Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend. Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year. What do you do after the race? When do you come back? How do you properly recover? Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran? That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news. Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!
While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event. There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:
How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:
Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon? Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan? You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K. The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.
How Do You Feel?
This is a two part question. While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally. If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love. What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable? This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event. All runners go through this. We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.
Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps. We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.
Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:
One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries. They are almost inevitable. Most often, we train through these injuries. Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race. It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal. Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training. But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach. Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.
There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs. Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping. Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques. When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.
Take Some Time To Reflect:
How do you feel your training went? Are there things you would change? What about the race? Was it enjoyable? Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else? Do you feel like this was a negative experience?
All of these questions are important to consider for your future. Maybe you need a revenge race. If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward. Perhaps something went wrong in training. The actual race might not have been the right one for you.
If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better. Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?
Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun? That is okay. Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content. Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.
Races and endurance events can be a great experience. It can also take a mental and physical toll. Your first goal should be to take care of you. Rest and recovery are important. This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato. Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy. Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family. Keep moving and take care of you!
Did you race this past weekend? How was your experience?