I’ve never been a big fan of recovery and tend to avoid it like the plague. When I say recovery, I mean rest, stretching, and taking care of my body after exercise. I know this sounds horrible and you’re probably shaking your head at me in disapproval right now, and I know, it’s bad.
When I started planning for #RUN70 I knew that recovery would be a very important part of the process and needed to pay close attention to it in order to succeed. After announcing the challenge to the world, my runner friends chimed in and offered some tips to help with my recovery – some I tried, some I passed on. One hard pass was the ice bath suggestion – I friggen hate the cold. The one that stuck with me the most and I used religiously throughout the challenge was the foam roller. I would marry that thing if I could.
The first few weeks I was laser focused on recovery to lessen the physical blows to my body of running 21.1k per day. I experimented with several techniques – one of the more hilarious and expensive techniques was Ubering everywhere I went so I didn’t have to walk to my destinations and risk “injuring” myself the next day.
After trial and error, these are the recover techniques I used that helped the most in completing the challenge. These have not only helped me run 21.k everyday for 74 days, but also run a marathon then run a 10k the next day without a rest. Probably not good on the body, but I did feel strong enough to continue. Here’s the list:
Okay, I’ll admit – I didn’t spend as much time on this as I probably should have. After my runs I would force myself to stretch for about 5 minutes. Holding each stretch 15-30 seconds then repeating 2-3 times. There were a few days I didn’t stretch and man did I regret it the next day. One thing I did do on days I was feeling sore was stopping to stretch mid-run. This was especially important for me in the first few weeks of the challenge when my body was trying to adjust to the new daily distance. Taking the time to stretch for endurance or any athletes is really a no-brainer.
- Foam Roller
Every runner should have one of these. Period. The foam roller was recommended to me by a friend I met running this year’s Boston Marathon. Robert is a really great endurance runner and I trust his recommendations so decided to go buy one near the beginning of the challenge. I think I bought mine for like $30 on Amazon, but you can get them pretty much anywhere. Rolling out sore muscles helped reduced the tightness and was probably the best for of self-manual therapy I could find. The sweet spots for me were behind the knees, behind and behind my ankles up towards the lower part of my calf. The impact of the roller was instrumental in helping me complete #RUN70.
- Icing sore muscles
After guzzling two jugs of water, the second thing I did when I returned from my runs, was grabbing a good ol’ ice pack and flopping down on the couch to ice my limbs. The first body part to be iced was my knees, then my calves, then shins and finally, my quads (sometimes). I iced for about 10-15 minutes and felt instant relief.
I think I felt sore in more muscles I even knew existed in my body. After spending over $800 on shoes and a new running watch, I was on a budget. So I relied on my wonderful girlfriend to massage my feet and legs on an almost daily basis. God bless that woman. The areas on my body that were the sorest were my calves and lateral part of my feet. The massages did a number on reducing muscle tension and helping me relax. Plus it felt amazing.
- Walk as little as possible
When I was in Portland in July I walked a lot and I mean a lot. One day I walked almost 15km on top of running 21.1k that same day. And believe me, the next day I suffered. My secret strategy was to walk as little as possible. If a friend asked me to hangout on the other side of town I would either drive or Uber over. Even if a friend lived 10 minutes away I tried to convince them to come to me so I could give my legs the longest rest possible. This might have been counter-intuitive and some research says that you should walk after a run, but for me, minimizing the amount of walking I did post-run did wonders for me.
These may seem basic, but I tend to neglect the recovery process at times and both the short term and long term effects can be damaging. I’d spend at least 30-45 minutes on recovery after each run so I could prime my body for running another half marathon the next day. My running shoes played a big part in this as well. I went through 3 pairs of runners during the challenge and made sure to switch them as soon as I had run about 400-500km. I somehow managed to completely avoid injury during the 74 days using the techniques listed above. What recovery techniques do you use that work the best?