I headed out last night for what I planned to be a very easy, nice 8 mile run.
Half a mile in, I threw in the towel.
My first reaction was that my new shoes are using different muscles in my calves (because they’re lower to the ground – the insole isn’t as tall?). My second reaction was that my legs have not yet fully recovered. So instead of pushing myself, I decided to walk home and do some easy cross-training. At this point, trying to get the miles in will do me more harm than good.
When I got home, I grabbed my bike and rode over to the library to pick up Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The audiobook case was so big that it almost didn’t fit in my Camelbak (sans water bottle). I was having a rough afternoon (for more reasons than not being able to run) and if that case hadn’t fit, I would’ve lost it. But I was able to cram it in and bike home for a whopping 4.5 miles roundtrip.
Then I convinced Travis to walk the dogs with me for another 1.15 miles before we ate mini pizzas and watched 2 episodes of NCIS.
Today, in my spare time, I’ve been researching the best ways to recover from long runs. Things I learned:
1. Eat right after your run, specifically something with protein and carbs. (source)
I already knew this, but since I’m not hungry ever after a long run, I usually shower, take an epsom salt bath, get dressed, stretch and THEN eat. If I do eat right after a run, it’s usually pure carbs, like a bagel with nothing on it. This could have something to do with my slow recovery so I bought some recovery drinks to take right after a long run to see if that helps.
2. Elevate your legs. (source)
According to Livestrong, elevating your legs can help to increase the blood flow and ease the discomfort of muscle tears from exercise. That’s pretty much the idea behind compression tights (which I do wear after long runs) but it can’t hurt to add something else to the mix.
3. Get a massage for tired and sore legs.
The article reads, “According to Coach Jay Johnson, NikeRunning.com’s resident training expert and former track coach for the University of Colorado, a certified massage therapist can help your tired legs recover and get you back on track.” I have a Groupon for an hour-long massage that I’ve been meaning to use. I need to use this sooner than later.
“Even if a runner diligently follows her training program and boosts her recovery through proper diet and hydration, she may still be prone to injury or fatigue. When a runner is left feeling too sore or too tired to run, she should listen to her body and do the one thing marathon runners often dread the most — cut back on running. During a cutback week, a runner can trim her mileage by as much as 50 percent, using the extra time away from running to rest tired muscles, ice aching joints and get a good night’s rest. A runner also can keep her muscles fresh and loose during a cutback week by stretching or cross-training, whether by lifting weights, cycling, swimming or playing another sport.”
I also really liked what Hungry Runner Girl said on her blog
the other day: “If you have to take some time off [from running], don’t worry, running will be there for you when you are back.”
With that mentality, I’m not pushing my legs to run when they don’t want to. Instead, I’m letting them do their thing. Obviously I hope they’ll do their thing sooner than later but I know in the long run, taking some time off is the best idea and will benefit me in the long run.