Post-Marathon: Recovery is Cool

I don’t regret my painful times, I bare my scars as if they were medals. I know that freedom has a high price, as high as that of slavery; the only difference is that you pay with pleasure and a smile, even when that that smile is dimmed by tears. – Paul Coelho

Two weeks, I am told, two weeks off will make it all better. Promises..promises. I’m kidding of course. As disappointing as my last race was and as much as I am tempted to get right back in and push at doing better, training harder, running faster, wisdom has it that I stand a much better chance of performing better in the long-term if I recover well.

The idea of recovering after a marathon, giving your body time to heal, is not a new one and is touted by many pros and coaches as necessary and even critical for maximising your long-term potential. It is true that I’ve never paid much mind to this strain of thought before now, but then I am a believer in listening to your body and the truth is mine was crying out for some rest. That doesn’t mean it was an easy decision to make, on the contrary, it took a friend of mine pushing none-to-gently (we all need friends like that) and finally being struck with the cold to get me to capitulate and surrender myself to two weeks sans running. I felt so terrible the first week – due to the cold firstly and then because I couldn’t run – I couldn’t even go to the gym to assuage my sense of deprivation with a workout and was forced to rest. Seems one benefit of recovery is to boost the immune system to guard against viruses, colds and such. Any wonder I needed it? During this recovery period, the focus is on muscle and cell repair and giving my immune system the boosts it needs by resting, sleeping and eating well.

Once I’m working with a goal I’m much more receptive, so this past week hasn’t been so bad. I’m on the mend and proved it with some gym classes, consider it light cross-training. Next week, I’ll resume with some light running as a slow build-up to getting back in training mode. No surprise there..I’m a runner aren’t I? There are races to run, new courses to discover, runners to meet and hopefully PRs to be made. With Boston 2016 behind me, though the disappointment will be with me for a while, I’m relieved and anxious to see what this new running phase will bring. Also, I’m looking forward to shaking things up a bit in the hopes of garnering better results. This is me; always looking at ways to improve as an individual and as a runner; the responsibility and power to do so is mine.





The Power Of Sleep


It’s funny how as you grow older you come to recognize how much your body depends on the little things you take for granted, and while you may have been able to squeeze by on say, bad eating habits, regular partying and drinking, late nights, poor rest and little sleep, as you cross the mid-thirty threshold whether runner or not, you begin to feel, look, and in many cases, perform differently. Your body lets you know in no uncertain terms that unlike before when you could get by on the fly of youth, now you would have to earn it. Those eight hours of restfull bliss that you credited only to growing minds have once again become a necessary reality for both the athlete and healthy-minded individual.

Dr. Matthew Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine, claims “you’re always remaking your body,” and you need sleep to do that. While we sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, rebuild muscles, and rewire our brains. Studies have found that chronic sleep deprivation decreases the time before an athlete reaches exhaustion. And, even one night without sleep decreased the distance test subjects were able to run in a half-hour (Sleep In — It Will Make You Faster, By Kelly O’Mara,

Honestly, I enjoy sleep. In my book, it ranks high up there on my sacred list of things that give unequal enjoyment – demands nothing in return. Thing is, in this day and age of relative unconectivity and constant movement, where we are busy going nowhere fast, it has become more and more difficult to find the time to do so. Amid a lot of struggles, the struggle to garner enough rest on a daily basis has become only too real. As a result, I find myself unable to fulfill my highest potential in many activities that require strenuous effort and attention. In other words, I’m way to tired, way to often. I’m also convinced that were there to be increased hours in the day, we would find even more ways to fill it up and sleep would still be neglected. Sleep just can’t win and for that matter neither will we, not if we continue at the current rate; at some point out bodies are going to yell “enough!” Why should it take that for us to stop and take notice? The red flags are there if we will but open our eyes to them. They include: constant and easy tiredness, lethargy, crankiness and short-temperedness, moodiness, poor concentration and inattentiveness, decreased strength and mediocre performance.

Some ways, aside from keeping your goal in mind, of combatting the sleep-depriving demon are:
1. Create an atmosphere for rest and relaxation: thus, your bedroom should be used only for this purpose with the correct temperature and lighting providing an ambience that is relaxing and sleep-friendly.
2. Have a set schedule where enough sleep is factored in per day: this could mean giving yourself a specific time to go to bed and treating it as you would your training schedule (sacred).
3. Go to bed earlier if you are an early riser to ensure your body gets enough rest. 
4. It helps to relax before bed to get yourself in the zone: eat dinner early, tone down activities and sources of entertaining stimulation and stay away from caffine and alcohol.
5. Nap as needed when sleep-deprived: this can help greatly in reducing stress, restoring energy and concentration though it is not a substitute for being well rested.
There is no denying that each individual is different and so has different needs and so while we all need sleep, we may need different amounts and at different times. Your best bet is to find out what works best for you. While 8-10 hours is the average need of an athlethe, you may find that you feel well and rested after 7 or 9 hours. It is your body and your call, you get to determine this based on the red flags noted above. As you come to discover the power of a good night’s rest, you may discover the reasons behind you falling short on that PR goal.
Watch: The Importance Of Sleep video

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 546 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: