The Aftermath… (Recovery)
It’s been 9 days since I ran Lake Sonoma, and it feels like it was at least a month ago. Time does NOT fly when you’re taking time off and recovering. Well, not for me anyway.
After a big race, or the “A Race”, it’s smart to take some time off. I won’t get into details about why, but if you’re up for some extra reading, there are some links on the bottom of this post explaining the science behind recovery and rest. After my first marathon in 2008, I took a few months of hard training off, did loads of yoga, and ran only occasionally. Over time, my recovery time after 26.2 has shortened with each race. But, after putting my body through 50 miles, I wanted to make sure to not hurry through the process.
I write a LOT about the mental/emotional aspect of running, and what a lot of people don’t want to talk about is the “blues” that come along with recovery. I’ve had friends who’ve battled post-race depression and I’ve definitely gone stir crazy while resting before. A few days without running for someone who is used to 60,70, 80 miles in a week feels like being a prisoner. A lot of runners deal by immediately signing up for their next race, others keep running, some cross train. I obsess.
Determined to spend a week doing nothing, I made LOTS of plans. Watched the Boston Marathon, went to the Giant’s game, dinner with friends, played with my dog, wore compression socks everywhere they are socially acceptable, and finished some projects that have been looming over my head. But I couldn’t stop wondering- when do I get to run again? On Tuesday, the cool kids over at Strava interviewed me for their blog. The biggest question: What’s next?
It’s so easy to jump right back into training and plan for the next race, but I’ve also learned in the past that it can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. Racing puts a lot of wear and tear on the body, sometimes in places you don’t even realize until a nagging pain turns into an injury. Recovering takes time. But mentally, it’s tough to swallow that I have to step back a bit.
Do I know what I want next? Absolutely. I want to spend my weekends in the headlands, running as far as my legs will take me and not drag myself home until I’m muddy and tired. I want to sign up for a ton of races on my “bucket list”. I want to run up Diablo, check out Rock Springs, run the whole Dipsea Trail... I want to be back in my happy place I found during training.
As for a big “A Race” goal? I’m not sure. I know Lake Sonoma won’t be my one and only 50-mile race. Someday there are probably even crazier adventures in my future (don’t tell my mom, she’s already considering locking me up…). But what I really want is to feel 100% recovered and be able to explore the Bay Area as much as possible on foot.
So, I’m slowly running again, but there’s no rush. As much as it drives me crazy to cut back a little bit, it’s only temporary. The trails aren’t going anywhere, and neither am I. If you’re anything like me, try to remind yourself that recovery is just a side effect of this sport we love, and that it does make us stronger. “What’s next” isn’t really so far away.
Articles, as promised: