Long Distance Runs – Recovery Tips

Today I reached a personal best for both distance and time/pace in my preparation for the Dublin City marathon at the end of October 2018. When you put your body under that strain for that amount of time, knowing how to recover from that bodily stress will help you start walking properly again in no time!

22miler

Tip #1

Recovery from a long run actually starts in the run itself. Minimise your dehydration levels by taking small sips of water mixed with coconut water often (every 2-3 miles works well for me) to quickly replenish lost salts and electrolytes as you sweat. Always run on grass where available – you will cut your risk of injury in half.

Recovery from a long run actually starts in the run itself.

Tip #2

Epsom salts. When you get home, run a piping hot bath and throw 1-2 cupfuls of these amazing little minerals into it before you get in. The two main ingredients here are the minerals magnesium and sulfate which are both readily absorbed through the skin. They help to ease pain and reduce inflammation which will help your sore muscles recover faster. Plus you will really enjoy a soak in the tub after all that road time. You can get a big tub (4kg) in any pharmacy for about €12-€15. I use the UltraPure range below at the moment and find it really helpful.

ultrapure range

Tip #3

Try to eat within 1.5 hrs of finishing your run. For me, this is a tough one as it takes at least that amount of time for my appetite to return but when it does I turn into a caveman. You will need a mix of complex carbs and good quality protein for recovery. Right now I am really enjoying a halloumi burger with sweet potato fries as my post-run reward meal. Delish!

Tip #4

Have a beer or whatever is your tipple of choice that evening. Small reward systems are important and should not be overlooked as they improve the psychological experience of what you are doing. You deserve it!

Tip #5

Rest is the best performance enhancer on the market today. Underrated and omitted from today’s “hack” culture, getting good quality sleep both before and after a long distance run can make all the difference in terms of how you feel and your recovery. Sleep your way to improvement.

Tip #6

The next day, go for a small run. I know this may be the last thing you want to do but trust me this little step will pay off in spades when you go for your next proper run. I usually do 0.5 to 1 mile run with my kids the next day and have some fun with it. It helps to loosen up the body and get rid of any remaining lactic acid in the joints. Trust me on this one.

Apply these tips to avoid this.

 

 

 

Avoid Hacks – Embrace The Long Road

Next month I am aiming to complete my 2nd marathon in 2 years and I am really looking forward to it.  I only started running properly in mid-2016 when I was offered a redundancy package and took some time off to spend with my family. It was during this time that I decided to take on a challenge that seemed to me to be way outside my comfort zone at that time and the marathon ticked all those boxes. But once I made the decision to do it – this is the critical part – I made a commitment to myself to complete the training, to prioritize the activities and above all else, to enjoy the process and the journey. Going into that challenge with that mindset helped me enormously not only to complete the marathon last year but also to finish it strongly which left me with a taste for more running.

I am 7 weeks out from the marathon day itself, with about 10 weeks of training completed at this point. So far so good, the body is feeling healthy, the mind is in a positive state and I feel the fitness and recovery are both improving steadily.

As I write this I want to make one point very clear: the training for this event is hard. There is no way around it. You must put in the hard work to enable yourself to complete the distance and enjoy the race on the day. Obviously, you can’t just turn up on the day and run a marathon but I hear plenty of stories of would be marathon runners short cutting the training or trying to condense the plan e.g. shorter duration, higher miles. I don’t believe any of these “hacks” will yield the same kind of results as when you build your fitness slowly, have patience with the plan and stick to your goals, even when you really really don’t want to. Hasten slowly is the best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to marathon training.

I want to make one point very clear: the training for this event is hard. There is no shortcut, quick hack or way around it. You must put in the hard work…

For example, as part of my plan, I run to work a few mornings a week. This is about a 6.5 mile run down the N11 dual carriageway into the city centre. It involves running on lots of grass verges, dodging cyclists, navigating traffic and pedestrians. It takes me about an hour to run it and I have a shower in work when I’m done. I run past hundreds of cars stuck in traffic. I don’t have any food beforehand, I just get up, get dressed into my running gear, kiss my kids and wife goodbye and off I set. Anyone I tell this routine to thinks I am crazy. I can’t think of anything worse, one person said to me. For me, it works as I can build the running into my day (tip number 1 for success) and I can come home from work in the evening and spend fun time with my kids before bedtime (tip 2 for life enjoyment). But some mornings, like this morning, I woke up tired and lying in bed I came up with lots of really good reasons not to pull on the runners and open the door. In hindsight, this was just procrastination and once you become aware of it, you can cut through it. I cut through it this morning by just pulling on the runners. That was enough to get me moving in the right direction.

I have chosen (and it is your choice too) to embrace the long road of marathon running, to hasten slowly and steadily and to enjoy the changes it is bringing into my life (body, fitness, mood, enjoyment). The hacks might work for a little while but for sustainable and real change, the long road is the only road.

If you can relate, leave a comment below, would be great to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Forget Weight Loss, Focus on Health Gain

On my way home from work today, I was waiting for a train. A couple of things struck me as I observed the goings on around me.

  1. How obsessed (read possessed) we, as humans, have become with our phones. I would estimate that about 90% of the people I observed had their face well and truly planted into a smartphone, oblivious to the world going on around them. Hard to be mindful when you are so far away from the now.
  2. A lot of people are carrying some extra weight – I would guess if they had their BMI assessed, they would either be in the overweight or obese category – mostly office workers given the location and attire I’m guessing.
  3. Nobody looks very happy 😦

There is no judgement in any of this, we are where we are as a society, but it is interesting to pause and observe the world around you and make yourself more aware.

While we do, as humans, need to be aware of our own body weight, it is only one factor in your overall health picture. In today’s society, there is an overemphasis on weight loss, created by gyms, slimming clubs and fad diet marketing, I feel the focus should be more on health gain. Once you gain health, your body will manage its weight just fine and you won’t have to worry about counting calories or points or any of the things that the short term unsustainable quick fix weight loss programs advocate.

Focus your precious attention and energy on long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes that will stack the health deck in your favour and issues like weight loss will fade into the background and become a side effect of you improving your overall health and well-being. This means setting different goals that don’t revolve around losing x pounds but more focus on activities and healthy habit creation. You are what you habitually do.

Forget losing weight and focus on gaining your health.

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