Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reverse Taper: Post race recovery and what's next?

I find it hard to believe that it’s been over two weeks since Haliburton. I’ve replayed the race countless times in my head and it still makes me smile. It’s always nice to feel that way following a race and great to know that there probably isn’t much that you would do differently if you had to do it all over again.

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.

What’s next?

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!


  1. There is always the KneeKnacker Trail Run here in Sunny Vancouver next July, www.kneeknacker.com . I know it is only 30 miles, but you would have free accomodation and Spa treatments after the race. And Colin Dignum and Mark Bates have two of the top ten times, and mentioned to me that you couldn't beat them.

  2. Good advice D! I hope I followed it, I tried too! How about the Rocy Racoon in Feb ;)

  3. Hey Mike,
    Yes, would love to get out for the Knee Knacker and see you guys too. Everything I've heard about the race is that it's an amazing event. Tell you what, I'll come out there and do it if you run it as well.....deal?! Don't know if I mentioned, but we're coming to Banff for a week at the end of Oct...isn't it just down the road from Vancouver? You should stop by!

    Not sure about Rocky Raccoon. I think I'll be in full on winter mode at that point.

  4. Thanks for sharing some recovery tricks - not just from racing but training

    I am sure whatever you do next, you'll kill it. Looking forward to the adventure from this side.

    But I did notice the R&I touque...I am sure that was not intentional.

  5. How about if I volunteer at the event?I'll wear my runners, they are like knew. I think Banff is in another province. We got our first snow on the North Shore Mountains this morning, it was a pretty site to see as I was driving in to work.

  6. No deal Mike. Ok, here's a new one though...

    You commit to a fitness program/streak of getting a minimum of 40mins each day of cardio exercise until at least January 1, and I'll promise to come visit in 2010.

    1. At least 3x per week of must be running.
    2. Other acceptable forms of cardio on other days include brisk walk, bike, elliptical, xc ski.
    3. You are allowed a maximum of 2 free 'no workout' days per month (ie. illness, etc..)
    4. You are accountable and record all of these workouts in an online training log (ie. www.attackpoint.org).


  7. Hey D, can you elaborate a little on the first endurance supplements you were taking? What specifically and where did you get them?


  8. Sure, as mentioned I'm not keen on taking supplements, but have started taking a multivitamin as a sort of insurance policy. I feel that we eat very healthy, but being vegetarian I think it’s important to cover all the bases.

    As for other supplements…
    We received a small sample of First Endurance Optygen to try as part of the La Sportiva Running Team. I was a little skeptical of the First Endurance claims, but saw that Karl Meltzer, Anna Pichrtova and others had been impressed with it. The two main ingredients in Optygen are Cordyceps and Rhodiola Extract; which are traditional/natural roots and herbs from Tibet. After taking Optygen for a month, I was convinced that I was recovering quicker from my long runs and was feeling more recovered in my day in, day out mileage. I placed an order after trying the initial sample month and have been using it since, with the exception of the two weeks since Haliburton.

    There aren’t many, well actually any, supplements that I would recommend from a health food store, but I would definitely say that I definitely noticed a benefit from using Optygen.

    The only other First Endurance products that I have tried have been the EFS drink and EFS bar, and have liked both as well. I have heard a lot of good things about the EFS gel too.

    I actually just placed another order directly through the First Endurance website at www.firstendurance.com . I’m not sure in Canada where you can get it, but last I checked it was quite expensive. www.TriandRunSports.com in Trenton sells some First Endurance stuff too I think, but not sure what. Last time I was there they just had the gels.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  9. Good to know about the compression sock thing. Very interesting.
    Lately, I have not been very disciplined in recovering...