Saturday, August 4, 2018

Recovery

Recovery is fickle. No pill, plan, or massage can guarantee you will feel fresh in x amount of time. Some may even extend your recovery time and potentially leave you injured and off the trail. Time is the only remedy. Sleep in, eat more, run none, and energy will slowly creep into your legs. While some runners need only a few days to fully recover, others may need as much as two weeks or longer to feel back up to par. You simply have to give your legs and body the time and energy they need to heal.  

Shortly after a long, difficult workout or race, my legs feel worked but are generally loose. Im able to walk, albeit slightly bow legged, and thoughts of real food swim through my head. Then I sit down. Muscles tighten, blood fights to circulate, and ultimately my legs turn into pegs. For the next several  days, my legs are stiff and reluctant to do any real physical activity. Sometime during this period of stiffness, I usually go for a small run just to shake out the cobwebs and get the blood pumping again. Relief!!! A nice stretch and a hot shower turn my legs back into snappy rubberbands with boundless energy. I'm cured!!! Immediately I begin planning my next big workout. 20 miles? Better make it 22. Vert? Oh yeah, all the vert. An Everest amount of vert. And then I go run this crazy thing and surprise, surprise my legs feel like crap.

If only I had taken it lighter and gone for a 2 mile jog instead of a 22 all out blitz, my recovery would have been much different.  There is a threshold where more miles start hurting you rather than helping you.  Long, fast efforts are an essential tool for any ultra runner but they must be undertaken with the right perspective. A week after a big 50k is not the time for an LFD(long fast distance). Go for 7 miles, see how the legs feel, go home, EAT, SLEEP, and hang out with friends. Say no to the "recovery" pills and turbo shakes and say yes to time with good friends and good food. That is all.          

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