Almost all marathon runners are in full-blown recovery mode at this time of year. There are a few big races left this fall before we all should be collectively putting our feet up as we plot and plan for spring races. Recovery is an overlooked and undervalued part of marathon training. If this season of downtime isnít taken seriously, many runners will be spending the spring season at a physical therapistís office, instead of crossing a finish line.
While recovery takes more than a week, that first week after a marathon is possibly one of the most crucial time frames for an athlete. The damage done by running a marathon is extensive and must be respected. Nearly every system of the body takes a beating during a 26.2 mile race. The skeletal, the muscular, cellular and immune systems will all be compromised after a marathon, and they must be babied in order to get back in working condition. When athletes ignore recovery, injuries and illness follow.
Generally, most runners are encouraged to take at least an entire week off. For most this means no running, but experts are all saying it should just mean, “No exercising, at all.” This is hard for marathoners. However, not only does it let the deep muscular damage start to heal, it lets the mind recover too.
During this period of time itís great to stretch, catch up on sleep and eat. It should be a time of celebration and relaxation. While eating and drinking is fun, itís also a crucial part of the process. Runners need to restore electrolytes and start healing muscles with protein. Extra indulgences that werenít allowed during training can be taken after the race too. Iíve had a nutritionist tell me to specifically go eat some fried food. She knew I needed the fat to aid in muscle recovery and she knew my mind needed permission to cut loose after all those weeks of strict discipline.
A week of total downtime and then several weeks of easing back into running wonít cost a runner their fitness. In fact, if their goal is to be extremely fit, like an elite, they should take a cue from some of the elites. Olympian Desiree Davila took two full weeks off after finishing her second Olympic Trials Marathon. Additionally, Olympian Meb Keflezighi was forced to take three full weeks off leading up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. That rest time got him a new personal best, a first place finish, and a ticket to the London Olympics. These athletes know how to respect recovery.
Respect your recovery and enjoy it too. Itís part of your victory lap, but itís also part of your training for the next race. Eat, drink, be merry and prepare for your best season yet.
by Lacy Hansen from DietsInReview.com