Monday, February 28, 2011

Legs go boom, or how I learned about long run recovery.

I conked out this morning, about four kilometres into my run, wahhhhhh! The stiffness left over from Sunday's long run made itself known and basically went from stiffness to discomfort to serious discomfort. WWJD? Although in this case, the J stood for Jeff Galloway, and so the answer was to quit while I was ahead (and vertical) and walk home.
Once upon a time this 'failure' would have reduced me to tears, but as this HM experience is all about learning, I chose to see it as an opportunity to learn more about the art and science of running long (and yessss, to me 8k is long, nyahhhhh).
So today I've spent some time reading up on long run recovery, learning about what to do, what not to do, and what I may be doing wrong.
1. Hydration/nutrition
Even though I'm only just reaching the point where I'm out for over an hour, as an early morning runner my fluid levels are not at their peak. To combat this I plan to drink extra water the day before my long run, and pre-mix some sports drink to either take with me or slurp on beforehand, as well as topping off with more sports drink and extra water upon returning home. As my runs get longer I may experiment with gels, not sure I'm ready for that yet though. I think I'm getting a little dehydrated after my runs, and also possibly running out of blood sugar a bit, so I'm hoping some experimentation here will help.

2. Leg love
I also plan to work some serious love for my legs (and extra love for those hard workin' knees) into my post long run routine in the hope of faster recovery. I've read about a few great ideas to try, everything from the super scary ice bath (or it's gentler cousin, the cold water bath), to ice massage, regular massage, extra stretching, and laying down with your legs up vertical against the wall for five minutes to let the blood drain (which is supposed to reduce inflammation).

3. Chill time
While my flopping on the couch post run reaction is normal, it's not that helpful. I need to keep walking around for awhile after my run, and then, rather than curling up on the too-short couch all day, actually head off into bed if needed. If I can get my feet higher than my head, even better!

4. The old faithfuls
Deep heat, anti inflammatories (although I'm unsure that this is wise), epsom salts in the bath, heat pack......

I'm hoping this will be enough to give me some strategies to try, as it's worrying that I am this sore after only 8 kilometres, when I have so many more to go. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to build some pleasant and fun post-run rituals that will persist for years to come.

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