Sport: Marathon Recovery, in: Run Today (September) 2002.
Subject: September Run Today: Marathon Recovery
For whomever this might pertain to...
>A Critical Part of Training
> If there's a marathon in your near future (say, the next two months
>or so) you probably have been following a strict training program for the
>last several months. You've faithfully done your long runs, tempo runs, and
>faster-paced interval workouts. You've included more carbohydrates in your
>diet, you've been going to bed at a reasonable hour almost every night, and
>you have a few shorter races planned before the main event so you'll be
>sharp and "race ready." But have you thought about what you're going to do
>in the minutes, hours, and days following the marathon? Does your schedule
>include marathon recovery? If not, you need to start planning for it now!
> Why Recovery is Important
> No matter how fit you are, or how fast or slow you run, a marathon
>is a physically demanding event that can have physiological and
>psychological effects that may last for many days, even weeks. Those
>effects include: Fatigue (and accompanying muscle soreness). Make no
>mistake, you're going to be tired once you've finished running! And you may
>be surprised-not only will your legs and hips feel tired, but so will your
>upper body, particularly your arms and shoulders. In fact, most of the
>muscles in your body are going to feel tired. Tired, and eventually sore.
>The soreness happens when blood starts to do its job and begins to flood
>those poor muscle tissues. The blood flow repairs the tiny tears in the
>muscle tissue and flushes out lactic acid, which is good, but the downside
>is that all the blood flowing into the tissues causes soreness. You may
>feel even more soreness a day or two after the marathon than in the first
>few hours following. Depletion. During the marathon your body uses up
>most of its glycogen stores. Glycogen is glucose or sugar, which converts
>to carbohydrates in your muscles. Once those stores are used up, you will
>start to slow down, eventually you may even "hit the wall." Glycogen
>depletion not only affects how you feel physically, but it can also cause
>you to become confused and unable to think clearly. Dehydration (and in
>rare cases hyponatremia, or water intoxication, the opposite of
>dehydration). Running for 3, 4, 5 or 6 hours causes dehydration-no matter
>how much fluid you drink prior to and during the marathon. The extent of
>the dehydration depends on several factors: your fitness level; your body
>size; weather conditions; and your finishing time. Some researchers now
>believe that finishing time may be a factor in causing hyponatremia.
>Runner's suffering from this condition have literally flushed the essential
>salts and minerals necessary to maintain normal bodily functions out of
>their bloodstream. Scientists believe that runners who take longer than
>four hours to run the marathon, start the marathon hydrated with only large
>amounts of water, and stop to drink copious amounts of water at aid
>stations along the way, are most at risk. Balancing fluids in the body can
>be a tricky proposition, even the best runners in the world occasionally
>have problems. Hydration is serious, not only yor performance but also your
>overall health and wellbeing can be affected if you don't get it right.
> Doing What Doesn't Come Naturally!
> In the minutes and few hours following your marathon you'll probably
>feel like doing the following-DON'T! Sitting or laying down
> Taking a hot bath Drinking only water Avoiding food because you
>don't feel hungry Move…Move…Move!
> Although you might be tempted to sit or even lay down as soon as you
>can find an empty patch of grass, avoid the temptation. All those muscles
>that have been working so hard the past 26.2 miles will tighten up to such
>an extent that you may have difficulty getting back up again. You're not
>doing your body any favors by forcing it into the inactivity mode when it
>has been moving for such a long time. WALK AROUND instead. You don't need
>to run anymore or even jog, but do something to keep your muscles working.
>Try to avoid standing, the blood will pool in your lower legs and cause
>even more soreness. If you absolutely, positively feel that you have to lie
>down, put your legs up against a wall, the side of your car, someone's
>back-anywhere where your feet will be above your hips.
> Save those Bath Salts for Later!
> Although a long, hot, soaking bath will sound quite tempting-don't give
>it another thought (at least not for the next few days.) Although the warm
>water may feel great while you're sitting in it, once you get out you'll
>discover that your muscles will be even more inflamed and painful. Ice
>decreases swelling, pain, and inflammation-in the 24 to 48 hours after a
>marathon ice will make you feel better-heat won't! If you can stand it, as
>soon as possible after you've finished running soak your legs for 10 to 15
>minutes in an ice bath. Can't stand the thought? Then use ice bags on the
>sorest areas-10 to 20 minutes at a time two or three times a day during the
>24 to 48 hours after the race.
> Water Alone Isn't Enough
> Although you may feel like drinking only water, you need to ingest a
>fluid that contains much-needed salts and minerals. If you don't like the
>taste of the fluid replacement drink the race is providing, use one you
>like and keep it in a cooler that you'll be able to get to soon after the
>race has ended. In the interim, drink water "chased" with a sports drink or
>fruit juice. You may discover that you don't even feel thirsty, but drink
>anyway. Even if you don't think you're thirsty, the fluid levels in your
>body are off-kilter. Drink fluids until your urine is clear, not dark
>yellow. It's also a good idea to weigh yourself before the marathon, then
>weigh yourself afterwards. When you weigh what you weighed before the
>marathon, you'll know that you've probably restored enough lost fluids.
> Eat Your Carbs!
> Many people find that they don't want to eat anything immediately
>following a marathon. It's not unusual to feel slightly nauseated, some
>runners may even feel like they're going to vomit. This is not unusual,
>simply put: your body isn't focused on your digestive system while you're
>running a marathon, all the focus is directed toward your musculo-skeletal
>and respiratory systems, so it isn't surprising that the last thing your
>stomach wants is to be filled! But in reality that's exactly what it needs.
>The first few hours after you've finished running is the best time to
>replace the depleted glycogen and glucose in your blood and muscles. If you
>don't feel that you can eat "regular" food immediately, have a carbohydrate
>replacement drink (or two.) Once you're able to eat normally again go for:
> Soup or stew (during the 60s, 70s and even into the 80s many races
>in the Northeast, including the Boston Marathon, used to serve stew or
>chowder in the finish line area) Salty foods like pretzels, pop corn or
>corn chips Fresh and/or dried fruit, particularly bananas, oranges,
>raisins, and apricots Yogurt (make sure it's the sweetened kind so
>you'll get even more carbohydrates) Cereal (sweetened again) Granola
>bars Sports bars Bagels What if your body craves something
>else? (I've craved a hamburger after nearly half of the 64 marathons I've
>run!) When your body talks to you-listen. If it's a hamburger you want,
>then have one. Just make sure that during the first 30 to 60 minutes
>following the marathon you replace lost carbohydrates. Save the burger,
>fries and a shake until later that day!
> . . .what Else?
> You'll further speed up your recovery if you: Get out of your
>wet clothes as soon as possible, so you'll warm up. Stretch gently.
>Don't over-stretch your muscles, and definitely don't do any "bouncing."
>Focus on the muscles in your lower back, hips, buttocks, quadriceps, and
>hamstrings. Get some kind of exercise later in the day: either walking,
>biking swimming, or even dancing. Seven Days…Seven Ways to Recovery
> Now that you've made it through the first day, you've got another week
>in front of you. What you do during those seven critical days will make a
>big difference in how quickly you recover, and how soon you'll be planning
>your next marathon! DON'T THINK ABOUT YOUR NEXT MARATHON! Give your
>body (and mind) time to recover before you start thinking about your next
>marathon. Get a massage. Make sure your massage therapist is skilled in
>sports massage and/or neuro-muscular massage and therapy. Let them know
>that you've recently run a marathon. Eat a lot and sleep a lot. Don't
>worry about gaining a few pounds, now's the time to replenish your body.
>Your body is healing itself while you sleep, so try to get at least 8 hours
>of sleep every night, more if you can. Take warm baths. If your muscles
>are still sore use ice first, then take the bath. Don't use water that's
>too hot, use bath salts in warm water instead. Stretch regularly. Make
>sure that you stretch once your muscles are warmed-up: after you've taken a
>walk or a warm bath, for instance. Hold each stretch for at least 20
>seconds. Stretch everyday, even twice a day. Do low-intensity
>exercises. Focus on exercise that won't stress your muscles, like walking,
>swimming (if you're a fairly good swimmer), running in water, rowing, or
>biking. DON'T RUN…DON'T EVEN JOG! Elevate your legs whenever possible.
>When you're watching TV, lie on the floor with a pillow supporting your
>lower back and your legs against a wall. Let your co-workers know that
>they're apt to find you with your legs on your desk occasionally during the
>day-you're a marathoner-they'll understand! One Month and Beyond
> Under most circumstances after a week's hiatus from running following a
>marathon, you should be able to begin a limited running schedule during
>week two. (If you sustained an injury during the race, or forced yourself
>to continue even though you were having a "bad day", you may need to take
>more time off.) Limit your training to no more than four days a
>week for the next month Don't run longer than one hour-limit your
>training time to 15-40 minute easy runs Don't do speedwork or any type
>of hard training for a month Don't race for a month Maintain a slow
>pace on your training runs (a minute slower than your long run pace is
>ideal) Avoid strength training for a month When you start back to
>your regular training schedule, do it gradually. If you were running six
>days a week before the marathon, don't run six days a week in week five.
>And if your longest run was 90 minutes, don't do a 90-minute long run
>during that week either. Remember what you did when you first started
>training-gradually build-up your mileage and the number of days you run.
>And don't forget to back everything back down every other week or so.
> It's a Mental Thing!
> The marathon is very much a mental race; in fact, some people even say
>that it's 90% mental, and 10% physical. Whether that's true or not is a
>subject for psychologists and exercise physiologists to debate, but
>remember these truisms about the marathon: Like any major life
>experience, the marathon can have profound affects (both positive and
>negative) on your perceptions of yourself, and your general outlook on life
> Finishing a marathon is an emotional experience-don't be afraid to let
>out all the emotions you're feeling. They will range from the highest highs
>to the lowest lows-you're not alone, everyone who has ever run a marathon
>has felt some of the same things There's always another marathon! If
>this one didn't work out like you had planned-stay tuned for the next one!
>Like life, running marathons is an on-going process of learning, coping,
>feeling, working, and dealing with a wide range of physical and
>psychological changes. Congratulations! You're a marathoner.