Thursday, April 14, 2011

Half Marathon Recovery

Thank you everyone for the nice comments on my Iron Girl Race Recap!  It was a tough race, but that makes me even more proud that I got a new PR (personal record) while running it!  

Now it is recovery time.  Running a longer distance certainly takes a toll on your body and taking time to slow down some is important.  I think having a plan after a big race is important because sometimes you can get into a bit of funk.  Slowly getting back into a comfortable running/exercise groove can help keep that away.  I am following the post-race plan from the Marathoning for Mortals book (because it is chock full of wonderful information).  It is the same thing I did after the Disney half, so I know it worked out well for me before.  
Down Dog (Yoga Journal)
Pigeon (Gaiam Life)
Those bridges did a number on my thighs and they have been a bit sore, so the days following the race have consisted of lots of yoga poses, stretching, and foam rolling.    Some of my favorite poses and stretches for sore muscles are simple forward bends, heel holds, downward- facing dog, pigeons pose, hamstring stretches, etc.  It always kind of amazes me how something as easy as stretching makes you feel better. Runner's World has a great yoga sequence that I like to use post run.   

IT Band (Runner's World)
Altus Athletic 6-Inch by 24-Inch Foam Roller
I also love to foam roll after EVERY run.  Well, maybe I don't love it, because it can hurt sometimes, but it is a good hurt, because my muscles feel so much better after using it.  I started using a foam roller because I was having some IT band issues and since there have been no major problems.  It pretty much massages your tight muscles, which makes it perfect for use post run.  They are pretty affordable, around $15-$30 depending on the size and density.  We got ours at a Sports Authority, but they are sold at WalMart, Target, and online as well.  I believe most foam rollers come with diagrams of how to use it.  I use the IT band one all the time, but once again, Runner's World has some good videos demonstrating some other ones that might be of interest.

After a day of rest and stretching I got back to cross training and running.  The first week is about 30-40 minutes each day and then I slowly build back up my long runs over the next three weeks. For cross training I am going to start with some easy bike rides and then get back into some light strength training later this week.  This morning was an easy two mile run.  I got up not really feeling like going out, but after it was over I felt great.  I think it was just what I needed!  My long runs for the next three weeks go from three to five miles.  I would like to be able to keep up my half marathon fitness level or at least close to it, so I am still trying to figure out what a maintenance schedule will look like.   

Although I got a better time than my first half, I was SO close (19 seconds) to being under three hours, so another half marathon is certainly in the future!  I like having a training plan and a goal to work towards.  The half marathon distance is just long enough to need to train well for and it is a good challenge for me.  I haven't decided on my next half yet, but I will let you know when I find it!  

In the mean time, I am going to take some time to do some shorter distance races and try some different things, maybe a 30 day challenge or something.  The next, and only, race on my calendar (for now) is at the beginning of May.  For our Girls on the Run final celebration we are participating in the I-Drive 5K Run at Pointe Orlando.  Our girls are pretty speedy so I know they will push me to do well and it is sure to be a fun event!  

How do you recover after a big race?  What does your running schedule look like when not training for a big race, but just trying to maintain your fitness level?  Are you training for anything right now?