Indeed, a well earned rest can do wonders for you, especially following a tough run or hard racing. Yesterday saw one of the UK’s toughest half marathons take place from the centre of Sheffield, the Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon and the key for every runner is getting the rest and recovery right from giving their bodies a right pounding. For those that competed a massive well done, it was a tough event!
Achy legs are one thing, energy levels another and what about the most important muscle in your body? It all takes time to recover, repair and replenish the body, so give it a chance. Those achy limbs are a sign of muscle damage, that lethargic feeling associated too, with poor energy and fluid levels. Returning to full time and hard training too soon can result in over-training and poor performance, then there is the increased risk of illness from a battered immune system and of course niggles that become persistent injuries.
It is not just that you are recovering from the race, you are also recovering from a period of tough training – even those long slow Sunday runs count as hard! So now is time to take stock and recover well. Yet, you should keep moving to ease those stiff sore muscles. Sitting around only compounds the issue.
If you are especially sore today then light exercise can be a good thing – go for a walk, an easy cycle or perhaps a swim. 20 – 30 minutes should do it. Try some dynamic stretching and movement to get things, well moving. Tomorrow (Tuesday) for many will be the worse day and this is the day I usually reserve for an easy walk or run, plus a very early nights kip – oh yes I will eat well too. By Wednesday I am back running for a very easy jog around the local park, just 20 minutes or so. This I keep going until after a massage on Thursday or Friday. By the middle of the second week I am just about back onto my normal duration of running but without any real effort – all slow easy running. By the end of the week I run a session with a few strides to just to start loosening things off ready for a return to my normal training on the third week. My next race well that will be around 4 – 6 weeks away, including Park Runs.
Yes, nutrition will also play its part. I eat well with plenty of protein from mixed sources coupled with lots of fresh fruit and veg – especially, for me, baked potatoes covered in cheese! Eat light and often is good advice and many find helpful to their recovery. Plenty of fluids help with recovery, avoiding the sweet carbonated type of drinks.
The trick with ensuring you gain from racing is all in the recovery and this for a half marathon can take a good couple of weeks. Over do it and you could just wreck your whole racing year. Your physio will become your best friend though…