Post Race Recovery.

To my old and new friends, who will be embarking on the Enigma Running Week at the Knees tomorrow (7 marathons in 7 days) – good luck, and race well!

For more information on Enigma events, visit www.enigmarunning.co.uk.

There are many people out there who are entering into running half or full marathons.  They invest in a decent pair of running trainers, maybe take time to get their gait analysed to minimise the possibility of injury.  They might take the time to download a training plan, or ask for help from others who have run the distance before as they look to get started.

Then, they put the time and effort in to prepare their bodies for the rigours of completing the challenge that they have set themselves.  They train, they put the mileage in. Early morning runs, after work training, building up and working toward race day.

They check their dietary requirements – many people find that they don’t drink as much alcohol, or have as many nights out as in the past, as they want to achieve their goal.  For many, fundraising for charity may play a big part in motivating them – and no-one wants to fall at the last hurdle!

The day arrives and runners crawl out of bed, nervous and excited for what lies ahead.  They have breakfast, lace up the trainers, pin on the race number and head to the Start line.  A few hours later, with a smile and a medal, mission completed, many fall into a satisfied glow before overlooking the one area that is just as important as all the effort that has gone before:

Recovering after the race!

There is not as much information out there on post-race recovery as there is about preparing for the race, training for the race and fuelling yourself properly before and during the race.

Personally, I see the post race recovery as being just as important as the effort that I put into training for, and completing the race.  I am at the slower end of the pack, and I will spend more time out on the course than many other people doing the same event.  My muscles will be working longer, where other people’s muscles will work faster.  The effort is different but the recovery still needs to be done – especially if you want to be able to reduce the aches and pains that the muscles will feel the next day.

My recovery starts the minute I finish the race.

Nutritional recovery:

I know that I am not alone here, but I just cannot eat for the first couple of hours post-race.  However, this is the optimal period for nutritional recovery to take place.  Ideally (although the theory appears to be changing), the first 20 minutes after finishing an event is when the body likes to be able to utilise protein effectively, so I always make sure I have some kind of protein recovery shake in my race bag, so that I can be sipping on that as I cool down.

Whether it’s a milk drink (or milk substitute) or a protein shake, I find that easier for my body to stomach (no pun intended) in the immediate aftermath of the finish line.  By sipping it, it’s less likely to cause digestive problems, or make a return visit.

For those who can stomach small amounts of food, then yoghurt, soya desserts, or a handful of nuts and seeds will also be effective in the initial stages.

There is a 90-120 minute window post-race for carbohydrates, but I prefer to make sure that I have a balanced meal when I feel up to eating, rather than forcing myself to eat when I am not ready. Most protein recovery or milk drinks have carbohydrates too, so I’m not neglecting that area anyway.

Eat when you feel ready, but make sure that you do eat something. The body needs to repair itself and it can’t do that when there are no materials to work with.

Hydration recovery:

Fluid intake is also important post-race as dehydration can occur during the event, and if fluids are not replaced, then this too can impinge upon optimal recovery.

Aside from the protein drink, I also have a cherry juice drink, and depending upon requirements, I might stick an electrolyte tablet in there too.  Cherries have been found to have a compound within them that assists in muscle recovery – reducing soreness and joint stiffness.  I’ll have approximately 500ml of that – some people prefer something like Cherry Active, but I have found that supermarkets that have a foreign foods section quite often have a cherry juice available for purchase, so I can just buy it as I require it.

Between race finish and about an hour before bedtime, I will regularly sip on fluids and check my urine colour to ensure that I do not remain dehydrated for longer than necessary.  I don’t gulp down fluids as they cause bloating and discomfort.  Sipping allows the body to rehydrate slowly but surely.

I know many people like to have a celebratory beer post-race, and there was some research done in the UK a few years ago showing that Real Ales were quite effective in aiding recovery (as long as they were not drunk to excess), as the quality of the hops and the brewing process allowed for better carbohydrate within the drink than with lagers and other alcoholic beverages, which just tended to dehydrate the body further.  Thus, enjoy a Real Ale rather than a poor imitation!

Cool down recovery.

It’s amazing how many people ‘stop’ post-race, or complain that they have to keep walking through the funnelling to get their medal/water/foil wrap/baggage once they have finished, but this is designed as such to allow the muscles a chance to cool down and allow the lactic acid to start working its way out of the muscles and be flushed out of the body more efficiently.  If the body stops before it has been given the chance to cool down, then the lactic acid remains in the muscles and this contributes to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Stiffness/Soreness) either the next day or the day after (when it sneaks up on you with little or no warning).

As I am sipping my post-race protein drink, I stay on my feet, slowly moving about.  When I have finished it, I have the first of many gentle stretches.  Only gentle, nothing exceptional as the muscle fibres will already be suffering from the small micro-tears that make them stronger in the long run, so it is only ever extremely gentle, but enough to help me ward off stiffness later on.  I will probably stretch 5 or 6 times between finishing the race and bedtime, for no more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time.

I also change my trainers (I keep a second pair in my race bag) so that my feet have a chance to wear something different – it’s amazing how different your feet feel after a change of footwear!

Hydro recovery.

Basically, this is bath-time.  I’ll have a quick cold or lukewarm shower first before having a warm bath.  The cold shower will allow any areas that might be swelling from exertion (such as feet or ankles for example) to get some cool water on them to help ease any areas that have potential to be problematic, as well as allowing the body to stimulate and remove any post-race toxins as waste products. This doesn’t need to be long at all, a couple of minutes at most.

The warm bath is just to allow the muscles to relax as you get clean.  If in a facility with no bath, a warm shower works just as well.

 

This is what I have been doing for the last 10 years after races, and I have found that the only times that I have had problems are the occasions when I have missed out one or more of the sections above – or left them for too long after the race.

What works for you?  What are your post-race rituals?

Have a great race!

Vixx

Twitter: @KineticL

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle

© 2014 Kinetic Lifestyle.  Part or all of this article may not be reproduced without permission.

Why I Run.

I run because I can.

It doesn’t look pretty but it keeps me fit.

Running lets me see new places.

Running allows me to make new friends.

Running gives me new challenges.

Running sees the best of me and the worst of me.

Running doesn’t care what I look like.

Running doesn’t ask a lot from me.

Running doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Running can be short and sweet.

Running can be as long as you want.

Running lets me take what I need.

Running can be social, or it can be solitary.

Running doesn’t get cross if I’m late or miss a date with it.

Running takes me anywhere I want to go.

 

What does running do for you?

 

Starting to run.

Hello,

My blog today is more of a request for help please.

I am looking into what people wish that they had been told when they first started to run, or exercise generally.

What would have made running easier with a little bit of insider help?

I’m also interested in what made people decide to start running – how did YOU get started?

What made you want to improve?

Did you use any resources – books, magazines, advice from friends?

And finally,

What would you tell someone who was just starting out running or exercising now?

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.  Thank you in advance!

Have a great day!

Vixx :D

2014 Planning.

Where yesterday I spent time reflecting, I have spent today thinking about what I wish to achieve next year.

I look at the big picture first – is there a specific goal or target that I wish to achieve?  Then I look at the components that will make up the steps toward the goal.

The best way to set a goal that will be successful is to break it down into stages that can be achieved en route.  The smaller steps will help prepare you for success on a bigger scale.  They can be adjusted if required, whilst still allowing the main goal to be an achievable target.

With this in mind I look at questions like these:

  • What am I looking to achieve as the bigger picture?
  • What do I need to do to get there?
  • Am I building on something I already know how to do to make it better?
  • Will I be learning something new that will help me?
  • Do I already have skills that can contribute toward the success I want, and if not, where do I look to learn these skills?
  • Is there anyone who I can approach to help me with my goal-setting that might help the goal be achieved quicker?
  • If there is a delay for whatever reason, can I still be doing something toward my bigger goal?

Whether it be a sporting goal, or a target you wish to meet in any other area of your life, by looking at the small steps that can be taken, you can achieve the goals you want to.

There might not appear to be a way through sometimes, but there is always success to be found if you look hard, and want to achieve it badly enough.

What are YOU aiming to achieve in 2014?  How are you going about it?

Have a great day!

Vixx :D

2013 Reflections.

How has your year gone?

Did it live up to expectations?  Could it have gone better?

What were the positives?  Where were the negatives?

I always find myself reflecting at this time of year, Christmas is over, and there’s time to kill before New Year provides a fresh start.

I use today to look at what I achieved this year.  What did I want to achieve at the start, and did I manage to achieve (or even exceed) these goals?

I also look at what I could have done differently, or what I could improve for next time.

My initial goal at the start of the year was to get to 20 marathons completed by the end of the year.  I actually got to 22 marathons completed.  It would have been 25 if not for illness – so I need to ensure that my pre-race meal is suitably digested in future!

I know that what I can do differently is train more efficiently.  I faff around a lot, which always delays me getting out on time.  2014 will be different.

What have you achieved this year?  What could you have done differently?

Today is for reflection, tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) is where I plan ahead.

I will discuss my 2014 goals tomorrow.

Let me know what you would like to achieve in 2014, and how you are going to go about it – leave a comment below :D

Have a great day!

Vixx :D

On The Run – Trans Pennine Trail (Sale Water Park to Chorlton Water Park).

Today I went for a run along the Trans Pennine Trail.  There’s a nice route I like to do from Sale Water Park (just off J6 of the M60).  I do a loop around the park, then I take the path to follow the Trans Pennine Trail and go up to Chorlton Water Park, do a loop around there and then come back.

I decided to have a little detour today alongside Chorlton Brook, which is a lovely and quiet area, not far from Broad Ees Dole.  It’s a nice diversion away from the Trail, which on a Sunday can be quite busy with walkers, runners and cyclists, but it is easy to get back to the Trail and continue onward when you are ready.

This is just one small segment of the Trans Pennine Trail – it runs from coast to coast across Northern England, from Southport on the west coast, to Hornsea on the east coast and going through places such as Liverpool, Warrington, Stockport and the Peak District.  This segment is 207 miles long – and the bit I ran is merely a tiny fraction!

There is also a segment that runs north to south from Leeds to Chesterfield, which is 70 miles, and another little ‘spur’ that runs from Selby to York, which is 15 miles.  It’s a great place to get out, see nature and enjoy the countryside in a relatively car-free manner!

I hope to bring more photos from other segments of this Trail in the future.

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Chorlton Brook.

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Unnamed cobbled road just past Chorlton Brook.

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Trail path leading from Chorlton Brook back toward the Trans Pennine Trail (I’m looking backward at where I have been).

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Part of the River Mersey along the Trail from Sale to Chorlton Water Parks.

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Ahead is the bridge to Jackson’s Boat (a riverside Pub). There is also a Bike Hire Shop if people wish to ride and experience the Trail.

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There has been construction work going on to improve the Metrolink tram system and allow it to run to more parts of Manchester.

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Heading toward Chorlton Water Park.

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This part of the Trail goes on to Didsbury.

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Chorlton Water Park.

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The water covers a large area and there were plenty of people fishing this morning.

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Chorlton Water Park from the other side.

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The River Mersey can run quite quickly.

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View of the trail from the bridge to Jackson’s Boat.

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Running alongside Barrow Brook (which runs off Sale Water Park).

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The path alongside Barrow Brook.

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Sale Water Park – there are often various sailing and water activities going on here.

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Newly rebuilt bridge at Sale Water Park – the Trans Pennine Trail is over by the tall trees.

Have a great day!

Vixx :D

Twitter: @KineticL

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle

Giants Head Marathon – Photos taken from around the route.

I tend not to do race reports as I just make notes for myself – they may appear somewhere one day.  However, I do take plenty of photos as I am going around a route – especially the scenic races.  This race was one such place.

The Giants Head Marathon was held in Sydling St Nicholas, Dorset, UK at the end of June.  The course was designed to be one of the hardest marathons in the UK – but some last minute re-routing due to poorly cows and pregnant cows (not together) made sure that it was one of the hardest Ultramarathons in the United Kingdom instead.  Approximately 6000ft of climb, and predominantly off-road – with temperatures around the late 20C mark – made sure that medals were earned and not just won!

It was a brilliant day, with brilliant scenery. I will be back next year!

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The first hill – it’s so steep everyone is walking.

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Rolling hills as far as you can see.

 

 

 

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Looking back at another hill I’ve climbed!

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It’s not clear but the Giant of the aforementioned Giants Head Marathon is actually etched into that hill above.  It’s also known as the Cerne Abbas Giant and is considered to be an old-fashioned fertility symbol.

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More hills :D  The following three pictures are a left/centre/right view of one field.

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A field of bluebells (above).  Another hill! (below).

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This is where I think 26.2 miles would have been. A sign shortly after stated that there was 1.75 miles back to the Village (and the finish area!).

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And this is what I ended up doing on the Sunday morning! What a fantastic place to do massage! You could say I am an expert in my field ;)

Have a great day!

Vixx :D

Twitter: @KineticL

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle.