Post by: Annie Weiss, Swiftwick ambassador, ultra-runner & dietitian.
When I started running a couple years back, I was racing hard with half and full marathons with an ultra squeezed in here and there; basically pushing it every weekend for a solid eight week period.
Was I resting? Relaxing? Anything? Nope. Why would I do that?! Recovery is for the birds. But then it catches up to you… Injuries for short or long periods of times. Horrendous training days. Low heart rates. Slow paces. It’s a nightmare, and yet most athletes continue to push.
I absolutely without a doubt hate and love recovery SO MUCH. The battle in my head is exhausting. When I’m not doing something that produces a good sweat, I’m basically a caged animal.
Recovery has been the hardest adjustment for me since starting one year ago on reaching my running career goals. But I have to do it. It’s like air or water- recovery is nonnegotiable. I had to learn to slow down, stop moving and turn my brain off. And all of these necessities involved in recovery have made a huge difference. Even if my body doesn’t “feel” like I need recovery, it still does. We don’t really “feel” what our muscles are going through after any size run.
So how do you turn hate into love when it comes to recovery?
I know for me, I will always have an underlying hate towards sore, tight muscles that don’t want to move as fast right away. But that time between the race and next training period can be so valuable. Fall in love with it! Embrace it.
1. Take at least a week or two off after racing (if not upwards of a month).
That’s truly the right way to recover in terms of time off.
2. In whatever time frame you or your coach establishes, eat and hydrate.
Don’t skimp on calories because you are afraid of weight gain. High quality protein and carbs are essential at least 80% of the time. Get in omega 3s, turmeric, and other anti-inflammatories. You are super swollen at the cellular level after racing; don’t neglect the interworking of the muscles. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day and limit caffeine.
Any time you can, rest the legs and rest the mind. This is your body’s time to repair. If you need to move, do it in the pool. Stretch. Roll. For me, I have a series of PT exercises I work through in recovery week that simply stretch out my IT bands, hips and hamstrings.
4. Stay present.
Enjoy and embrace the recovery period. You might meditate, go to yoga, or practice breathing techniques. Do what works for you, but keep your mind present.
Respecting your body more by properly recovering allows you, in the next training period, to push your limits even more and reach the next set of goals. I promise you, it will pay off. When you are good to your body, your body is good to you!