Monday, January 30, 2012

Active Recovery

Last week was a recovery week from Sunday's marathon, but that did not mean sitting on my ass everyday. Many people take weeks off after running a marathon, and that is fine if you need a mental break or aren't in a hurry to get back to your running routine. However, if you enjoy running on a regular basis, not just to train for a race, and want to get back to it in a hurry, the worse thing to do is sit around. Your muscles will continue to tighten, prolonging the soreness, and recovery will take longer.

The best thing to do, specially if you have another race coming up, is to move. You do not have to move fast, nor do you have to go far, but you need to begin to loosen up those muscles gently. Start with lots of walking at an easy pace the day after your race, transitioning to brisk walks and then to a slow run with lots of walking mixed in as soon as 2 days after your race. I know that seems really soon, but you won't be running fast at all - your walking may actually be faster. Just get your body used to the motion, for a few minutes at a time and about 2-3 miles total. This should be done at training pace or slower, so 2-3 minutes slower than you ran at your race.  I also likes to mix in lots of yoga after each walk/run and when I wake up to help stretch and loosen the sore muscles.

In addition to daily yoga of at least 20 minutes, below is how my active recovery week looked. By Wednesday, most of the soreness from the marathon was gone.

  • Monday (day after race) 
    • walked 4 miles at 21+ pace 
    • this was 2 separate walks, 3 miles in the morning + 1 mile in the evening
  • Tuesday 
    • walked 4.5 miles total throughout the day: warm up, cool down, bus, public
    • ran 2.5 miles @ 13:48 pace with 1:1 intervals. I usually warm up with a slow run, but I walked as a warm up and cool down instead to really ease into it. 
  • Wednesday - walked 2.75 miles (bus)
  • Thursday 
    • walked 3.5 miles
    • ran 3.5 miles @ 13:30 pace with 1:1 intervals. Again, I walked for my warm up & cool down.
  • Friday - walked 2 miles
  • Saturday - ran 10 miles @ 12:30 pace
  • Sunday - biked 20 miles @ 10.4 mph

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