With less than 10 weeks to go till the MM, we are at about the half way point of our training program and on the cusp of some bigger mileage as our long runs approach and go beyond 30kms. This is the time to start to think more seriously about recovery as our running load reaches it's peak over the next 6 weeks.
Having just completed a 28 km run on the weekend, I was reminded of what it feels like when you're running a long way. Once we hit 30kms and beyond you start to get a bit excited about really Long Runs. For many this will be the longest runs that they have ever undertaken, which is an exciting and perhaps nervous time.
With the longest of Long Runs, also comes an increase in length of Tempo and Interval work, resulting in much bigger cumulative loads as our weekly mileage peaks at beyond 70kms or more per week. Some of you will run further than you have ever before, and further in the next 6 weeks than you've run in the previous 12 weeks!
As runners we are in a constant state of destruction and adaptation, as we stress our bodies with harder, and longer runs, in order to achieve physiological adaptation to become fitter, stronger & faster runners. The key ingredient to facilitate this is recovery. If your recovery is not adequate, you will break down, and get injured. Simple.
Here's a few very important and effective tips to ensure your recovery is sufficient to get you through your long runs, and long weeks of running to ensure you arrive at the start line in good shape.
1. Ice baths : I try to finish all of my Long Runs beyond 2 hours bayside, so that i can have a good soak in the very cool waters of the Bay. I believe 15 minutes of slow walking in it up to your waist is perfect. Failing that, sit in a cold water bath for 15 minutes, and just add ice.
Why? Immersing yourself in cold water helps to take the excess heat out of the stressed and damaged muscles, thus reducing and controlling the inflammatory process and getting you to your recovery state quicker.
Along with many other athletes of all sports, I've been doing this for years and it works. You will feel much different the next day for your recovery run. After the bath or bay, go and prepare your meal & wait another 45 minutes keeping your legs cool before having your hot shower.
2. Post Long Run Re-Fuel ; Your Long run will leave your glycogen stores depleted so you need to replenish these as quickly as possible. Consume protein with carbs in the first half hour after your run, when it is most easily absorbed. The best way to do this is in the form of a shake. I prefer Endura Maximiser which gives me the right mix of carbs & protein. Follow that over the next 90 mins with a good meal of quality carbs and protein. Your ideal protein: carb ratio is 1:4, meaning if you weigh 73kgs (160 pounds) you need 160g carbs to 40 g protein.Ingest 50% of this in the first half hour ( shake), then the other 50% over the next 90 minutes as a meal.
My favourite - my own muesli mix, yoghurt, fruit, seeds & nuts. Poached eggs on toast, with avocado and bacon. Or if I'm feeling decadent, which I am mostly then it will be more like french toast or pancakes, bacon & maple syrup. Another favourite well worth a try is Sofie's 'Naked Seeds' healthy pancakes,
3. Re-hydrate : Keep drinking plenty of water throughout the day, or a light mix of Endura powder to keep re-hydrating and topping up the glycogen.
4. Roll, stretch, Roll : You don't need to do this for long, but do it regularly & often. Great at the end of the day.
5. Compression : Whether tights or compression sleeves, these assist the transfer of fluids ( toxins, lactic, blood) out of the muscles by maintaining a firm pressure gradient on the muscle cells. This I believe helps your recovery post run & overnight.
5. Sleep : Your body heals & recovers at rest, and in particular when sleeping. Get plenty of good quality sleep during this heavy running time.
7. Recovery runs : A very low intensity short run performed on the next day will assist recovery and aid physiologic adaptation > gets you fitter & stronger. Steve Moneghetti would call these 'absorption' runs as it is during these runs that your body will benefit from the longer, harder runs done previously. This promotes movement & blood flow into the healing muscles to increase vascularisation and mitochondrial growth - essential for endurance running.
8. Massage : achieves a similar effect to recovery run, just easier, however probably more painful. Essential for recovery, improves blood flow, and relieves congestion & tightness in muscles that you are unaware of. Start booking in regular massage from here till race day to keep you running well.
9. Get off the grog! : Even that innocent glass of wine with dinner through the week will have an impact on your recovering body during these weeks of high mileage running. Take a dry month to 6 weeks into your marathon race for optimal performance.