There are eight weeks until the Boston Marathon and we are in the heart of training. Weekly mileage is increasing, long runs are growing, and cumulative fatigue is making speed work even more challenging. All the hard work is stress on your body. The better your recovery, the harder you can train. If you haven’t started a recovery routine, it isn’t too late! Here is an introduction to recovery during marathon training (I plan to write about each technique with greater detail in the near future).
There are two kinds of recovery: active and passive. Active recovery means being active in a way that promotes recovery; it takes effort and/or planning on your part. Passive recovery means stillness and inactivity. Both types of recovery have a place in training.
Active recovery can take on many forms. An active recovery run can provide an opportunity to actively engage the soft tissue — muscles, tendons and ligaments — by promoting blood flow without the catabolic effect of over-stressing muscle fibers. Cross training, such as swimming or cycling, can also provide some of the same benefits. Yoga, stretching, foam rolling, and self massage are other examples of active recovery. There are many running specific tools – such as the bar I am using in picture on the right.
The most obvious example of passive recovery is a rest day– this means no running, cross training, or lifting. Sleep is another example of passive recovery and is often under estimated. During my highest weeks of mileage, I even sneak in naps on days I run twice or the afternoon following a long run. Getting a professional massage can reap huge benefits. One of my favorite passive recovery tools is an epsom salt bath. After a hard work out or long run I often do not feel like doing anything EXCEPT soaking in the tub!
Nutrition is also an important factor in recovery. Hydrating immediately after a run is important, even in cold temperatures. Water is often adequate, but depending upon temperature and effort, you may want to include some electrolytes as well. After long runs and hard efforts I make smoothies with protein powder. Incorporating certain foods such as fish oil, vitamin C, ginger and turmeric into your diet can help decrease inflammation.
I have to admit, I am lazy. I do NOT do everything I should do, especially when it comes to recovery but I have improved especially as I have increased my weekly mileage. You do NOT have to be perfect. Try to incorporate some sort of recovery into your training – something is better than nothing!
Remember STRESS + REST = GROWTH