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Lessons From The Marathon Part 5 - Recovery

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This is the last I will bore you with the details but again, I feel its important. Its not so much a how to but rather it is more what I experienced and what I did about it. I hope someone is helped by it or, like in my last post, doesnt make the same boneheaded mistakes I made and they run a better race.

-Immediately post race-

As soon as I could I got some Recoverite in my system asap. It has always helped in the past so it was a part of my routine. I also had some chocolate milk as well

If you didnt already know it, chocolate milk has a fantastic rep for being a good recovery drink.

I really needed to keep moving or else I would seriously start to stiffen up. I read that it is critical to keep moving after the race so that is what I did and it seemed to help.

-Ice Bath-
this was torture but I experienced alot of benefit from my long run training. It made a huge difference in the level of felt inflammation and discomfort. My basic understanding of it is that the ice bath not only reduces the inflammation but also causes a certain amount of constriction in the muscles that will help move waste byproducts from the system. As this was the first 26.2 distance I have ever done, I have nothing to compare it to by not taking one but I will say that for my long runs, it made a HUGE difference in how fast I was able to snap back and start running again.


-Rolling out the affected areas-

Using a foam roller was torture so I switched over to the stick. The roller was far to difficult to use under extremely sore conditions. I found it very difficult to use it and maintain a level of control so the rolling action was not too aggressive (ie..painful) The Stick allowed me to have more control as to exactly how much pressure to put on the affected areas. Later on in my recovery, when I wasnt so sensitive, I switched up to the roller, no problem, but initially, it was too much.

The Stick, if you dont know already...

-24 hours after the race-

Frankly, I felt like I got hit by a truck. Walking was a privilege, not a right, in spite of my best efforts.
I needed to stretch in the worst way but as stiff and inflexible as I was, it would not have been a good idea to stretch cold muscles.

What really worked for me...

I made use of the hotels hot tub and pool. the hot tub served to give me the ability to passively warm up and relax the muscles. then while in the tub, proceeded to do some gentle stretching routines. This helped BIG TIME. Like night and day. I went from that to the pool which was a bit cooler. the hot to cool transition was like magic. I also used the pool to my advantage in that it gave me extra support so I did a number of water-assisted exercises such as lunges and more stretches, stationary kicking, then breast stroke and such just to get moving without the impact. It made a huge difference. After 2 sessions like that over a 48 hr period, I was hitting the mall and at least walking without having to stop to sit down every 5 minutes.

That's progress...

Between the pool and just walking, I made use of the hotels stairs to just do simple stair climbing with some assistance from the hand rail. It was hard work but I got through it and it made a difference in that I was exercising and keeping active.

I know this sounds bad, but the 48 hrs after the race were pretty tough for me. I have to be honest, it was those times I was second guessing everything. I also knew that this was all part of the process, some will do better than others after the race. This was just a tough time for me. I also knew it would get better soon and it did.

It also took about 6-10 hrs to nurse my appetite back to full swing as mentioned back in my last blog.

-7 days + after the race-

I have been walking but very slowly. My muscles were quick to come back but I feel soreness in my tendons, and somewhat in my joints. My muscles feel race ready and are kind of ancy. Walking is about all I can handle right now. In a couple of days I will try a easy jog on the treadmill. The plan right now is to use the treadmill as a safe way to get a feel for where i am at physically.

The benefit of the treadmill as opposed to an outdoor easy recovery run is that the treadmill gives me the opportunity to stop at any time and rest or sit down. If I'm outside and I get unsteady or start hurting, I'm going to have to make a call to get picked up. The treadmill is a much safer option right now until i know where I am at.

this is where I am right now. I feel it will only be a matter of time until i am back on my feet and running.

I miss it but for now I have to take it as it comes and heal up.

-Post marathon blues-

I have heard of it before but never really experienced it until now. I figured something would happen like this so I thought ahead. I had a whole list of goals and a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish after the race including being signed up for a half marathon coming up mid october. I did that a while back based on the info I had at the time being it only took about a week to get over a 20 mile run so i figured i would be safe with almost a month between events. if i have to walk the whole thing, i will, i dont care, i just want to get out there.

Having clearly defined goals has helped somewhat in that I dont feel adrift after the big event. After giving myself to one event all year and all that went into it, it was a little disorienting to see my goal hanging with all of the other medals on the wall, just another keepsake.

I am focusing on losing weight over the winter and we will see what the Spring brings. My goals are big enough that I cant do them at my current weight. I have gone as far as I can fitness-wise at my weight. the weight has to go. Once that happens, we'll start into triathlon but not until i feel my weight is acceptable.

Right now, having the goals has given me direction but that still doesnt take away from the blue feeling I have right now. I'll be ok but I am totally feeling bummed out.

I have learned that in order to succeed, you cannot be ruled by your feelings. Its ok and normal for me to feel this way but not to the point that it dictates what I do. The only way I know of to combat the blues is to take action and let the feelings follow. They will catch up eventually.

I dont mean to end on a blue note but this is where I am at right now. I pushed out all of this info out there, the good, the bad, the ugly and the stupid, in hopes that someone would be better helped as they go after their goal. Its not to make it sound like some grueling event and who the heck would want to do that?

Who?... I would.... it was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done for myself. sure it was tough, but I was made tougher. It was demanding, but i met the challenge. I have met the distance respectfully and succeeded. I will learn from the mistakes, accentuate the positive and do another marathon as soon as I am at a good racing weight.

I want to be able to keep up with the pace bunnies.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v MAGGIE101857
    Keep it coming - every word is useful, whether it is humorous, educational, frustating (for you), or inspirational! I am learning so much from your journey and I thank you for sharing and being so honest!!!
    1756 days ago
  • v IMSMILEY88
    We know you can lose the've proven that, right! So, what a great goal as you reach for the next star! You will reach even greater heights!
    1756 days ago
  • v JEM0622
    Darn them blues! And how fair is that after such a tremendous thing? I can see why some people just keep up with the marathons to avoid it. I know your respite will be full of accomplishment as well! I have 'the stick', but my PT doc said to get the foam roller b/c I cannot hold back on the goodness of what it will do (i.e. with the stick you can let up/cheat if it hurts). All good stuff! emoticon emoticon
    1758 days ago
  • v APIRLRAIN888
    wow now I am scared lol! for my first marathon
    1759 days ago
    Wow, now I know what to expect! I love my foam roller, but I have never been THAT sore!
    1759 days ago
    ANother great blog! Keep your head up. Thanks for all the great info/advice. Best wishes on your journey.
    1760 days ago
    Love the idea of the hot tub, and I love the Stick! Not sure I could handle the ice bath though. Thanks for more good advice and info!
    1760 days ago
    Don't ever think that your blogs are boring. You are one of the strongest, most inspiring and corageous people that I have ever (spark)met! Thank you for having the guts to set such a great example and the honesty to share it with us.....I know just what you are saying about the blues....been thinking something was wrong with me since my last race. Now to get off my pity pot and get going!
    1760 days ago
  • v KAREN_NY
    Not even remotely boring! Love reading your tales & lessons & heartfelt intention to really share it. I also like the dancing at the water stations. ;)

    I'm not sure I'll be bitten by a marathon bug - my time is claimed by so many things - but these lessons are fabulous. Also already thinking that my first HM would be going so much better if I'd lost the weight I planned to lose this summer. I trained, but I kept eating apace, lol.
    1760 days ago
  • v CIVIAV
    Ok and through out I've found myself thinking I could never do that and yet I am now decided I will. This winter is a holding of my 1/2 marathon base and strength training. Another 1/2 in the spring and a whole in next Fall. Your blogs show me I can do this and I will learn things about myself that will help me be more me! Thanks! My stretch goal for my upcoming 1/2 race is 2:30. Whether I keep up with that bunny or not I win! Glad to hear you are too! emoticon
    1760 days ago
    Not boring! And chocolate milk sounds like a very good reason to start running!
    1760 days ago
    I'm right with you. Coming back from Africa - kind of the same sort of blues. You work up to this HUGE LIFE ALTERING EVENT and when it's over and you start to get some distance from it, it's depressing. Took me until now to pull myself together, but it happens and now I'm looking towards the next goal. Allow yourself the feelings - that's the best way to go about it - and they will guide you forward. Insanely proud of you for all you have accomplished.
    1760 days ago
    Allow yourself the post-race blues - but put a limit on them too - declare your 'snap out of it' day - and move on to the next challenge.

    'Knowing' you, at least through your blogs, I'm curious to hear you say that you're shooting for some magic goal weight before you try a Tri - take it from me, you don't need to wait for that magic date. Find an indoor tri near you sometime this winter (LifeTime Fitness sponsors a great series of them nationwide) - and use that to feed your interest, and give you something to train for besides running. The combination of the three events is exhilirating. I think you'll find by doing the indoor Tri that you'll be much more ready to find that first Sprint Tri to register and train for. I can't wait for my next race, and my next Tri - it's all sooooooooooo addicting! Did I mention it can also get expensive? :)

    Much love and luck, friend.

    1761 days ago
    Your candor and honesty are what makes your blogs.. about running, about the marathon, about weight loss, about life.. worth reading, and learning from.
    You've managed the process, from beginning to end and after, so well, and are gracious to share your experiences with us.
    Thank you. You deserve the down/recovery time. I don't doubt you'll be back up and fighting the good fight once again in no time.
    1761 days ago
    Thank you for documenting your first marathon journey. It is very helpful for those of us on our first marathon journey as well. I hope you feel a little less blue soon! I'm not looking forward to that. I'm already sad about crossing off a goal that I've worked for for so long.
    1761 days ago
  • v BILL60
    Great summary. Thank you for sharing.
    1761 days ago
    I think it is awesome that you took time to write out everything that you experienced with this race. It will help others but it is also a great reminder of what you accomplished. Hold on to these blogs so that 10, 15, 20 years from now you can look back and show people what you did and how you felt through the whole process.

    1761 days ago
    WOW. I had no idea! But I guess it is to be expected after such a workout.

    "I have learned that in order to succeed, you cannot be ruled by your feelings. Its ok and normal for me to feel this way but not to the point that it dictates what I do. The only way I know of to combat the blues is to take action and let the feelings follow. They will catch up eventually. "

    This is a emoticon paragraph and is applicable to so many situations. I will probably never run a marathon but as I push my own edge, your insights are very very helpful. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1761 days ago
    i gotta be honest...reading about the AFTERS just makes me cringe. yeah i'm going to ask WHY anyone would put themselves through the after torture? i wasnt aware all that happened...i would expect sore but depression? rollers? yikes!!! Hope you are feeling better soon!!
    1761 days ago
    I hope you can pull out of the blues soon. It will help that you already have another race lined up. I was also hit with a mean case of the blues after the marathon. It was like...I did all this....but who really can understand how I am feeling now?

    I was very lucky on the physical aspect as I am also a 'larger than life' runner - I couldn't hardly walk that day after the marathon but the next morning, I got up and I was fine. I had taken the day off work but there was no need. I am going to knock on some wood now - for luck - so that my next marathon goes as well.

    You are a blessing and we love you. Those of us who have run a marathon do understand how you are feeling. The blues will pass - but it won't be quick - so keep going and you will continue to be awesome!
    1761 days ago
    Truly --
    1761 days ago
    The blues beat me up pretty bad post marathon, I didn't race after of course I had a chewed up hamstring and I'm not so sure I could have raced. When I could run it took me awhile to stop "fearing" longer runs my brain only seemed to recall pain. You seem like you will manage fine and of course there is always the support of wonderful sparkers.
    1761 days ago
    I love the honesty in your blogs.
    1761 days ago
  • v PRINCESS1959
    1761 days ago
    Ha, my dance card is already booked post marathon: Turkey trot in Savannah for Thanksgiving, 15K 3 December in DC, Celtic Solstice 5 miler in Baltimore on 17 December, and Resolution Run 5k in Baltimtimore on New Year Day.
    1761 days ago
    Thanks for all the info - I'll report back on how it works for me this weekend!
    1761 days ago
  • v BLACKROSE_222
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings and experiences. Greatly appreciated. AWESOME JOB and CONGRATS on all that you have achieved!
    1761 days ago
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