Orchestrate Your Own Recovery PART 1
Are you currently basking in the beautiful aftermath of ultra-running euphoria? On returning to your hotel did your saturate your day of running in the shower then crawl under the white hotel duvet to twitch yourself to wakeful sleep? At dawn, did you utter a groan when your feet hit the carpet and cringe as you lowered yourself onto the breakfast chair? Did you quietly revel in the ‘you-are-mad’ stares from hotel guests?
If so, you will be experiencing Euphoric Ultra Runner Syndrome. Enjoy it whilst it lasts because sadly, this is often replaced with Lost-Your-Mojo Runner Syndrome for which you must orchestrate your own recovery.
Here are my recovery suggestions:
Day 1-3: Euphoric Ultra Runner Syndrome and the DOoMs Days - Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness Days
These are the days of craving Mum’s apple crumble with more ice-cream than apple. During these days you might be lucky enough for someone to take pity and play the violin for you. Revel in the attention. For soon the novelty of mopey runner will wear off and you will be left to make your own cuppa again.
- WALK gently in bare feet. This will help to reset your sensory pathways and relax stiff muscles
- WADE in ocean water as much as possible. The movement of the cool water will massage the muscles and the high sodium concentration will help to reduce inflammation.
- ELEVATE. Lie with your legs vertically up a wall at the end of a day. The optimal duration would be 10-20 minutes of upside-down time. This will help to remove poorly draining fluids from damaged muscle units.
- EAT a horse in small mouthfuls. Small frequent intakes of protein will help to rebuild muscle fibers.
- FUEL on avocado with cashew butter? Pick your poison but small, frequent doses of high-quality fats will help to rebuild the body tissues including cell walls, neurons and our hormones.
- SLEEP like Grandpa. The run will have induced a coma-like state. Don’t fight your inability to focus on emails or the evening news. Instead opt for large and frequent amounts of quality sleep. If you can’t sleep then rest in a darkened room away from outside stimulation.
- REHYDRATE on electrolytes not coffee. Your sodium levels will be dramatically depleted. When you are feeling flat and fuzzy, opt for a bottle of quality electrolyte over an afternoon caffeine hit. I could also fill a bath with the amount of green tea I enjoy during this phase of my recovery. Green tea is a natural antioxidant and has been shown to help reduce inflammation.
- YOUR HOMEWORK. Write down the key lessons of your race with as much honesty as you can muster so that you can dissect this again later. Don’t forget to mention the brain fades, tummy grumbles, clumsy moments and negative thought processes. These can all inform you and a coach/mentor about what did and didn’t work in the race preparation and execution. Now put it away and forget about it. It is now time to ‘chill’.
- PLAN your next race. I bet you are having trouble deciding on what to make for dinner let alone which race to devour next. Leave race strategizing for later.
- INVOKE PAIN. Massage, dry needling and other forms of torture should come later. For now, focus on gentle movement, elevating your legs, rest and nutrition.
- TRAIN. Enjoy flying by the seat of your pants. If this was a key race in your calendar, you shouldn’t be focussing on returning to training for a while. The rule I use is every 10km I race at optimal intensity will require one week of recovery.
- GRUMP. Go to bed.