Running Rambles #12 [Recovering for Back-2-Back Races]

I don’t race a lot to be honest. I wish I could do more of them, but my life gets in the way. I usually have to work weekends and racing season is right in the middle of busy time at CTB.

I also don’t race that much because of cost. I started running because it was a cheap way to sweat and get away from my problems. I love to run and having a relatively free hobby that is also pretty healthy is great for me. Racing, although completely worth the cost, does have a cost and sometimes it’s not lucrative for me to pay it.

I don’t usually race “just for fun”. I don’t have $30-$70 to race for fun. I said in my Skunk Cabbage Recap that if something hurt I was going to slow down. I was always going to try hard. Sometimes trying hard gives me great results, other times it’s just not my day.

The past two weekends I had races and I raced hard. Last Sunday at Syracuse it was not anyone’s day, but I still ran hard and was sore for the few days after. I am still sore today from Skunk. No matter how fast I go, I race hard and my body takes a hit.

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This is a long introduction into what I wanted to ramble about today. I cannot promise that this will work for you, but I was relatively successful in recovering from Syracuse to run Skunk. A few things I am keeping in mind is that I am a hell of a lot fitter this year than last year. It was not my ability to recover this week that got my a 4 minute PR. I believe that if I hadn’t run Syracuse the week before I might have broken 1:20:00. Then again, racing last weekend forced me to run lighter the next week, which if I hadn’t done that I might have been tired for the race.

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I don’t know if either one is true so take these recovery tips with an inward eye and speculative mind.

Recovery Week During Races

1.) Take at least one day completely off running, but do something to get the blood going

I rode the bike, foam rolled and did some light weight training.

2.) Do mobility exercises everyday

I do hip and ankle work 2-3 times per week. In between those two races, I did the Myrtl Routine and body weight exercises every single day. They are tedious and it was “one more thing” but DO IT. It decreases the likelihood you’ll pull something.

3.) Compression and elevation

At the end of the day when I could or during the day I would wear compression socks and put my feet up. I have a very physical job, so when it was slow, I sat. I just got off my babies (my feet) and let them rest.

4.) SLEEP

I regularly try to get 8-9 hours a night. When I say that I mean I go to bed with at least 9 hours to spare. I set myself up to get more sleep. I also slept in on Wednesday and skipped a group run in favor of the treadmill because I didn’t feel rested.

5.) Use the treadmill

Ok hear me out. It was a frigidly cold week. My muscles were sore and tight and delicate. Going outside for a run was putting them in a vulnerable state and increasing the chance I would pull something with cold, tight muscles. If you need to, use the indoor monster, in fact, I recommend it. This also allows you to set the pace so you make sure you’re going slow enough to recover.

6.) GO SLOW

The first day back this will be easy. I am writing this on Tuesday after Skunk and I felt like I was crawling today, but I was sore so it was welcome. However, once you get back into it, it is tempting to speed up. Don’t do it. This is where the treadmill helps. If you can’t talk comfortably, it’s too fast.

7.) Do Short Speedwork

Baring injury or soreness (whcih would make me reevaluate my race plans) do short fast intervals for 30 minutes 2 days before your next race. This reminds your legs what race pace feels like and will help with turnover. I stopped feeling sore on Thursday, so on Friday I did a couple 400s during a 30 minute run. This was followed by a cool down and proceeded by a warm up.

8.) Run the day before

What I do for my half marathons is take the amount of time I think it will take me to run the race, half it and run for that long, and then bike or elliptical for the rest of the time at a very easy pace. I do this to keep my body aware of how long I will be on my feet the next day.

Then, I race!

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Have you ever run back-2-back races?

What do you do after a race?

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15 comments

  1. Very smart advice! I’m not a runner, but I do work out a lot and I think people take for granted how important recovery is to performance.

  2. I love it when people talk rest and recovery because it’s such an important part of training that I feel like a lot of people overlook. I mean, how are our muscles supposed to rebuild and help us kick serious butt if we’re not giving them the time to do that?

  3. Great tips, thanks. I have not run back to back in a week yet, but I’ve done a half every two weeks for the last month and a tapered long run between. I’ve found wearing compression socks for a day or two after does help. I have a tough time covering a lot of miles during the week with my work schedule.

    • I feel that. Work is picking up for me now too so after the marathon my mileage should decrease significantly haha

  4. Wow! Two races in less than a week!? Your dedication never ceases to impress me.
    It’s really good of you to take care of yourself when you’re working hard. There’s no point in getting injured–then you’d never be able to race again. It’s also awesome that you make sure you have 8 or more hours of sleep a night–I’m pretty bad about that these days in grad school.

    • I really just love sleeping! My bed misses me when I’m gone haha. I also don’t know what people do when they stay up all the time. Ok, well I could probably fill the time…but sleep>that

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