Thursday, February 7, 2008

Recovering from a 100 Mile Race

Once you get to the finish line of a 100 mile race (or not, as the case may be), the beginning of recovery starts. Everyone goes through their trials on how to recover (Scott Dunlap has great interviews with various runners), and finds out what works for them and what doesn't. After four years I have my routine, and it seems to be working well for me. So here's what I do after a 100 mile run to assure my body can begin training again.

    -- as quickly as possible eat/drink carbohydrates and protein, and as close to a 4:1 ratio as possible. Either I drink Odwalla's Super Protein drink or Endurox R4, or just eat and drink to my delight.

    -- take an ice bath. As uncomfortable as this might be, it is the single best thing to get the inflammation down in my legs. I fill the bath with cold water while I'm sitting in it. When it gets up to my toes, I add one or two bags of ice. Sarah refers to me as the human cocktail.

    -- speaking of cocktails, I try to relax at night with my feet up on the couch with a favorite Scotch or Whiskey. Seems like a good reward for all that running. In Hawaii it was Mai Tais in the Manao Surfrider patio overlooking Waikiki Beach with some other runners. When in Rome....

    -- take post-race recovery vitamins to replenish/store up those micronutrients I either depleted or need for muscle repair.

    -- don't run at all for two weeks. I believe I adopted this from something Garett Graubin mentioned on a run. As I'm a fairly older runner, it's worked well for me. I am always eager to get out and run again, but taking the rest makes it easier to regain mileage later on.

    -- when I do get out for a run (this is the first week of running post-HURT) I go really slow to keep my heart-rate down. I'm really trying to gauge how my body is feeling, how my muscles are responding and where my tendons and ligaments are still tender. After HURT I noticed that my metatarsals are particularly tender given all the ankle-twisting roots and mud. This keeps me from pushing hard up hills or taking downhills too fast. The first week I run quite slow; the second week I'll pick up the tempo; and the third week I see how far I can push myself without any dashboard lights coming on. Then I'm done with the diagnostics and ready to start training again.

    -- get two massages in the fourth and fifth weeks post-race. Don't get the massage too early or you'll be more sore from the massage than receiving any true benefit from it.

    -- try to get lots of sleep, especially naps during the weekends. This goes on for about four weeks. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Lastly, the weekend after the big race, I try to have a nice big dinner with friends - grass fed steak, spinach and potatoes. For no other reason than it's my favorite meal and it's a reward for all the effort and time I put in to train, run and recover from my adventure.

The last few times I've attempted long runs this routine seems to work well for me. Others have their more scientific routines. Mine takes about four or five weeks. Then I'm back to a new training regimen.

Update: Sometimes you read something timely on a completely different subject and realize how much it is in sychronicity with a recent post. Yesterday I read this about maintaining military equipment in developing countries:

"Maintenance --a dull, unpleasant, and yet necessary task--is an indication of discipline, esprit de corps, and faith in the future, because you maintain only what you plan to use for the long term."
-- Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts

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