You can feel it. The days are getting shorter, mornings colder and road races are getting longer. Winter is around the corner and marathon season has kicked off in ernest. What does this mean for you?
A few runners have already dipped into the ice cold bath that is the fabled marathon ‘reality check.’ What have we learnt? I haven’t done as many long runs as they should have, there’s no substitute for hard work, and that hamstring that was tight six months ago has now tightened after racing on it yet again.
If you were the person who crossed the finish line in Los Angeles, Paris, Canberra, Boston or London only to tell yourself “never again,” the aforementioned reasons might be to blame. I’ve mooted before, the John Landy’s famous words “the mind sells the body,” so when the entry opens for the City2Surf later in the year and your mind says “yes” but you haven’t done a long run in three months and your hamstring hasn’t felt a massage either. Will you hobble to your computer to fill out the online entry and say “ah I’m still kinda fit?”
The endless cycle of racing unprepared and then enduring the physical and mental stresses of pain, injury and fatigue is as common in these parts as people who say they prefer soda water compared to tap water. It’s the same thing!
What we can learn from our counterparts in the AFL and NRL is that recovery is just as important as the event. Those boys know that they have 6-7 days to be ready for the next battle. Their recovery starts the second they walk off the field after the match.
We are the same. The second you cross the line from one race, the preparation begins for the next. AFL players effectively work split shifts on game day. Preparing for and playing the game, this takes place at the ground. While the recovery part of the day starts at the ground and continues back at the club rooms. Depending on injuries and soreness players can spend up to 4 hours recovering post-game. This is followed by a recovery session at pool the following morning.
What I’m preaching at this early stage of the season: don’t let your first race be the only race of the year. The phenomenon of ‘Runner’s High’ will hit you after you race and you will want to get back out and race again asap. There is the requirement however to take the recovery phase of your program seriously. It starts straight after the first race.
If you get the recovery right, the body will be able to answer the mind’s calls to get out and start a new campaign for the next race.
Post – race plan:
Cool down – go for a short jog after the race, about 20 minutes. If you can’t run then do a 20 minute walk.
Rehydrate – drink plenty of fluids. Water and sports drinks are good.
1 – 2 hours after…
Eat – I like to eat some salty food after a race. The salt helps to retain fluid in the body and I find that after eating energy food, gels and bananas that some thing nice and salty really hits the spot.
Race Horse Sea Walks – Same as you see on TV. Stand in the ocean, up to the waist and let the water chill your legs. It’s good to do this for 20 minutes, then walk 20 mins, repeat.
Ease back into training – If you raced on sunday, you can be back in light training by wednesday.
End of week…
Massage – I like to wait a week for the tenderness to leave then hit the table for a good deep tissue job.