Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recovery From Your Ultra

There in one key to successful recovery from any ultra.  Patience.  This is usually pretty easy the week after any ultra whether it is a 50K or 100 miles.  Your legs feel like lead, you are tired and really don't want to run at all. It is, however, important to get right back out there and run that next week.  Not very hard and not very long, but run.  The recovery I will suggest is for someone that trained using the program I outlined in the earlier post, The First Ultra - Training from a One Hour Run, posted 3/16/2012.  If you trained using a plan that included more than three weekly runs, you will want to run more than I suggest below.

Week 1, following the ultra:
If  you finish the race on Saturday, by Tuesday you are ready for a short run.  I would suggest running an easy 45 minutes, then on Thursday run another 45 minutes.  If you just can't run the entire 45 minutes, walk.  It would be fine to walk the 45 minutes, at least the first run on Tuesday.  Saturday go out and run an easy 1.5 or 2 hours.  Run at a relaxed pace and if you have been running hills, run an easy hill or two.

Week 2:  Your are ready to increase the speed on your mid-week runs to about as fast as you were running before the race.  Keep the length of these runs to between 45 minutes and one hour.  Saturday run a fairly hard three hours.

Week 3:  You are ready to run the same mid-week runs you were doing before the race.  The same distance and the same speed.  If you do not have a race planned in the near future you will probably want to hold your long training runs to between three and four hours until time to start preparing for the next race.  Run three consecutive weeks hard and take it a little easier on the fourth week.  Another option might be to run three hours for two weekends then four hours on the third weekend then back off and run a shorter run (maybe 2 hours) on the fourth weekend.  As you get back into these longer weekend runs pay attention to your body.  If the runs are really hard, back off again and give yourself a little more time to recover.  Don't over do it.

Week 4:  If you have a race scheduled then you are now ready to get right back into training.  Pick up the training plan at 4 hours when you are the correct number of weeks out from the race.  You will reach a point where a four hour run really isn't too hard.  This is also a good time to explore some new trails if you are fortunate enough to have that option.  Get a trail map and go out and get lost.

Sleep is just as important during the recovery phase as it was while you were at the peak of you training.  Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night and eight when you can.  Sleep is especially important during those first few days following the race.  Your body cannot recover without it.

You may find yourself wanting to eat everything is sight following the race.  Personally, I crave all the stuff I almost never eat because it is so bad for you.  I keep threatening to stop at a Captain "D,s" following a race, but I haven't found one on the way home yet.  If you read my account of the drive back to Houston following the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February you will know what I mean.  I stopped at a Whataburger and got a double meat and cheese hamburger, order of fires, chocolate shake and large coffee.  And I ate almost all of it!  Need I say more.  This is really not how to replenish what you burned in the race.  You do need to eat a good meal after a race.

Following every long training run (3 hours or more) and race, have a bottle of a recovery drinks like Hammer Recoverite or Endurox with you to drink within 30 minutes of finishing.  I pre-mix the powder with water for training run and keep it cold in a cooler with a cold pack.  If I am running a race, then I wait to mix the recovery drink with water after the race.  The key is to drink it in the first 30 minutes.

"How well you perform tomorrow depends on how well you recover today, which is why you can't cut corners when it comes to your post-workout fueling. Recoverite supplies your body with the proper 3:1 ratio of complex carbohydrates and the highest quality whey protein isolate, along with generous amounts of multi-beneficial glutamine (a whopping 3 grams per serving!), the potent antioxidant l-carnosine, and a full-spectrum electrolyte profile. The result is rapid and enhanced recovery, which allows you to obtain the maximum value from all your hard workouts, ideally prepping your body for your next workout or race. Make sure you're recovering right with Recoverite and remember, it makes a superb meal replacement drink as well. Train hard, recover right today and feel great tomorrow."  From the Hammer Nutrition website.


Normally, I don't like to walk, ever.  Following the Tahoe Rim Train 100 in July of 2011, I actually walked a lot.  Two days after race, Marye Jo and I hiked up to Marlette Lake.  This is a 3 mile climb of 1,600 feet.  We then ran back down the hill to the car.  On the way back to the B&B we stopped at a small park with a beautiful overlook of the lake and hiked down to the edge of Tahoe for a picnic, then back up to the car.  (Probably 300 ft up over 1/3 mile.)  The next day we drove over to Emerald Bay on the West side of Lake Tahoe.  In route we climbed a large intrusive stock (Volcanic rock that cooled within the ground) probably about 250 feet tall near the town of Tahoe Pines.  We then drove on to Emerald Bay where we hiked around on top of the Eagle Creek Falls on the Emerald Bay Highway (Hwy. 89.)  We then hiked down the the Vikingsholm Home on the lake shore.  The trail drops 500 feet in one mile.  I decided to run back to the top while Marye Jo walked.  I didn't think I could run all the way to the top but I did, then I turned around and ran back down about 1/3 mile to where I met Marye Jo, then ran back up again and on to get the car and drive back to pick her up.  The run actually felt good although I would not have make it much further.  Below is a shot of Emerald Bay from the top of Eagle Creek Falls.


Following the Leadville 100 in 2009 we returned to Telluride for a week after the race.  Three days after the race we hiked up (almost to) Liberty Bell mine at 3.4 miles from out hotel, and climbed form 8,760 ft to 11,680 (almost made 3,000) and of course, we had to hike back down.  A couple of days later I ran up Tomboy Road to the Tomboy Mine Ruins, a five mile run climbing 2,650 feet and run back down.  Actually, I had to walk in several spots going up.  The real key is to make yourself go out and run a few days after you ultra.  Play it by ear and run as long as it is comfortable.  You will be right back into your training in no time and ready for the next race.  Below are three shots from Tomboy Road.



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