The BMO Vancouver Marathon was just 10 days ago, I'm reminding myself. Being a runner with an A-type personality, it's hard to stop after a big race. So, in the past, I haven't stopped and the outcome was not always positive. Sometimes, I've ended a racing season completely exhausted and my progress plateaus. Other times, my racing season ends before I'm ready due to injury. Now, a little older and a little wiser, I've come up with my top rules to recovery:
- Mental Check In. Hey, you just ran a race, whether it was a 10k, half marathon, marathon or anything else! Take some time off and let your body take a big sigh. Regardless if the race went the way you wanted or not, you put in a great effort so give your body a break, before you break your body.
- Eat Well. After the race, I do love the taste of chocolate milk and it's a bonus that it's great for recovery. Aside from that, make sure you eat well. I essentially feed my body what it's craving, as long as it's fairly clean. My stomach can be quite sensitive after a marathon because of the energy gels so I treat it as nice as possible. Keep in mind that you just put your body through a big ordeal so feed it and feed it well but be smart about it.
- Sleep. Your body will love you because it recovers best with lots of sleep. You no longer have long runs to do so use that extra hour or two and have a little sleep in.
- Permission to Not Run/Commit. This is my biggest lesson. It's easy to fall into the mind game of not wanting to lose the fitness you've gained, but resist the urge. The general rule is 1 day of recovery for every mile you run. This means, you have earned 26 days of recovery after a marathon. This doesn't mean don't run at all, although you certainly can. This means you have given yourself permission for a time out, guilt-free. For me, I don't talk about training or racing until that time is over.
- Have Fun! You spent so much time training that you may have passed up opportunities to do other activities or see your friends so use this time to catch up. Go out, watch movies, catch up with friends, see your family, do yoga, ride your bike, take a class, try a new restaurant, take a vacation. The possibilities are endless.
So, those are my tips to a successful recovery! Congratulations on accomplishing your big race and I'll see you out there (in a few weeks)!