Category Archives: Recovery

The Off Season is Over

I love my off season. It usually starts the week after the Disney Marathon weekend and depending on my first race of the year may extend through April. My off season started a little later this year as I did another race the week after WDW Marathon Weekend out at Disneyland…oh yes, it was awesome!

The off season is a time to work on other aspects of fitness so I can improve for the coming year.  An off season is crucial to overall fitness, helps alleviate burnout, allows for recovery from any nagging injuries from the previous season, but more importantly, allows for your running muscles to be worked in a different way and helps you enjoy your run even more.

The last six weeks I’ve been focusing on strength work and I’ve made some gains in the gym.  I lift four days a week with a rest day on Wednesday. The focus is muscular strength. Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle group to develop maximal contractile force against a resistance in a single contraction. Put more simply, it’s the heaviest weight you can lift in good form, one time. Traditionally, you hear some folks talk about their bench press max or their squat max or maybe even their dead lift max…there are other lifts, but you get the picture.  I do a four day split to focus on Chest & Triceps, Back & Biceps, Legs, and Shoulders, Traps & Core.

During my race season I still lift, but I lift for muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle group to exert submaximal force for extended periods. Again, put more simply, it’s the number of times you can lift a weight that is less than your 1-rep max. It’s all relative to the person, but having some level of muscular strength and muscular endurance is important to overall fitness and important to helping you perform better as a runner.

Runners who work both muscular endurance and muscular strength are less injury prone, faster, can tackle a more diverse terrain, and recover faster than a runner who focuses solely on “just running more.”

So, with the that being said, I am ready to move on to the next phase of training which includes increasing my weekly mileage and working on muscular endurance. Game on!

Happy Training,

Brian

Running in your Dreams

Do you ever dream that you’re running? Not like, “AAAHHHH!!!! THE BEAR IS GOING TO EAT ME!!” …running, but dreaming that you are on a great run. Not just a great run, but the best run of your life! On this run your lungs are feeling great with nary a burn. Your legs feel like you could run until dawn. Your energy level is so high that your only thought is to see what’s over that next rise. It is without a doubt THE best run that you’ve ever ran. It. Is. Perfect.

Screenshot 2014-06-08 10.56.03

Goodbye dream, goodbye sleep, goodbye nice warm bed as it is time to hit the floor! EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, STUPID ALARM CLOCK!! (snooze)….. 7 minutes of wonderful snooze…who decided that a snooze is 7 minutes long anyway…I mean 7 minutes? seriously?…..doesn’t matter….ahhhh, it cannot get better…this bed is the best bed since beds were invented as it is mine and it is warm and it is comfy and this would be a horrible run on sentence if i were not  sleeping right this very…EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH, EH…STUPID ALARM CLOCK! Who the hades has me running at 5am!?!?!?!?…stupid bad man! Ok ok ok ok…i’m awake…why did I stay up for the Project Runway Marathon on Lifetime…??

Sleep is important. Sleep to the average non-athlete is important. Sleep to someone who lives an active lifestyle or who is training for an event like a marathon, Ironman or other feat of endurance is even more important.  Here’s why:

1. Sleep curbs inflammation. Research indicates that people who get six or fewer hours of sleep each night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.  Your body needs time to reduce inflammation from your daily activities as well as from the bouts of exercise you put it through.

2. Sleep improves performance. A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more endurance.  The results of this study further support previous research seen in tennis players and swimmers.

3. Sleep assists in weight loss / maintenance. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.)  Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite the study reports.

4. Sleep helps with water reabsorption. During sleep, the kidney balances water, sodium and other electrolytes. Without enough water the kidneys can’t balance electrolytes properly. So make sure you’re well hydrated so this very important can happen during sleep!

5. Sleep is when you build / rebuild the brick house. Please excuse our mess while we make improvements for your future enjoyment. You go out for a long run, you take an hour and destroy it in the weight room, you tear it up on hill repeats, you run a PR. All of these tear you down and you need time to make repairs. Sleep is when you do this.

6. Sleep keeps you sane. In fact it is crucial to sanity. It seems that while you are busy doing your day job, your brain actually works nights and has quite a bit to get done while you are unconscious. Yes, running keeps us sane too, but sleep, it turns out is more important still!

So, it’s obvious that sleep is important, but how much do you need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Okay, 7-9 hours of sleep. Are you getting enough? This is if you are NOT an athlete.

If you ARE an athlete in training, that may not be enough. Now, just because you don’t consider yourself an athlete doesn’t mean you are not. If you are training to do a marathon, 5K, half marathon, Ironman, 10K, triathlon, duathlon or just go to the gym several days a week to stay fit, maintain or lose weight or play racquet ball with your best friend then guess what?  …you’re an athlete.

“Just as athletes need more calories than most people when they’re in training, they need more sleep, too,” says Dr. David Geier, MD, director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. All the stress and grueling practices require more time to recover. Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, recommends that an athlete in training should sleep about an hour extra per night.

That’s eight to ten hours of sleep each night especially for those big training sessions like weekly long runs.

I know it’s difficult. Kids, work, homework, PTA, volunteering, family time, church, date night, chores, house work, social life, gardening, band practice, t-ball, alone time, vacation, bake sale AND you are also training to run the Dopey Challenge.

So, maybe don’t go for the 100% win of 10 hours of sleep each night. Maybe instead, track your sleep for the next 14 days and see where you are in regards to the amount of sleep you get. Next, if you’re under the minimum then try to get an extra 30 minutes each night of the week and maybe an extra hour the nights before and after your long run. It may not be what the doctor ordered, but it’s a step in the right direction!

Now excuse me please, I need to get to sleep!

Happy training and sweet dreams!

Brian

A Massage…go get one.

I stopped by the local Sports Massage School for a long overdue massage last Friday in lieu of going to the gym. This was a good decision as the therapist told me I had a band of muscle under my left scapula the size of a highlighter that was keeping my shoulder blade from moving properly. This would explain the pain in that area during any long distance running including my last four races.

The massage felt great until an hour later when I felt like I had completed a really exhausting back workout the day before and the muscles were very fatigued.  I almost typed that it felt like someone had beat the crap out of me…but in a good way. This feeling was a GOOD thing as it was needed (the massage…not the feeling of a beating) and it told me how bad the tightness in my scapula area had become.

The therapist had to dig in and work the tightness out of my back muscles.  This is something that doesn’t go away with rest, ice, compression, and elevation…or even heat.  It takes someone who knows what they are doing to work it out otherwise it comes right back. If you do a lot of running or biking or swimming then remember that massage is an important part of your overall training regimen. This is a hard lesson I forgot. I have another massage scheduled in three weeks.

Even though the research is still accumulating for all of the benefits associated with massage some of the benefits of massage include:

  • Increased circulation to specific areas
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased muscle stiffness
  • Increased performance*

I put an asterisk next to the last one because the jury is still out, but from personal experience if I have less pain in my shoulder during long runs as a result of a massage sessions and I then can push farther and faster for longer distances then my performance has increased thus that last bullet item is true for me.

If your massage budget looks like mine due to most funding going for race registrations 😉 then do like I do.

  1. Find a local massage school (try for a clinical school that instructs primarily for hospitals or rehab)
  2. Find out when they start classes
  3. Wait a couple months so the new students get some clinical hours under their belt
  4. Schedule it and relax!

Happy Training!

Brian

Recovery

Recovery is perhaps the most difficult thing for someone after the big event. Whether it’s your first 5K or your second unofficial Goofy Challenge there is a mixed bag of emotions that come with crossing the finish line.  Joy, relief, determination, excitement, the feeling that you WON’T be doing THAT again anytime soon, and the realization 24 hours later that you can’t wait to do it again…and better this time.

Besides recovering emotionally there is of course the physical component. There are some things you can do immediately post race to help your body recover “faster”.  I put the word faster in quotes because time to recovery is relative to the individual and is a complicated equation.

Here are just a few things that effect time to recovery.

  • Age
  • Training Time for the Event (did you train for it or foolishly jump in over your head? …like me)
  • Previous training (high school track doesn’t count unless you never stopped)
  • Nutrition –> A lot goes under this one
  • Rest (immediately after the event AND the weeks following)
  • Rehab
  • Time
Age

We can’t do a lot about this one except keep training as that is the only way to minimize the effects of one more trip around the sun. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something. You can’t outrun time.  Just ask Captain Hook.

Training Time for the Event

Did you give yourself enough time to train for the event or did you wait until you had the bare minimum time to start a program? A lot of people will take 16-20 weeks to train for a marathon and 12-16 weeks for a half marathon. When I decided to run my first marathon I gave myself a year to train with a LOT of mile markers along the way.  I ran three 5Ks, one 4.5 mile race and four half marathons on my way to running my first marathon at Disney.  Preparation is key. Make the decision and go for it.  When you are well trained recovery takes less time.  Now days, I only need a day after a half marathon and I’m back full force 2-3 days after a full marathon.

Previous Training

Is this your first rodeo or is this your 6th or 60th marathon?  If you continue to train (with periods of rest and cross training) then recovery will be easier and faster. Only training for eight weeks a year for your annual event will be a trip to eventual injury.  Believe me, it’s harder to start over than it is to slow down a bit, but still keep going.

Nutrition

There is so much under this one that I could right about.  Here are some general recovery tips concerning nutrition.

  1. Hydrate
  2. Fuel before, during, and after a race.
  3. Hydrate
  4. Take in some protein within 30 minutes of ending the event.  Add some carbs to make it even better. I use EAS shakes.
  5. Hydrate
  6. Don’t forget some electrolytes
  7. Don’t over hydrate
Rest

This should be an obvious one, but there are times when after a race that you don’t want to go rest…ahemDisneyRacesahem.  Still, try to get as much rest as possible as soon as possible. After my first Disney marathon I went and took a three hour nap before hitting the parks. Taking it easy is good. Sitting and being off your feet is better.  Sleep is best.

Rehabilitation (Rehab – They tried to make me go…)

This refers to those other things you can do such as:

  1. Ice bath or ice pack
  2. Compression gear
  3. Elevation of the legs
  4. Stretch
  5. Foam Roller
  6. Massage
  7. The Stick
  8. Chiropractor

Many of these can and will speed recovery if used properly. I’ve used ALL of these.

Time

You can’t help but give yourself time to recover. It takes, well, time. After my first Goofy Challenge I was surprised that it took me a month before I felt 100% again and started running again and was able to actually train. I’ve made it a habit to give myself time off after a race and really rest.  I still am active, but in other things besides running.  After my impromptu Goofy Challenge a few weeks ago I focused on weight lifting, short runs of 1-3 miles, and a lot of biking and elliptical.  I just took the time to enjoy working out and not run allowing time for those running muscle to recover.

Happy Recovery!

Brian

You can also follow me on Twitter  @TheRunningMan23

2012 Indianapolis Mini Marathon Recap

There are certain things in life you will never be able to out run.  Some would cite death and taxes as the inevitable, but to add to this short list I would also say you cannot outrun time, police radio and the heat during any length marathon as many discovered on Cinco de Mayo this past Saturday for the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

The Stats

According to the local paper the men’s top finisher this year had the slowest time in two decades due to the heat at 01:05:08.  The women’s top finisher came in about 10 minutes later at 01:15:22 and then was removed from the finish area by stretcher due to heat exhaustion. My own experience also saw the effects of the heat. I was feeling fine 5-6 miles into the run and then realized my pace had slowed drastically around mile seven on the Indy 500 Motor Speedway 2.5 Mile Track. Overall, I am happy with my time of 02:19:52 which was still good enough to get seeded for next year’s race. The heat slowed me down by 14 minutes as compared to my 2011 PR.

This year I started in Corral D.  To give you some perspective the Indianapolis Mini Marathon is the largest half marathon in the United States selling out the last 11 years. The 35,000 runners come from all 50 states and quite a few other countries to run the flat and fast Indy course. I started the run at a good pace hoping the heat wouldn’t bother me as much as I actually like running in the heat, but while the heat wasn’t so bad for me ranging from the upper 60s to upper 70s the humidity was over 90% with a dew point of 68 making it difficult to dissipate heat from your body. Otherwise the day was very nice and I even felt comfortable on the run once I slowed my pace to a speed that was more manageable for the day’s weather.

Recovery

After the race I continued drinking Gatorade and water, ate a banana, a cookie, and two fruit snacks offered at the finish. I knew I needed to keep nutrients and fluids flowing to my system to combat the effects of the heat.  Once I got back to my car I had my traditional EAS Chocolate Myoplex Shake. My family had a BBQ that afternoon and I indulged a little for a race well run and to kick off the summer right!  I kept drinking fluids the entire afternoon to work on rehydrating my body.  Many people stop because they already have had a bottle of water after the race.  Please don’t make this mistake.  The best indicator that you are rehydrated is when you finally urinate a light yellow to clear color after the race.  For me that didn’t happen until over 11 hours after the end of the race. This tells me that I was very dehydrated after the race.  It took over 11 hours to even feel the urge to go!  Once I got home I wore my Zoot Compression Socks to help the blood flow back to my heart and to assist in vacating any lactic acid build up in my lower legs. Planned recovery efforts can make a big difference between enjoying the days after a race and suffering for several days. I’ll take Sunday off and then do a light workout on Monday most likely hitting a short 2-3 mile run and a light full body weights workout.

Next Race

My next run is the Hendrick’s County Park 2 Park Relay where I will join five other teammates to run 60-miles to raise money for the local Hendrick’s County Park system.

Moving Forward

This coming week starts a ramp up to my ultra marathon training which will officially begin in two weeks. I’m excited to start training for this new challenge!

Happy Training!

Brian

Carmel Marathon Recap

Happy Belated Earth Day!  Odd way to start a running blog post I know, but the Saturday of the Carmel Marathon was Earth Day after all.  I realized this when I saw my finishers medal on Saturday, but I digress.

To say this was a standard marathon run would be far from reality. First, I decided to do this marathon at about 7:00pm the Thursday before the race. Second, not only was this race impromptu I hadn’t really been training for it.  I had done several longer runs with a good friend of mine who had the sense to actually train for this 26.2 mile adventure, but otherwise I had been focused on trying for a PR on May 5th at the Indianapolis Mini Marathon.  As fate would have it I tweaked my knee a couple weeks ago doing some core work which made speed a problem for me.  It turned out to be more of a bother than a true injury.

…don’t worry, I had my knee checked by an NP and my chiropractor independently.  Both came to the same conclusion independently that I had just tweaked it a little and that there was no ligament or meniscus damage. They both told me to take it easy for a week by cutting my mileage volume and to return to full activity as I saw fit. As I returned to full activity I realized that speed was an issue, but distance wasn’t so I decided “what the hey!” and registered for the marathon. I had done all the long runs with my friend so I felt the distance was in reach. One caveat is that my PR goal for the Mini Marathon is on hold for now.

So back to the marathon recap!

The Weather:

I ran the Carmel half marathon last year for the inaugural event when it was scheduled in June. That race was super hot and my performance suffered as I came in 20-30 minutes behind what I expected from my 02:05:00+ performance at the Indy Mini Marathon in May.

This year was chillier with temperatures in the low to mid 40s for most of the race and a 14mph wind that chilled you when running into it. The weather was predicted to break and get a little sunnier with temperatures in the low 50s.  This never happened so the entire race was in the 40s and overcast.

I'm cold. Do I look cold? Because I am...

The Run:

I started out with my friend and quickly had to slow as my left shin was super tight. I told my friend to go it alone and I dropped back. Somewhere around mile 5 a lady approached and remarked that I was not Lou Mongello.  Lou is the founder of the WDW Radio Running Team and the online podcast phenomena by the same name (sans running).  I was wearing my WDW Radio Running Team shirt for the race. It’s pretty cool when someone so far from Disney recognizes the shirt and the efforts of the team toward the Dream Team Project and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Eventually I saw and started running with the 5-hour pace group. The group was small and the pacer, Marie, was very talkative!  She had 100s of stories it seemed and had herself run a couple hundred marathons.  She didn’t count ultra marathons in that number though because she liked to know the straight count on those as well.  She’s training to run the Comrades Ultra Marathon and Badwater. Besides being a marathon maniac, she was also  a little insane…I liked her immediately!  🙂

A little over halfway to the finish!

I stayed with this group until mile 15, but then dropped back with another runner.  We made a valiant effort to keep the 5-hour pacer in sight, but it wasn’t to be.  Still, I knew there was a 5:30:00 pacer somewhere behind us so I didn’t worry.  My new running partner and I took on a run/walk regimen for the remainder of the race and kept on motivating each other.  Thanks Lisa!

The Finish:

It wasn’t long and the miles ahead became less than the miles behind us. Soon after we were running through the Carmel Art & Design district headed for the finish line. On the final stretch I kicked it into gear for a sprint to the finish.

I'm the blue dot about in the center.

I finished up by doing a few high (or medium rather) fives as I went into the finisher’s chute. All my friends had waited for me to finish. Luckily I didn’t make them wait too long….well, except Dave.  He finished in a little over 4 hours!  He’s a machine!

A few low to medium fives as I run into the finisher's chute.

All in all it was a good day. I PR’d by 09:41, met a lot of cool people, and added another marathon to the list.  There’s only one other marathon road race in the local Indy area that I haven’t run, the Indianapolis Marathon, but I’ll have to wait until next year to run that one as I already am running a trail marathon on that same day this year near West Lafayette, IN.

Happy Training!

Brian

This Week in The Gym with Your Host…

What a fantastic week of training! I hit the gym all five days this week and hope to keep that trend going in the weeks to come.

Here’s the breakdown in case you don’t follow me on the Dailymile.

Monday

My Monday workouts have been a combination of weights, running, and biking. I hit the weights for a hard and fast leg workout across thirty minutes doing super sets and trios of exercises with minimal rest between. Once I’m done with the weights I jump on the treadmill for a run. The first week I did just a mile and this past week I did two miles at a sub-9:30 pace. After the run I jumped on the stationary bike for the remaining time and covered 5 miles. This was 1-mile more than the previous week on the same day. I worked out for over an hour and left the gym feeling great!

Tuesday

On Tuesdays I hit the weights again, but go for the upper body regimen similar to my Monday workout of supersets, combo sets and trios. I take about 30 minutes for this routine and then hit the bike to give my running muscles a chance to rest. Tuesday I rode for 9.5 miles in about 46 minutes. Not bad for one of the longest rides I’ve had to date.

Wednesday

Wednesday is a specific run workout for speed. I do interval training with all types of distances, but this time it was 6×400. I start with a 1-mile warm-up at a 10min pace and then go into the intervals with a 400m rest interval (R.I.) as well. At the end I decided to cut the last R.I. and instead just increased the speed. I finished up by slowing to the 10min pace again and going for another half-mile for the cool-down.

Thursday

Thursday is another run rest day so I started out on the elliptical for less impact but a good cardiovascular burn. I kept at it for 3 miles and ten switched to the stationary bike. I rode for 4.25 miles to finish up the hour long workout and hit the showers after a good stretch.

Friday

Friday was another specific run workout. I hadn’t ran for any significant distance since the Goofy Challenge so I decided since I have a half-marathon coming up in two months that I needed to start rebuilding my endurance. Friday was a 7-miler and I wanted it to be a tempo run of sorts so I started out at a 10min pace and sped up a bit when I had 1.25miles to go. Overall it was a great run and I finished feeling good with gas still left in the tank.

Nutrition

Another victory this week is my nutritional plan. I hit my EAS whey protein shakes after every workout for recovery and I can tell a big difference from when I don’t take in the extra protein for recovery.  Per my usual routine I eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day, take in the required amount of fiber and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I had one splurge meal on Saturday and by the end of the week I was down 4 lbs. This is perfect as it means I’m sending my body all the right messages in regards to weight loss and performance.

The Week Ahead

This coming week I am repeating last week’s workouts with some minor tweaks. I plan to cut one super set on legs to allow for an extra mile on the run. I’ll continue to rotate exercises to keep my leg muscles guessing and adapting. The same goes for my weights workout on Tuesday for upper body. Wednesday and Friday will be specific run workouts for intervals and tempo runs and Thursday will be dedicated to just getting a good calorie burn on the elliptical and the bike.

One addition for this coming week is a long slow distance run (LSD) on Sunday with a friend of mine. He’s training for a full marathon in April, the same half marathon I’m training for in May, a duathlon in September and I’m sure several other races this year. My goal this week is to continue my weight loss toward my 170 lbs goal.

Have a great week and happy training!

Brian

Recovering from being Goofy

I’ve blogged before about how I feel that rest & recovery are just as important as the actual training sessions we do to prepare ourselves for any event. I’ve read about and witnessed too many fellow athletes who have pushed and pushed only to overtrain themselves to an injury when a simple day off could have prevented the “medically mandated and mandatory downtime”.

So with this in mind I want to share the methods I used during the Goofy Challenge Weekend to feel well rested and ready for the next event even after three back-to-back race days equaling 42.4 miles.

Nutrition

I want to talk about nutrition in two ways, the WHAT and the WHEN.

What: Protein & Carbs

A combination of protein and carbs is best for helping muscles, tendons, ligaments and the body as a whole recover from an intense session of training. My personal opinion is that the protein is most important, but that the carbs help increase the recovery of damaged systems. It’s fairly common knowledge that an exercise session does some amount of damage to muscles and that when recovery is allowed the muscles repair to a “bigger, stronger, faster” state.

From previous blogs you know that I am an EAS guy or a Pacific Health Labs guy. I like EAS because I can tolerate and even enjoy their ready-to-eat shakes as well as their powdered products. I would dare to say that EAS has the best tasting products I’ve ever had in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been drinking protein shakes. Every exercise session (cardio, race, weights, spin, run, etc) is followed by protein intake and many times carbs too.

When: Before, During & After

Before:

First let’s discuss carb loading. If you read a lot like I do then you know by now that the pre-race night spaghetti dinner is completely NOT needed except for the camaraderie of it all which IS important on the mental side of things. By all means go have fun chatting with fellow participants and make those connections with fellow athletes! Just don’t stuff yourself with too much pasta.

However, if you want to carb load then just sip on some Gatorade or Powerade throughout the day 24-48 hours in advance of your race or endurance event. To clarify, on the Thursday and Friday before a race I sip on Gatorade throughout the day and have a couple meals with a serving or two of carbs. This amount of carbohydrate is all that is needed to “top off the tank” before an event. Next, choose a combination of carbs and protein for your pre-race meal (breakfast usually) and stick with this for every event.  For me, I eat a peanut butter crunch cliff bar and drink some gatorade or water along with a half cup of coffee 60-90 minutes before a race.  That’s it…no big secret. This was my exact breakfast before each event of Goofy Weekend.

Finally, I do use gels and my product of choice is Accel Gels by Pacific Health Labs due to the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Taking in a small amount of protein along with carbohydrate has been shown to reduce exercise induced muscle damage which is an inhibitor of performance and endurance in long distance events. This also helps reduce recovery time as there is less damage to recover from after an event.  Make sense? I pop a gel 15 minutes before my race to get a good kick start. I did this before each race on Goofy Weekend except the 5K…no need due to the shorter distance, but could have if I wanted.

During:

Not much to type here that I didn’t just type in that last paragraph. I use gels, Gataorade, Powerade, Accelerade, etc during a race or other endurance event. I used them during the Goofy Challenge as well.

One other thing I used during the full marathon was chocolate covered espresso beans. Sounds odd I know, but a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans will give you quite the mental and physical kick when you need it the most. If you want to try this be sure to see how these wonderful little magic beans interact with your digestive system BEFORE race day. In fact, I would test them several times on a long run (15-20 miles) before employing them for an event. I had my wife carry them and hand them to me around mile 11 of the course from the sidelines. Talk about a rush of mental clarity!

Finally, I did ingest a single salt packet during the marathon on Sunday (like you get from any take-out restaurant) to make sure my sodium levels were replenished in the Florida heat and humidity.

After:

Post race nutrition is many times overlooked by recreational athletes. They accept the bag of chips, cookies and bananas that the volunteers are handing out on the way to get their picture taken and call it a day. What you should be doing is realizing that as soon as you cross the finish line a stop watch starts on a window of opportunity for maximizing recovery for damaged muscles.

30-60 minutes is the window. If I have a “cheer squad” with me that day then I’ll have them carry an EAS shake to hand me as soon as I finish with my picture (Hey, I still get the pic, but I’m just thinking about the nutrition!).  If I am solo that day then I will stash an EAS shake in my gear bag at the bag check and be sure to grab it as soon as I finish. Combine the EAS shake with the free banana (or other easy carb) at the finish line and you have a combination that gets you on your way to a speedy post race recovery. You could also stash or have someone carry any other type of protein shake/recovery drink besides EAS…I just like that brand personally and EAS uses whey protein which absorbs into the body faster than other types of protein.

R.I.C.E

R.I.C.E.? Isn’t that an acronym used in first aid?  Yep! It’s also the best means by which to recover from extended exercise in my humble opinion. Though I rearrange the letters to I.C.E.R. which is slightly more difficult to remember and is only technically a real word. What is an “Icer” anyway? Sometimes a football coach is an “Icer” when they call a timeout before the opposing team’s field goal attempt. According to Webster’s dictionary an Icer has to do with baking or covering food with ice…so yeah…captain tangent…..apologies…Webster’s pushing it I think.

Ice:

Or ice bath rather. WHAT?!!? Yes, you read right. I will swear on a stack of runner’s world magazines that “taking the plunge” will do more for post-race recovery than…well…I don’t know, but it really really helps! An ice bath reduces inflammation BIG TIME and almost immediately. I take a 20 minute ice bath as soon as I can after finishing a race. I did this right after the half and full marathon on Saturday and Sunday. It made a big difference for me.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Grab a stop watch or wear a watch.
  2. Draw a bath with cold water only. Fill the tub enough to cover your legs completely.
  3. Throw in a bag of ice from the corner grocery OR just dump the entire ice container from the freezer in there.
  4. Get in for 20 minutes.

That’s it. Take a deep breath and take the plunge. I did this every Saturday after every long run for almost a year when I first started running and I truly believe it helped me recover from those long runs.

Compression:

There are many products on the market for compression including a simple ACE bandage from the drug store. I go a little more high tech with mine and use Zoots compression gear. I’ll admit they are a bit expensive, but they are designed for triathletes and are at the top of the list for quality.

The story behind compression gear is that it forces lactic acid and other waste products out of the lower limbs for a faster recovery. As an example compression socks are used in hospitals post surgery for the same reason. A good product will have enough pressure to even raise your heart rate a bit as it will need to work harder in order to force blood flow into the lower leg. If you happen to have any cardiac or blood pressure issues it would be advisable to check with your doctor before using these products for recovery.

As soon as I dried off from the ice bath I put on my Zoots compression socks for the remainder of the evening. I even slept in them the night of the marathon.

Elevation:

For ninety minutes to two hours I elevated my legs with a pillow after each Goofy event. This is just a common knowledge practice. Use gravity to help return blood to the heart and help to remove waste from the legs. I also (as much as possible) tried to sleep with my legs elevated…at least I started off sleeping that way.

Rest:

This goes right along with the elevation piece. Notice I didn’t go walk around the parks Saturday night…I rested.  Yeah, it killed me to do so for the second straight year…I need more park time that doesn’t include stopping for Biofreeze! 🙂

So anyway, I rested after the half on Saturday and then had a nice early dinner, caught a sit down show (Cirque du Soleil) then went to bed shortly after 9:00pm. On Sunday I did all the previous and then took a short nap before heading to EPCOT in the afternoon.

On a rest side note I also took it easy on Friday before the half marathon and I went to bed early. Rest isn’t always about recovery.

Finally, after I completed the Goofy I have taken it easy for a week afterwards in regards to running and training in general. I was planning on getting back to the gym a week ago, but have been sidelined by a nasty rhino virus after my own mandatory week of recovery so I ended up with two weeks of inactivity (rest) before initiating training for my next race. I’m back in the gym this coming week though and ready to start training for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. I’m hoping for a PR this year!

So that’s it. I feel that I have a good recovery regimen for endurance events. That being said I am always looking for something to add so I can recover better or faster.

Happy Training!

Brian