Friday, November 18, 2011

Richmond Marathon: How to Recover Like a Boss

I realize that I haven't posted anything truly chocolate-related for a week now - no brownie recipes, no chocolate reviews, no recaps of chocolate crawls around the country. That will return next week, I promise, but can I remind you that I RAN A F*&^%*@ MARATHON ON SATURDAY? Yeah, so that gives me license to take over this blog with marathon talk.

What I WILL give you today is something a little more lighthearted than my post on the trials and tribulations of marathon training or my post on why I broke down in tears at the finish line. Those were both important to me, though very difficult to write.

Anyway, back to the marathon (have I mentioned that I ran a marathon? did I? let me say it again: I RAN A MARATHON). One thing that I was a little afraid of was the legendary pain in the days following the marathon. Britt, for example, was feeling a bit off this week after she also RAN A MARATHON on Sunday. So I outlined a serious recovery plan for the hours and days after the marathon to minimize this pain, and found myself with minimal muscle soreness just 24 hours after finishing.

Want to know how? Well, to start out with, eat after you finish.
Yeah. Chocolate covered pretzels. Sugar and salt. Necessary.

But here are a few other hints that might help you out:
  • When you park before the race, write down exactly where you have parked on the back of your race bib so that you don’t have to walk all over the city trying to find your car like this guy. (I actually realized that I should do this before reading that article, which I didn't see until two days after the race.)
  • Accidentally park a mile from the finish line so that you are forced to keep walking after you finish the race. This will ensure that your legs don’t lock up on the drive home.
  • Recognize that the entire purpose of that foil blanket you get at the finish line is to allow you to at least partially cover yourself while you change your clothes in the parking lot; specifically, it’s so that you can put compression tights on for the drive home.
  • Once you get back to your hometown, go to a pool to pool run/pool limp for 20-30 minutes before you go home. You will probably walk into the building barely able to shuffle your feet but might even find yourself able to walk up the stairs when you leave; the process can relieve stress on your joints and get your muscles moving.
  • Stretch as best you can. If you can tolerate the pain, try to foam roll. This will hurt. Badly. Even if you get in the pool running, you may let out a long string of obscenities when you get to your quads. It’s worth it.
  • Find a cute guy willing to spend 15 minutes working the knots and tightness out of your right calf muscles. If you are extremely lucky, he might be kind enough to work on your left calf muscles for 15 minutes, too, even though this is the leg that cramped up for miles 7-14 and, as a result, you scream at him the entire time about the pain.
  • Take an ice bath that night. This will sound very unappealing if it is 30 F the morning of your race, but it’s necessary.
  • Go swim the day after. Preferably with somebody who likes to do slow social kicking, which will loosen up your legs even more.
And now, let's talk about things you definitely shouldn't do:
  • You know that cute guy who worked all of the knots out of your calves? Do not try to impress him the day after the marathon by showing him that you are recovered enough to jump, because you might discover that while you can jump with your right leg, you cannot jump with your left leg.
  • If you decided to drastically reduce the amount of wheat in your diet two months before the marathon because you read on the internet, the source of all indisputable and fact-checked information, that this might help address thyroid problems that may or may not be causing you to wake up freezing or overheated several times a night, do not eat four pieces of flatbread for dinner the night after the marathon. You could very well discover that the fact that cutting back on wheat alleviated the situation actually wasn't the placebo effect and will sleep about 20 minutes because you spend all night deciding whether you should be wearing three hoodies or zero.
  • If you are sad that you couldn't go after fast swim practices for three weeks because of marathon taper, you might think that the Monday morning after a Saturday marathon is a great time to get back on this because your muscles aren't really in pain. You would be wrong, and will instead discover that your arms and legs are so weak that they feel like they are made out of paper because, surprisingly, running 26.2 miles causes widespread, systemic fatigue. Who knew?
  • You’ll probably find yourself really hungry the day after, and might decide that, to replenish your glycogen stores, you should make some cookie dough with no intent of baking it and every intent of eating it straight. Don’t. You’ll feel sick after eating this for dinner (also, see above note on wheat).
So that's that. A marathon, from training to racing to recovery. Back to the chocolate reviews next week.


  1. LOL this is hilarious (and extremely informative). Glad that you're recovering well, Victoria!

  2. Lots of good decisions here. Be kind to cute and helpful fellas, got it:)

  3. I think what you really mean is make sure you make gluten free cookie batter with no intent of actually baking it. That is the real advice here.

  4. Other things not to do: come down with the cold from hell...
    Things to do: walk the dog daily despite the horrible cold and enjoy the weirdly nice November weather.

  5. Surprisingly, I agree with Beth.

  6. Noted. I will do my best to follow this plan. Please send spare cute guys my way.

  7. This is so funny and so true. Although I've never run one, it made me laugh a lot. :)

  8. Hahah great post :) ill have to keep this in mind..if i get to run mine!

  9. Hahhahahah I love this! So true, especially the cute guy part. That's crucial for a great recovery. ;) You and I recover like it's nobody's business!! :) Honestly, it's been a week and cookie dough sounds amazing right about now. I think I should add to my glycogen stores tonight. :)

  10. I....should be following all these great pieces of advice right now, yet I've done nothing but drink wine and eat carbs to recover from my 50 miler. I did eat chocolate covered pretzels at the aid station though. Pool running sounds very smart.

  11. Oh, and running a marathon is AMAZING, brag about it all you want!

  12. When I walked into class on the Tuesday after MCM, I was still limping quite a bit and my students were concerned there was something wrong with me. I told them I just had something wrong with me mentally for running a marathon but I'd be able to walk down the stairs normally in a few days. Nothing says "I ran a marathon" like walking like a 90 year old with a cane. And don't stop talking about your marathon...that way I won't feel so bad about continuing to talk about mine hahaha.