Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I don’t know what the difference is, but I am feeling so much better than after the Dublin marathon, it is unreal. It doesn’t make sense to me, I ran both at a similar pace and I would expect a 30 mile race to leave me worse off than a marathon 3 weeks later, but that’s not the case. I’m wondering if the backpack we had to carry for the flag might have caused some subtle change in my stride pattern, but that’s a complete guess and quite probably wrong.

Obviously I’m not complaining about feeling good – I’d just like to know what made the difference so I’ll know for next time. Maybe it was just the fact that an additional 3 weeks had passed since Connemara and my legs are finally more or less recovered from that effort. Incidentally, that was just over 100 days ago and with the old adage of a day recovery for each mile race that could even be true, who knows. Last year it took pretty much a day per mile to recover from the 24 hrs, so maybe that is indeed the case.

Anyway, I’m feeling really good at the moment. The weather helped, while most of the rest of the country are moaning about the cold, I just love running on crisp bright mornings. Compared to the usual lousy weather this time of year, this is just pure bliss and I’m loving every minute of it. Even my Achilles is behaving, while I can still feel the odd stiffness every now and then it is 99% better. I’m still scared of running the mountain trails again for fear of undoing all the healing that happened over the last few months, but maybe I’ll change my mind if thing keep going well. Mind, running those trails when it’s pitch dark isn’t something that I would recommend, so it would be a weekend exercise only, when I run slightly later in the day.

I haven’t done any workouts since Sixmilebridge but will probably do a rather mellow tempo run later this week, just like I did 3 weeks ago. I noticed yesterday in particular that the legs were itching to run faster and I kept putting the brakes on again and again. I take that as a very good sign.

23 Nov
8 miles, 1:02:20, 7:48 pace, HR 137
24 Nov
10 miles, 1:16:38, 7:40 pace, HR 143
25 Nov
8 miles, 1:03:10, 7:54 pace, HR 137
26 Nov
8 miles, 1:03:41, 7:58 pace, HR 136


  1. The day per mile recovery sounds right, based on my limited experience as well.

  2. If the day per mile recovery was right shouldn't you be adding in the marathons and sixmilebridge race and all the other training your do... and in fact will never be recovered!

    I am curious about the actual physiology behind recovery from big races. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones will all take their own time to rebuild. The mitochondria cells within the muscles also need to recover and rebuild.

    Hormone levels will also take a while to get back into balance. Could it be that with really big races our bodies get stuck in a chronic state that takes a long time to settle. For instance could Cortisol levels end up chronically elevated after a big race slowing recovery?

    Whatever the truth I expect race recovery to not be a constant for a single athlete let alone across populations. I also expect how we eat, what training we do and other stresses in our lives will greatly affect rate of recovery.

    The curious thing is that for you, Thomas, running a 30 mile race seems to have reset things back onto a better footing. I do wonder if there is a hormone issue at play and that you've had enough time in recovery and bit more of training stimulus at the right time has re-jigged the balance.

    Canute's (https://canute1.wordpress.com/) has written a couple of recent posts that mention the interplay between anabolic and catabolic hormones. While he doesn't go into the issue of recovery from long races I wonder if there is something insights that might be gleaned.

    1. I'm perfectly aware that I've added 2 long races since Connemara, but neither of them was at race effort - my best guess is that made a significant difference regarding recovery. Last year was similar, I actually ran a hilly 50 miler as well as DCM and then Sixmilebridge in the "recovery" phase. The outcome was the same, after about a day per mile raced after a very long ultra I suddenly started to feel better.

      This wasn't planned, or even expected, it's just that I felt better one day and then counted back and wouldn't you believe it, that's a day per mile after my last long race.

      Why I'm feeling better after a 30 miler than after a marathon - well, like I said, I'm at loss about that one.

      My own observation, totally unscientifically with a sample size of 1, is that the cardiovascular system recovers faster than the muscles which in turn recover faster than the endocrine system (hormones), though especially in the latter case that's based on subjective feedback, i.e. how it feels rather than some actual measurements.

    2. It's a shame that we don't yet have personalised systems for measuring various factors like hormones, it'd be great to do a quick test and know that your cortisol levels are elevated so you need to fix that before you can get back to proper training.

      Without the actual testing or an proper understanding I guess the best we can do is be aware of patterns in our recovery, and also look of for possible explanations for the processes going on and with it what might help speed recovery.

      On the speeding recovery I do wonder if things like cold baths + supplementing Vitamin C might be worth trying to post race to get Cortisol levels down post race. Both cold baths and Vitamin C will blunt the immune response a bit so one might see less adaptive to the stress of the race, but quicker recovery.

      I also wonder if post race binging on sweet foods might contribute to slowed recovery as it'll elevate insulin levels and inflammation with it. Elevated insulin will also push our bodies away from metabolizing fats so endurance will suffer.