This week was the beginning of my recovery from running 26.2 miles. And it has been a week of thinking about that achievement, enjoying many fond memories, and probably talking about the race way too much with my friends. It is hard not to want to share the experience with my friends after having spent so much time this year preparing for it. (Thankfully, most of my friends have been patient with me this week, indulging my tendency to talk 'running').
My running friends have reminded me that taking the time to really let the body recover from an effort like running the marathon is key. Even if things feel 'okay', the body really needs some 'down time'. So I have tried to take it easy. I took a 3-mile Walk on Tuesday morning (which was a good way to warm up the legs and stretch things out). And on Saturday, I did a 4-Mile Run with my running partner just to see how things 'felt' from a running perspective. I was happy to see that the legs and feet were working well. The right knee was a little achy but got better after the first mile. We took it at a nice and easy 11:43/mm pace.
I am taking a page out of the "Active Recovery" playbook. Active Recovery basically is using low-intensity exercise/cross-training to help the body get rid of the lactic acid in the muscles, increase the oxygenated blood flow to the muscles to promote healing, and to maintain a positive mental state (rather than feeling like a slug laying on the couch doing nothing). This is similar to the concept of doing a cool-down run/walk after intense effort -- it helps deliver nutrients to the muscles, remove lactic acid, and generally keeps the mind engaged.
Rest is critical to be sure. But I want to mix it up with low-intensity exercise to keep my body moving. And it makes me feed good! So this week, I took it easy on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I let the body heal. And I had two deep tissue massages (Monday and Friday) to help work out stiffness and a few knots here and there. This has worked well for me this week.
I only ran/walked for 7.2 miles this week. That just seems crazy after so many weeks of 25-35 mile weeks in training. It almost feels like I am being lazy, except that I know the rest period is an important part of training. Next week, I will bring back my Thursday morning run and bump my Long Run to 6 miles. I have a Half Marathon on Nov 3rd so I want to work up to that mileage. Once I hit November, I will be hitting it hard once again in preparation for the Disney Goofy Challenge in January.
Yep! I am still on my post-Marathon high. But I am also reviewing the race in my mind, looking for the lessons that will help me improve, and identifying those things that 'worked' so I can continue doing those. I am going to continue to follow Active Recovery techniques so that I avoid injures leading into 2013, I have big plans, and I need to be at my best to achieve them.