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Marathon Recovery (Read 893 times)

Mishka


    On another thread, Jeff asked Mikeymike about his recovery plan from his recent marathon. With so many marathons recently, and many first timers, I thought it might be a good idea to get a thread going on this. Everyone will have different experiences, but it would be interesting to see what people have done for recovery before and how they feel their subsequent training was impacted. Hopefully this is valuable for people with a goal of getting ready for another race effort/season. My marathon was pretty recent (10/7), but I'm over a week into recovery and am really starting to come back around. Here's my experience/recovery plan so far. The specific goals of my recovery are both for the obvious purpose of recovering from the race itself, but also with the additional goal of transitioning into another racing season in ~2 months. The plan is with a coach's direction. My coach ran the same marathon (actually dropped out at 15 due to cramping) I did. He told me after the race to take a week easy. That was his plan for his own running as well. I didn't (couldn't) run for the first 2 days after the marathon. By the 3rd day, there was no soreness in my legs at all while walking around. And I was starting to go nuts from not running. I checked with him on whether a run was smart or not. My plan was no more than 30 min at 60 sec / mile slower than my goal marathon pace. I have some buddies around here that are just getting back into running so I met up with them to make sure I kept it easy. I did that for 3 days (Wed-Fri), then did a longer run at a faster pace on Saturday. It was also before sunrise and the group I ran with opted for roads instead of trails. That was too much. I was hurting in general after that and had a specific soreness on the inside of my hamstring, behind my knee. I took the next day completely off and ended with 17 miles on the week (approximately 30% of the volume of my peak training week leading up to the marathon). My only run after that was yesterday. I took it very easy and ran 40 min, but was chomping at the bit the entire time. My legs felt ready to go and it was tough to hold back. After the run, there was some soreness below my calves in both legs. I believe there's still race fatigue there. After talking to my coach, he wants me to run another easy week with nothing faster than general endurance pace (approximately goal MP - 30 sec/mile slower) with even slower running (60 sec / mile slower than MP) as needed. I'll finish out the week with easy runs, probably maxing out between 25 and 30 miles. If I'm feeling well, I'll start to incorporate some short tempo and light Vo2 max work into next week's training. If I'm not ready yet, I'll push the faster stuff off for another week (i.e., the 4th week out). I think I'll know whether I'm ready by general levels of residual soreness and perceived effort of the harder efforts.
      I think it's really important to pay attention to the mental recovery as much as the physical. Those of you who's goal marathons were befriggered by hot weather might actually find the physical recovery really quick relative to other marathons--while the mental recovery will take some time. That was my experience from Boston '04. I was running PR's at 5k/8k/10k a few weeks after Boston because my physcial fitness was still there and I never really got a chance to run myself into the ground at the marathon--basically once I recovered from the dehydration and cramping, I was fine. That took just a couple of weeks. But later that summer I just burned out. Because I never gave myself a mental break after the marathon and paid the price for it. It's easier, mentally, if you were able to run up to your potential (like I did at Hartford) because in addition to the race beating you up physically--which will force you to back off for a while--you also have the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of having earned a break. But the physical recovery will take much longer--a month or more for most people.

      Runners run.

        I have a simple question that I'd like to hear folks' thoughts on. When we think about marathon recovery, is the recovery thought in terms of the effects of the marathon itself or is it better to think in terms of recovery from the whole season of training that leads up to the marathon? Obviously, the race can't be separated out entirely from the season, but it seems to me that the difficulties I've had in recovering can't be traced specifically back to the race event.
        Mishka


          Mikey, since I did the Hades (Chicago) Marathon this year, I had exactly the same thoughts about my race. I seemed to come around relatively quickly. Looking back at my marathon, the wheels were completely off the wagon for 6 miles. I rationalized that I'd only really run (pounded my legs) for 19. I was sharing those thoughts with a local guru who's been doing marathons for nearly 30 years. He said it's tempting to think as I was, but the physical damage was much greater than it seems. He said in conditions like that there's more physical damage than just the soreness in the legs and he gave an example or two from his own experience. When you burned out later that summer, how were you feeling physically? If you re-think it, is it possible that your mental burn-out was in part due to physical fatigue from not allowing the necessary recovery time after Boston? I obviously don't know the answer, but the local guru's advice has me convinced that even bringing back the easy running too quickly is a bigger hazard than I realize.
            When you burned out later that summer, how were you feeling physically? If you re-think it, is it possible that your mental burn-out was in part due to physical fatigue from not allowing the necessary recovery time after Boston?
            Yeah, it's definitely possible. Though I felt pretty good and was running some really good races through the end of June, there was probably some physical fatigue there. And then, as Jeff just mentioned, it was probably a mistake to treat my thermogenic insult at Boston as a separate event from the season of training and racing that led up to it and followed it. I probably needed to recover physically from the whole shebang and never did. I let my spring racing season spill into the summer and then tried to just trainsition into fall marathon training. Had I not mentally burned out at that point, I was probably due to break down physically anyway.

            Runners run.


            Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

              What you do after your marathon is just as important as what you do before it, in my opinion. Immediately following the race, I will try to change into clean clothes and fresh shoes or sandals (depending upon the weather) and will walk around quite a bit. I will eat and drink as much as my body feels that it is capable of without getting uncomfortable, visiting the rest room as necessary and spacing out what I eat over the span of a few hours. A few hours after the race I try to take a nap if possible, although this will be one of the earlier steps I tend to skip. 30 minutes of resting my eyes goes a long way to refreshing me and giving back a few hours of energy. Preferably the evening of the race and definitely the day or two following the race I will try to walk as much as I can. A 3 mile saunter (especially if the terrain is flat) can go a long way towards stretching your legs out and helping prevent soreness. Depending upon the time of year depends upon how fast I get back to running. In the Spring, I'll be back running within a week, and other than that first week will generally do a reverse taper. It will usually take about 3 weeks to a month to get back to pre-marathon mileage. This fall, I did the same after my 50k in September. After my late marathon, I will take a month or two off from running and do a lot of cross training. That's more for recovering from a long season than from the race, though.

              Run to Win
              24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)




              Me and my gang in Breck

                I have a simple question that I'd like to hear folks' thoughts on. When we think about marathon recovery, is the recovery thought in terms of the effects of the marathon itself or is it better to think in terms of recovery from the whole season of training that leads up to the marathon? Obviously, the race can't be separated out entirely from the season, but it seems to me that the difficulties I've had in recovering can't be traced specifically back to the race event.
                Jeff, I am so sore right now. I was planning on running a local 5 mile town race this Sunday but not anymore. I made the mistake of running too soon after my 30k several weeks ago and I hurt myself 4 or 5 days later. I ended up taking more time off than should of been necessary. I really need time off from all the training. It's been a long tough battle and I need a break. My wife and children need a break from all my training also. 20 mile long runs take time away from them and it's time for a break. Physically and mentally, I'm exhausted. If I take some recovery time and slow down then I should be ready for battle again early 08. Mark

                That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Neitzsche "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." "Dedication and commitment are what transfer dreams into reality."

                  Ok my experience so far. After my very first marathon I took 6 weeks off. BAD IDEA!! This season, since I had 3 marathons scheduled. I've been listening to my body as far as how to deal with recovery from each marathon. My body is used to running every day and since I don't "push" it , it's been easier for me to get alot of milage with not alot of days off. Had I pushed my marathons more, my recovery each time would have probably been different. I will definetly be focusing more on my recovery AFTER Philly. I definetly will need to recover from the season so that I can be refreshed come time to start training for my spring marathon.

                  Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

                    I think it's really important to pay attention to the mental recovery as much as the physical. Those of you who's goal marathons were befriggered by hot weather might actually find the physical recovery really quick relative to other marathons--while the mental recovery will take some time.
                    In my case, I don't think the mental recovery is an issue, but I guess it's because my training leading up to the marathon wasn't that great. I went into Chicago knowing that I was under prepared so the hot weather was only partially to blame for my performance. After the first couple days of disappointment, I started to plan for a new marathon in Feb next year and I'm now looking forward to starting a new 18-week training plan next week. It's almost a way for me to get a do-over and train through the colder winter months. I could well see though how a first-timer that was fully prepared and then had to deal with a hot-weather marathon may take a while to get motivated again. Physically, I started doing some easy 3-mile runs the Wed after the marathon and I feel perfectly fine now as I start to run further.
                    Derek


                    Another Passion

                      Great thread, Mishka. I'm soaking all this marathon prep, race, and recovery info in as I'm planning on and preparing for the Glass City Marathon in April, which will be my first. I appreciate all the info y'all have to offer.

                      Rick
                      "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa
                      "I wanna go fast." Ricky Bobby
                      runningforcassy.blogspot.com


                      Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

                        Great thread, Mishka. I'm soaking all this marathon prep, race, and recovery info in as I'm planning on and preparing for the Glass City Marathon in April, which will be my first. I appreciate all the info y'all have to offer.
                        Rvelich, have you read the marathon prep articles that I wrote for my friends last year? I had 5 friends running their first marathons last Fall: http://news.runtowin.com/2006/10/31/marathon-preparation.html

                        Run to Win
                        24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)