of course to the distance I was training for – it first happened when I started training for my first half marathon and anything over 10 miles I’d be toast for the rest of the day. It shifted in 2012 – the year I trained for my marathon and suddenly my 10 milers were mere ‘walk in the parks’ and the feeling appeared on anything upwards of around 16 miles instead.
Last year I truly think I was still riding on the wave of marathon training and I seemed to mostly skip those post long runs blues – I believe my body still thought that 10 miles were my ‘short run’ days.
But on Saturday the feeling was back. A 10 miler in the morning leaves Helen flat out on the sofa for the rest of the day! And it’s not that I can’t move – it’s more that I don’t want to move! It’s a combo of light-headedness yet heavy-as-stone limbs. It’s that dull mild headache and most of all it’s that feeling of being completely and utterly wiped out and drained of….well….everything!
In a perverse way I kind of like it. It’s that feeling of having worked your hardest, and having given it all you have physically and mentally. This was a tempo run for me and I PR’ed it!
But, I digress…the feeling is back and it’s not the most productive or satisfying use of my precious weekend, nor is it much fun for the rest of my family so I must get back on track with some of the recovery techniques I discovered and used when I last suffered these symptoms.
Here is my post-run routine that I typically do after my longer runs (for me that’s usually anything upward of 10 miles);
1) Hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more! Get chugging as soon as you finish your run! You can’t beat good old H2O, but there are also plenty of powders and potions that you can add in to your water….I personally like it au naturel – for a little something extra I sometimes have some natural unsweetened coconut water – as an added bonus to straight water coconut water is rich in nutrients, contains essential electrolytes and a great boost of potassium.
2) Refuel within the first 30 minutes post workout. A popular theory is that you should be aiming for a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 carbs to protein (carbohydrates: protein) – think banana & peanut butter, Greek yoghurt & fruit, whole wheat bagel with eggs or one of my favourite guilty pleasures – low fat chocolate milk!
3) Ice Bath – not for the faint hearted!! And honestly the only time I’ve resorted to this was my year of marathon training…BUT…I DO think it helped me back then! Again, hop in soon after your run. I ran the cold water to about 8 inches deep so when I was sat down my hips would be submerged. I kept a cosy fleece layer up top for core warmth. Then I enlisted the help of an amused and slightly sadistic member of my family to chuck in the ice cubes. Then sit and shiver for 15 minutes. I found I only shivered for the first 10….by then I’d lost all sense and feeling 🙂 It’s a bit hardcore but ‘they’ say that sitting in an ice bath constricts the blood vessels, flushes waste products like lactic acid and reduces swelling and tissue breakdown – whatever – on my tough training days I felt less limb weary, less achy and a little more ‘awake’ when I tried the ice bath
4) This is a new one for me – the foam roller. I love it and hate it and I can’t promise I always practice what I preach but when my muscles are tired and tight the foam roller makes the world of difference. I can literally feel it working it’s magic as I go. I’ll do this as soon as I walk in the door, but often several times during the rest of the day.
So all of that was the first 45 minutes or so of walking in the door. Don’t forget to carry on with great hydration and good nutrient rich foods throughout your day.
What other recovery methods do you use?
Have you tried the ice bath?