When to Start After the Finish

You’ve done it. You’ve finished your race. You reached the finish line.

Congratulations!

Like water in a desert, this probably seemed like a mirage at first. But NO! You did it!

Like water in a desert, this probably seemed like a mirage at first. But NO! You did it!

One of the hardest things for runners to do after 12-16 weeks of training and then completing their goal race is to rest. It sounds crazy to non-runners.

“Ummmm, aren’t you tired?”

Indeed we are, but we’re also used to spending 60+ minutes a day and 2+ hours on the weekend performing physical activity. It gets addicting. It feels good.

We miss it.

But here’s the thing: YOU NEED REST.

I need every pillow in our apartment to sleep. What? That's normal.

I need every pillow in our apartment to sleep. What? That’s normal.

You’ve just pushed the limits of your body in all capacities. Whether you like it or not, no matter how well-trained you are, your body is damaged. Not in a permanent, destructive way, but damaged all the same.

Muscles have microtears, including your heart, for several hours and days after such an endurance event. You’ll recover if you give yourself TIME to recover. Here’s a guide to knowing when you can go ahead and get back to normal workouts:

  • Before your event, take your heart rate in the morning, before getting out of bed, and collect that data for a week. After your race, monitor your morning heart rate. When it’s back to normal, the majority of your superficial healing is complete.
  • Wait until you are no longer sore. Duh.
  • Give yourself at least a week of nothing more than easy walking to get back to normal daily movement.
  • Don’t go back into weight training or plyos for at least two weeks. Trust me.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Eat a mix of carbs, protein, fruits, & veggies to make sure you’re getting all your essential nutrients. You will be more hungry, don’t fight it.
Cupcakes are a recovery food.

Cupcakes are a recovery food.

I recommend taking a full week off of exercise. All exercise. Yoga, spinning, elliptical, CrossFit, all of it.

Return to light, easy, non-Garmin running after that. It is my professional recommendation that you not return to any type of training for at least a month to fully recover and then assess if you have any residual issues from your race.

Weight training can resume after about two weeks, or depending on how your body is feeling in response to light, body weight exercises.

Rule of thumb: if you’re tired, take it easy. Cycling through racing seasons is the smart way to be a runner for life, not just for now. Enjoy the down season!

How long do you usually wait before you ramp up again? Do you enjoy the down season? Tell me your favorite down season non-running workout!

Now go out and run!

 

 

Marathon Season Winds Down

First things first. Happy birthday, Obi-wan! You’re the best Jedi Master we could ask for. Thank you for sharing The Force with us. I love you.

Second, congratulations to all of the 2011 ING NYC Marathon finishers! I saw approximately all of you yesterday (I was at the cheer station until the sweep vehicle came by and the streets re-opened) and you were a beautiful mass of sweaty runners that inspired all of us in the crowd with every step you took. Well done.

I think we were all a little scared when the snow swept in last weekend and decimated our beloved trees.

Oh no! Our poor trees!

Thankfully, it was GORGEOUS outside and the sun shone on all of the marathoners all day long. They even worked night and day to got the park cleared up by Marathon Sunday for the tourists to admire our beautiful fall foliage without fear of a giant branch falling on their heads. Well done, Parks Department.

Cheering was awesome. We were up on 1st Avenue early enough to see the elites.

One of the 4 signs I made. I'm a cheerleader overachiever.

The women’s race was a nail-biter with Firehiwot Dado pulling out the win in the last 300 yards. The men’s race was equally exciting with Geoffrey Mutai setting a course record, beating his own personal best in Chicago. Meb ran his personal best, better than his own win two years ago, which earned him sixth this year. Jen Rhines dropped out of the race and the first women runners from the USA to finish were two newbies to the marathon world, Molly Pritz and Lauren Fleshman. All in all, a very exciting marathon to watch.

The elite men go zooming by us.

It’s great to watch the elites, but the warriors in the pack are the ones I come to see.

         

After the 4 hour marathoners pass, things get fun out there. People are trudging through those hard miles, yes, but I think they are also the ones having the most fun out there. Especially at mile 22 where our lululemon athletica cheer station was, complete with a DJ and awesome signs. We danced until the sun went down on 5th Avenue.

Yes, our signs say: "You're the sh*t" because you totally are.

So, for those of you who are done with marathon-ing this season, congratulations and get some rest. I suggest that if you crossed this:

Thank you, New York!

…or another finish line, you take several days of active rest and stretching before you think about getting all geared up for another race. I suggest two days of walking or swimming or gentle cycling followed by deep stretching and *hopefully* a massage or a good foam roll. Get going with running on the third or fourth day and take it easy. It’s all about the recovery run. Oh, and NSAIDs for muscle soreness is a must. At least, it is for me in the days following a marathon. Advil is my friend. And food. And water. You know, the basics.

Post-marathon depression might be something you experience, especially if you don’t have another race on the docket. Think about picking up a half or a 15K in the next two months or so to get yourself going again relatively soon. There’s nothing worse than loving every moment of your marathon training only to find yourself without any direction immediately after crossing the finish line. Find a fun run in December or January and really make it FUN.

For those of you (LIKE ME!) who are tapering for Philly, hang in there. We’ll be seeing signs like this one soon enough…

Two weeks away. Oy.

…but we gotta survive the taper first.

Again, congratulations to all who finished, especially my friends who rocked. You guys inspire me.

Now go out and run!