One of the most common types of questions I get is regarding RECOVERY – especially after big races, or between races stacked closely together. Throw in travel and that can make recovery even more complicated. Rather than continuing my attempts to respond to each one, usually on my phone, with my thumbs, under the covers, in the middle of the night… I’ve decided I’d just write out a few general thoughts here, on a computer, with my hands.
The easiest way to recover from a race, is to be in race specific shape before the start. Create a plan that will allow your body to be ready to handle the specific stresses of race day. If this isn’t your expertise, hire a coach. It’s worth it. I promise.
Our bodies are designed to move. A cool down after a race or tough workout is especially important. Effort should be easy. The key is simply to pump nutrient dense blood out your heart, through your arteries to all of your different cells. That same blood picks up metabolic waste and removes it through our kidneys via our veins. This whole process is facilitated by movement. The goal of these cool downs is never to gain fitness, it is simply to expedite recovery.
The first thing I do after a workout is complete is drink an Ultragen recovery shake from First Endurance, unless I make it into a thick smoothie, then I eat it. I then drink additional water, then actual food. I do this not only on race day, but after everyrun or workout, every day of the week. This is something I never miss. I combine this with MultiV and OPTYGEN HP by First Endurance as well. They provide the essentials my body needs for optimal recovery, as well as additional components that help me regulate my body’s level of stress hormones. That creates a cascade of effects which allows my body to recovery efficiently and build fitness. I’ve used them every day for several years. I know that I’m getting everything I need with that combination. I am loyal to First Endurance, because First Endurance is loyal to science. I don’t have to wonder if there is another, better product on the market. I know through experience that the team at First Endurance is committed to the research and up to date on new research.
There are a couple of other key things that I do following a long race, whether a marathon or ultra marathon, as well as during high volume weeks of training. The first is SLEEP. I try to stay away from caffeine as much as possible when I’m not racing. Not because I don’t love it, but because it affects my ability to sleep as much as I know I need. Another product I use in these high stress situations, besides the First Endurance line, is Zicam. It’s an over the product that is clinically proven to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. Any high stress situation can compromise the strength of our immune system. Taking Zicam in these situations has helped me stay healthy by avoiding contracting common viruses that can take advantage of a compromised immune system. I like the nasal spray version. I typically take it a few days before a big race, and then continue taking it for a few days after a race. I’ve found that by doing this, I get sick less often and recovery faster if I do get sick.
High stress training blocks or hard races, whether marathon or beyond, have the ability to deplete our systems of neurotransmitters and other hormones that we rely on for emotional wellbeing. After our long, sustained efforts from accumulative high volume weeks or long single efforts, our brain chemistry is in a similar state to someone on a Monday morning after a weekend long bender. I typically feel depressed during these first few days, and I may struggle with anxiety and even panic attacks, but I know what’s causing it and I know it will only last for a bit. In the meantime, I focus on what I can control. I move. I eat. I sleep. I take all of the products designed for daily use by First Endurance, as well as any others that I know will help.
Then, I look down the road for another goal. I build a plan, and then begin to work until I achieve it. Then rinse. Then repeat.