Today Leadville 100 is now 10 days behind me. I spent the morning taking a long, super slow hike up to the summit of Mt. Elbert outside of Leadville with great company and perfect warm summer weather. I loved it. My focuse has shifted in these past several days and has been focused on seeing to all the necessary elements of recovering from such a toll on the body and mind. After years of ultramarathons, thousands of miles of training, and nine 100 mile race finishes, I’ve found a few undervalued aspects of recovery that aid immensely in feeling good, feeling happy, and getting back to running strongly.
#1 – KEEP REST DAYS RESTFUL – The few days after a race can be some of the most important in a healthy recovery. For almost any distance this means taking full rest days. The problem in our constantly “busy” culture, is that the term “rest” has a hazy definition. Rest days should be full of relaxing, low stress, low energy, enjoyable activity. Rest days are NOT the time to catch up on all the chores, house work, side projects, and other things that are put off. I know life keeps rolling and there are inevitably commitments, like family and work, which need to be attended to, but a little bit of planning can go a long way. Perhaps take an extra day off of work after a huge ultramarathon effort, extend that trip to the race destination an extra day and spend it relaxing, or schedule other commitments for a bit later in the week so there are still some good chunks of absolute calm time after family and work commitments. Stress is stress, and bodies don’t exactly know the difference, so the few total rest days after a race should involve (as much as possible) calm, relaxing, and passive activities.
#2 – KEEP MOVING – Depending upon the race distance and intensity, this is different for everyone, but I’ve found that super easy, light normal homo sapien activity to be helpful in getting the blood flowing to your muscles to aid recovery and help to keep some serenity and mental health. Recovery time doesn’t mean shut the blinds, turn on netflix, and only go out for palettes of Ben and Jerry’s from Costco. Now is the perfect time to go for a relaxing walk in a park with family or friends, an easy bike ride around the neighborhood, or a small amount of relaxing yoga. Activity does not mean intensity, and natural movement every single day helps the mind and body feel right. It helps in recovery too.
#3 – ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS ARE YOUR FRIEND – After the race is over it’s naturally to have a symbolic sigh of relief. The training is over, the constant focus has died, and now is the time to let loose. Except it’s not. And unless you want to feel like crap more and more, healthy eating is always important. Yes, indulgences are usually part of the post race celebration, and apart of living life, but we all know highly processed foods, and specifically those high in processed sugars and unhealthy fats do not help the body with this time of reset and renewal. Eat enough, eat often, and try your best to eat anti-inflammatory. It will help. If you’re not sure what exactly I mean by anti-inflammatory foods, an easy google search will give you plenty of resources. A personal favorite author and speaker of mine, I’d recommend checking out, is Mark Sisson of the Primal Diet (https://www.primalblueprint.com/pages/about). In the ultrarunning world in particular, I’d recommend checking out the runner Jeff Browning (https://www.gobroncobilly.com/). He has a lot of related ideas that has helped him kick ass at the highest levels and recovery better well into his late 40s .
In general, most of us in this world of running know what it means to be “healthy.” The basics still hold true in this time of post race recovery, and a couple areas of attention could help the process along.
~Get Out and Get After It. Happy Running Y’all~