April 08, 2012

Recovering from half marathon

Wednesday's muscle release treatment from Chief Chiro's Dr Leah Stadelmann worked wonders—it never ceases to amaze me how much this Active Release Techniques therapy can do for your body.

My first week as an 86-minute half marathoner has been focused on recovering from the effort.

My strategy in last Sunday's 2012 Sunshine Coast half marathon of conserving energy when running uphill by sustaining effort, rather than pace, and using the free speed on the down hills by moving as quickly as gravity let me without extra effort had, not surprisingly, taking a toll on my quads and hamstrings.

It was, of course, a small price to pay for improving my fastest time for 21.1K to 86:54. The age-graded score for my performance is 79.64%, moving towards national class level. A runner's age-graded score is the ratio of the approximate world-record time for your age and gender divided by your actual time.

Age-graded scores have been categorized into these broad achievement levels, with 100% = Approximate World Record Level; over 90% = World Class; over 80% = National Class; over 70% = Regional Class; and over 60% = Local Class. 

On Monday I ran a very slow 10K, sticking to soft trails as much as possible. I walked any incline. It was good to get the blood flowing but I decided to skip the afternoon's 6K.

On Tuesday, my legs were more stiff and sore than the day before, which is typical in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), so I took the day off.

Of course I had managed to Google an article online about a marathon runner who didn't recover in the five weeks between smashing his quads in a tune-up event before the goal race. I can be completely carefree, or worry like crazy; when I told Tim about this story and wondered out loud whether I had ruined my chances for the Vancouver marathon, he just gave me a look and started laughing. "You're fine," he said.

And I knew he was right.

However, the soreness in my quads was no laughing matter. Tuesday was my fourth day off in eight days; I soaked those battered limbs in a hot bath with Epsom salts instead.

On Wednesday morning, I still had to move carefully on an easy 14K. Again, I made sure to stay mostly on soft ground, taking walk breaks on the down hills to spare the quads.

Two hours later, Dr Leah Stadelmann at Chief Chiro worked almost an hour on getting my body back in shape. When I visit her, I typically point to my calves and glutes as the main problem points—this time her focus was on my quadriceps and hamstrings. 

She expertly worked on restoring my legs and lower back, starting with the left quad and then moving to on the right, before flipping me on my side to release those just-as tight hammies. As usual, the treatment was at times uncomfortable, but never painful; she knows exactly how much strength to use, and always double-checks if I flinch.

After she got me to lie on my stomach, she dug further into my hamstrings and upper calves, before releasing my lower back. I felt so much better after her treatment, she's fantastic.

In the evening, I went for a 45-minute walk with Tim and Luka on the trails as Leah had recommended.

The following day, I woke up with a much-restored body and looked forward to a double run. I ran 24K in the morning, sticking to the slower end of my long run pace, followed by 6K at recovery pace in the afternoon.

On Friday, I did 13K, again at recovery pace and on Saturday, I did another 10K.

Today, Sunday, is my last long run exceeding 30K before the Vancouver marathon, and my plan is to run 35K. Four weeks to go!

No comments: