Thursday, February 15, 2018

After The Races

Donadea was marathon/ultra number 96, so you could say I’ve been there before. My recovery protocol is pretty much the same every time, it has been thoroughly tried and tested, works very well and gets me back into shape in good time.

I don’t know when I first noticed that a few miles of very easy running leads to a faster recovery than full rest. It might be counter-intuitive and most running publications would have you believe differently but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that my method works better. I do at least 3 days of 5 miles each morning, very very easy. The day immediately after the race it is always a struggle to get yourself out of the door and there is always that little devil on your shoulder that will whisper into your ear to go home, you deserve a rest, but just ignore it. After a mile or two you will feel so much better and each subsequent step will show further improvement. The following days will feel easier already and will most likely be a little bit faster, though you should pay no attention to pace whatsoever, just jog at whatever effort feels really comfortable.

After 3 days you assess; if the legs are still tired you keep doing 5 mile runs, otherwise you can increase the mileage. I find that usually I can crank up the mileage without much issue, but keep the effort easy at all times. There should be no workouts in the week after the race and no races / hard workouts for at least another week. That’s it. You will soon feel recovered, and most likely in better shape than before the race.

On a side note, assuming the HRM was working correctly my HR for Monday was my lowest ever on record at 121. I know the pace was very easy, but still. However, I have noticed that a low HR / high VDOT not necessarily translates into being in race shape. My cardio-vascular system is in damn good conditions but my legs aren’t quite playing ball.

My weight also follows a set pattern. Again it might be counter-intuitive but I always put on about 3 pounds when I run a marathon or ultra. I’m think it’s fluid that was leaking from damaged muscle fibres and ends up pooling in your leg muscles, though I am no expert in physiology. That additional weight stays with me for a few days and then goes away just like that. I have just seen the exact same  pattern once more, my weight went up from 143lbs/65kg before Donadea to about 146lbs/66+kg, and on Wednesday it suddenly was back to just over 143.

I tend to eat healthily most of the time but have an undeniable sweet tooth. I guess clean eating would improve recovery but there comes the point where self-denial reaches its limits. I still eat healthily with plenty of fruits and vegetables; salads for lunch work very well in that regard. But I certainly don’t deny myself a bit of chocolate or sweet, especially since this week coincided with pancake Tuesday (always a big thing in our house) and Valentine’s Day.

Anyway, it’s now been 5 days since Donadea. I can definitely still feel the race in my legs but overall I’m happy with how recovery is going. I’ll still take it easy for a few more days and see how it goes.

Btw, it was snowing this morning during my run as well as during the cycle commute. Winter is definitely holding on for longer than usual this year.
12 Feb
5 miles, 44:32; 8:54 pace, HR 121
13 Feb
5 miles, 42:47; 8:33 pace, HR 127
14 Feb
6.3 miles, 53:01; 8:24 pace, HR 134
15 Feb
10.3 miles, 1:23:03; 8:03 pace, HR 137

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