Now that I am feeling that my legs have returned to life a bit, it’s time to get back into training a little more and start looking towards what’s next.
The last few weeks have been what I refer to as a reverse taper. You need to taper going into a race to let your legs benefit from all the training and to feel fresh on race day, but you also need to slowly ease back into training following a hard race effort. There have been many times that I have rushed back into hard training too quickly and paid for it with illness and injury. My goal after Haliburton was not to let this happen.
Regardless of whether you have a good race or bad race the motivation to get back out there is always strong. If you run well, you are keen to build on that result, start training hard and take it to the next level. If you have a sub-par race, you are keen to makeup for a bad effort and get back at it as well. So, as you can see, the period following a race is very tricky and needs to be approached with caution. Even when you start to feel a little better, you need to be careful not to run too hard/too long, too soon.
I feel that I am now in a good place to start ramping up a bit again and am quite excited about this. My recovery from Haliburton this year has been considerably quicker than last year. I’ve been trying to do all the things that will aid in recovery like eating a little more protein (and good nutrition in general), getting extra rest and being sure to run on soft surfaces (always a must).
Really, I guess that all of these are things that I’ve focused on over the course of the summer with regards to the high mileage that I’ve done since early June anyhow. It’s really quite amazing that when you focus on all the little things, how they can make a big difference.
Aside from the basics mentioned above, I’ve also found a few things and products that have proved to be quite valuable in my recovery from high mileage in the buildup prior to Haliburton…
First Endurance: I decided to be a little more careful with regards to getting a well balanced diet of the proper vitamins and minerals. I have never been big on taking vitamins/supplements, but have done so this year with a multivitamin, in addition to natural supplements by First Endurance. I did feel that this helped a great deal in my day to day recovery, and also by the fact that I haven’t been sick since starting to take them.
DeFeet Calf Skins: I was a bit of a skeptic with regards to the benefits of compression socks and calf skins. I haven’t used them in training, but did find they were a big help if I slept wearing them on the night after a long run. I noticed that my calves and achilles didn’t feel sore the next day and I was able to run longer and harder than if I hadn’t worn them.
Ice/Injury Prevention: At the first sign of a little twinge, I would immediately back off on the volume and intensity of my training for a few days and pamper the trouble spot. Sure, I would still run, but they would all be shorter and easier runs, followed by plenty of icing and rehab if necessary.
Core: A strong core is key to strong ultra running. I have found that if I go too long without doing some basic core stuff that I start feeling more aches and pains regularly. I try to do a very short and basic core routine 2-3 times per week.
Ice baths: I don’t tend to enjoy taking an ice bath…who does?. However just taking a few minutes of running cold water over your legs can speed up your post run recovery by quite a bit.
Post run food: As mentioned, protein is very important to aid in recovery. After a long run getting some protein into you within the first 15mins will speed up your recovery significantly.
Part of the whole recovery period after a race includes deciding upon what’s next. I’m really excited about next year and being able to use the past year of consistent high mileage and races to work towards bigger goals.
For the near future, I am considering running either a 50mile or possibly even a 100mile race before the end of the year. For 2010 I’m still up in the air about things, but would like to race more than I did in 2009. Some of the races that I have been looking at longingly in the spring and summer of 2010 include Rock and Ice, Western States 100 and Trans Rockies. All of these races are pretty expensive, so we’ll have to wait and see how things play out and also see if there are any potential sponsorship opportunities. Whatever races I finally decide upon are sure to be fun. I can’t wait!