I'm really pleased with my marathon recovery. Certainly, I didn't expect to be running as well or as much as I have been able to after the marathon. When I ran my last marathon, I was hurting so badly after that I wasn't able to run for several weeks. That was my expectation after this one--I thought maybe I'd have to take at least a week off. But I was able to run an easy 4 just 2 days later. I read that lack of soreness and an easy recovery is proof of a good training plan. So I've been pretty happy about all that. I'm done racing for the year, and plan to spend the rest of fall and winter rebuilding and letting my legs recover from all the running I did this summer.
But imagine my surprise when I see what some of my friends are doing! One of my fellow facebookers ran a PR at a half marathon just a week after her blazing fast marathon. Three of my local peeps are running a 50k this weekend--just 3 weeks after the marathon. I guess you could look at the marathon as a training run for an ultra. Another facebook friend ran a marathon this past weekend and is planning another just 3 weeks from now.
I understand the motivation to keep moving. After all, training for a marathon gives a runner a high level of fitness which is hard to sacrifice! Especially after running a strong marathon, I certainly don't relish the idea of losing speed and strength. But running experts all agree that it is important to give your body time to adequately recover after running such a grueling distance. Without adequate recovery, you are more prone to injury and illness. Running hard and long causes temporary skeletal muscle damage. Studies of runners post marathon have shown the presence of myoglobin in the bloodstream for several days. Have you heard of rhabdomyolysis? This is the breakdown of muscle products after muscle damage from injury or extreme exercise which can lead to kidney damage and other problems. Crossfitters and other high intensity exercisers can experience this too.
Most experts recommend doing a "reverse taper", which is somewhat like what I did following Chicago. In other words, look at the miles you did for your taper weeks and rebuild back up. I felt good enough to do some easy running 2 days after the marathon, and that's what I did. I still feel good but I'm starting to notice a little bit more slowing. That's to be expected but is a little tough on the ego!
Another part of recovery, but no less important, is rearranging priorities. Things that I put on the back burner, so to speak, have been pushed forward again. Work has been putting pressure on me to pick up extra hours at a clinic that is short staffed. I've reluctantly offered some hours on my day off. My husband and I have been planning some home renovations, on which we are moving forward (slowly). I need to complete some continuing education hours--I haven't started that but will over the weekend.
The most important issue concerns my oldest son, whose struggles I have written about before. While I never put aside my concerns, I kept hoping that he would turn things around with a little nudging from us. Actually, more than nudging, we have been pushing him, but he continues to struggle. I had stupidly, naively hoped that by training for another marathon that I was setting an example of going after a big goal, training for it, and reaping the benefits. But he wasn't impressed. Not at all. Now that I no longer have that big race ahead of me, I have come to the realization that we need some professional help with him. Making the decision to get help for him was really painful for me, and will most likely continue to cause grief as we move forward. But I need to work on this as hard as I trained for that marathon.
Recovery has so many facets. Many of which have nothing to do with running. But running will get me through this too.