Week In Review – Recovery and Having Some Fun!

The first few days after a marathon are always pretty interesting, what with tricky considerations like negotiating stairs and rising from a chair without making the same kind of sounds you remember your grandparents making. For me, it’s generally a week of doing very little and eating lots and this week pretty much unfolded like that (but with a bit of fun planned at the end):

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – SUP yoga
Sunday – rest

As you can see, lots of yoga and lots of rest. The ideal recovery week!

On Monday I wasn’t feeling too bad and a number of people commented on how well I was walking (although this was invariably whilst walking on a flat surface as going down stairs was definitely interesting!). I still wanted to go to my Hatha yoga class as I knew a bit of movement and stretching would be good, but at the same time I left my ego at the door and chose all the easiest options for each posture as both my legs and my core were pretty weary. As ever it was a great class and I definitely felt better afterwards.

And there was one other important thing I did on Monday, because when you’re sore from one marathon the logical thing to do is enter the ballot for another one, right?

fullsizeoutput_252fOf course Tuesday brought with it Tuesday Legs. I got away from work in good time and headed to the gym to sit in the hot tub and sauna for a bit to unwind then when I got home I found a Yoga with Adriene video titled ‘Yoga for Tired Legs’. It was just what I needed!

Things were beginning to improve on Wednesday and there were hints of having my own legs back under me, but I was still very much looking forward to my sports massage that evening. I do this regularly which means my massage therapist can spot any knots or potential problems and she was surprised to find that my legs were in ok shape. Yes, there were some tight spots, but nothing unexpected for right after a marathon so that was good news and the massage made a difference to my recovery.

G%d9BXAiSrGZfr1z3hWt4wI also got home that evening to find the most lovely surprise from my charity:

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I love how they put my photo in it. Such a nice surprise.

By Thursday I was definitely feeling much more myself. I had been sleeping well and was much more mobile. Despite that, I knew I still wasn’t up to tackling Ashtanga yoga at the level I usually would so checked my ego at the door once more and stuck to easier variations and skipped the headstand as I didn’t feel ready for that yet. Again, yoga helped me to feel so much better so it was worth going.

Friday was when things started to get a bit more exciting. I took a complete rest day as I had plans with my mum and my sister. Another of the pro couples from Strictly Come Dancing (my favourite TV show) were coming to Perth with their show celebrating Fred Astaire. Since my sister works at the venue she managed to score us signed programmes which was a bonus.

wzK2FgYfRWa8x408AlO5xAWe booked in to have dinner before the show – chicken strips followed by the gourmet burger for me. I had fully intended to have the chocolate fudge cake as well but there wasn’t enough time before the show. Sad times 🙁

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qvwcS0kYRkORw9jO+5L0DgThe show itself was amazing with lots of incredible dancers, singers and costumes. I could have sat watching them all night – a great way to start the long weekend.

And then it was Saturday. Parkrunday. No running for me just yet so I had put my name down to volunteer and was on barcode scanning duties. Incidentally, someone has knitted little cases for our scanners since I last did this job! I can only assume the scanners were getting cold.

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fWFGtPjpRamnC0m0Z8j2YwI love barcode scanning because I get to talk to the runners right after they’ve finished, and as well as asking about their run I had lots of people asking me about Stirling, which was lovely.

After parkrun I headed off to try something new – SUP yoga. This is something I’ve been really keen to try for a while, but also something a bit out of my comfort zone. Yoga I love, but I’ve very little experience of any water-based activities. But the teacher was my friend who teaches the Monday night Hatha class and there was a group which included several people I already knew all heading down to the local activity centre for the class (the first of a block of 4 which I have booked) so this was the ideal opportunity.

Everything was provided for us – boards, paddles, wetsuits and buoyancy aids – so all we had to do was turn up with a towel and change of clothes for afterwards. We got sorted out with equipment and were given some instructions about how to position ourselves on the board and how to paddle. We then got set up on the water (an enclosed, shallow “pond”) and had a chance to get used to paddling (in a kneeling position) for a bit before making our way to the line which had been set up across the water for us to attach our boards to for the class.

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IMG_6550For this first week we stuck to postures in a kneeling, seated or lying position – child’s pose, cat/cow, kneeling lunge, kneeling warrior, seated forward fold, etc. It was really good and I surprised myself by not falling in the water having, fully expected to be the Bridget Jones of the group (yes, even wrestling myself into a wetsuit was a source of some concern, but this passed without incident). Before I knew it we were paddling back in and heading off to get changed.

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IMG_6555There’s a nice cafe at the activity centre so we all stayed for some food afterwards and a good chat about what we had just done. We were all buzzing and can’t wait for the next session in a couple of weeks.

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VhupV3RIRJCXOZIhoDs+zAI’ll admit to needing an afternoon nap after all that outdoors excitement! The rest of the day was restful after that.

Steve and I have made a tradition out of going out for breakfast on the first Sunday after a marathon as a kind of reward for all those weeks of hard work – after all, it’s now May and we’ve been out running every Sunday this year! We went to our favourite place for a cooked breakfast and polished off this delicious selection:

87yfmB1QT52YElkWKC9sagWe then claimed our free drink at Starbucks (thank you Fitness Rewards) and since it was a nice day it was time for the first frappuccino of the year. It tasted like summer!

TKTPt%pPQICYgs4PqDnyJwWe then had a nice relaxing afternoon. The day felt so long without a run to fit in and was a nice way to round off the week.

Have you/would you try SUP yoga?
What would be your ideal day “off” training?

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Week in Review – Fight the Temptation!

In many ways the second week of my post-marathon recovery is the hardest. I know I need that time to make sure my body is fully ready to return to running, but at the same time everything feels ok and I start getting a bit itchy to get out there again – not helped by it being both the Boston and London marathons this week! Being back at work meant everything else felt “normal” so not having all my usual training made things seem a bit odd. It was a week of fighting the temptation for the greater good! I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share a roundup of my recovery week.

Having spent last week limiting myself to nothing more strenuous than walking and yoga, this week I began to reintroduce my usual training rhythm by including some light cross training. Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – swim
Tuesdaygentle cycle walk
Wednesday – walk gentle cycle
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – walk
Saturday – Parkrun volunteer plus afternoon walk
Sunday – walk (after watching the London Marathon!)

Monday was the first day of term which is always a bit of a shock. These days I fall into “holiday mode” quite quickly and get so bound up in my “real life” that it can be a bit of a wrench to be back in the classroom. I was at least cheered by my calendar – even Gary Barlow is getting into the marathon spirit this month!

IMG_1511Since I would normally swim on a Monday, going for a swim after work helped to remind me of my own routine. It was nice to be back in the water, and despite a gap of a couple of weeks since my last swim, I felt I swam quite well. I took it nice and easy since this was technically a recovery workout and although I felt a little more tired than usual at the end, I knew that was the after effects of the marathon and length of time since my last swim so nothing to worry about.

However Monday may have been a bit much for me as I awoke on Tuesday with a scratchy throat and aches that didn’t lift all day. My eyes felt heavy and I didn’t feel like doing anything more than going to my bed. Since Tuesdays had previously been bike intervals, I had planned a gentle half hour cycle to get my legs turning over again, but decided instead to just have a walk in the fresh air then relax at home with some hot food and a nice bath before an early night. One thing that did cheer me up was the arrival of my April challenge medal from Virtual Runner. I had entered a cumulative challenge involving running the marathon distance across the month. I, of course, had decided it would be fun to do the whole thing in one go haha!

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IMG_1513By Wednesday the aches had gone but my throat remained scratchy first thing in the morning for the rest of the week. This meant I felt well enough for the cycle I had missed the day before. It felt good to get my heart rate up a little again, and I enjoyed sitting in the hot tub and steam room afterwards. On this day I was also cheered by the replacements for my end of term “casualties”:

IMG_1514I’ve not yet made a return to my PT sessions so Thursday was simply my Ashtanga yoga class. It was another great class for me and I could feel my legs becoming even more “my own” with every posture. I left feeling relaxed and better than I had done all week.

Ordinarily Friday is my rest day, however I’ve not exactly been over-exerting myself lately! The weather was nice when I got home so I went for a walk for 20 minutes or so to enjoy the extra daylight then waited for Steve to arrive home so we could head out to eat. After returning to work and fighting off what was likely a bug, I was more than ready for my Friday night beer and curry!

IMG_1519Saturday is parkrunday but my two weeks off running were not quite up yet so I was on the volunteer roster once more. This week I was on finish tokens which meant I had to check through them before the run started, but was held up in traffic, so enjoyed a bonus run from the car to get to the start! It felt really good to be running, albeit briefly, and I would have loved a bit more, but at least I know that the enjoyment will be there next week when I do run again.

IMG_1521Since Steve was away at a race further north and Hatha yoga hasn’t restarted yet, I decided to head out in the afternoon for a walk. I had a few errands but didn’t need to go into town so instead walked to the retail park, got a coffee then picked up the bits and pieces I needed before taking a different route home. I was probably out for a couple of hours but it was still a productive day.

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Sunday was London Marathon day and since it was also my last day “off” when it came to running, I had grand plans for a morning on the sofa watching the coverage. I love watching all the races from the elite to the runners in crazy costumes. It’s so inspiring and always makes me want to run another marathon! I spent the whole weekend feeling rather envious of those in London soaking up the atmosphere both at the expo and at the race, so would definitely love to get back there again some day. True to form the combination of the theme tune and inspiring stories had me in tears and keen to get back to running again. There’s just something about the London marathon that makes people lace up and get out there!

When the TV coverage finished I realised that I really should move so walked into town for a coffee and to do a little work for the blog.

IMG_1529Thanks to the time out I’m now itching to get running and target my next challenge. My recovery strategy is one week completely off, one week of light cross training then a week where I re-introduce some easy running so long as there are no issues such as injury or tight muscles picked up in the marathon. Right now my legs feel good and I’m looking forward to a couple of easy runs in the week ahead. I know to expect a slower pace, but I also know that I’ll soon feel like I have my own legs under me again.

How long do you take off running after a marathon or goal race?
Are you training for anything in particular right now?

Week in Review – The Importance of Recovery

Look around any social media running group in the days after a marathon and you’ll find loads of people asking questions about when they should run again. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that. Just like training plans, recovery plans should be tailored to suit the individual: some people will be good to go after a few days, others respond better to at least a couple of weeks. Notice I said recovery plan. The thing about most training plans is that they stop on race day, but having a plan in place to recover properly and return to running when your body is ready is just as important, if not more so when thinking about future races. Those people asking the questions have no doubt followed some kind of training plan to get ready for their race, but not planned their recovery and are left feeling lost. I’ve decided to continue my week in review posts while I’m in my recovery phase to share what works for me. As with previous weeks I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

In the first couple of days after a marathon there’s no way I would want to go for a run as I’m still sore and tired, but by the end of the week I’m usually feeling a lot better and it would be easy at this stage to get carried away and get straight back to training. I’ve learned the hard way that this doesn’t work for me: while my legs may feel better, my CV system is still recovering and the stress of running increases the chance of picking up an injury. A marathon takes weeks, or even months, of preparation and the body needs a chance to recover properly afterwards. Over my last two or three marathon training cycles I’ve found a recovery strategy that works for me, and in the first week post-race my activity is limited to walking and yoga (with plenty of time spent with my feet up and enjoying some treats!). Here’s how my first recovery week looked:

Monday – walking in Paris then travel home
Tuesday – walk
Wednesday – walk
Thursday – walk + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – walk
Saturday – parkrun volunteer + walk
Sunday – walk

Spot the pattern? 😉

I awoke on Monday feeling really not too bad. My legs were weary of course, but nothing felt particularly problematic other than the huge blister I had picked up on my right foot! Once I had this dressed, my walking wasn’t too bad. Ok so stairs felt a bit tricky, but they were still do-able and the more I moved around the better I felt.

After breakfast we finished packing and set off towards the Champs Élysées where we took some photos and had a walk down to the Adidas store for a browse before heading for our favourite cafe.

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Sadly the next thing we had to do was get the train to the airport for our flight home. As usual, the departure lounge was filled with a mixture of slightly sore runners and families who had clearly been to Disneyland Paris. We had a snack (again!), chatted to some other runners we know then got on our flight. Then it was home via the Chinese takeaway for a quick dinner before heading to bed.

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On Tuesday morning I had an appointment with my hairdresser so the easiest thing to do seemed to be to walk there and back. That served the dual purpose of keeping me moving and making sure I still got my 10,000 steps for the day since I have the goal of maintaining my step goal streak this year!

Wednesday was similar. I had an appointment in town so opted to walk there since it was quite a nice day. I quite like ditching the car during school holidays and getting around on foot as much as possible. Steve met me after my appointment for a lunch date as he had bought an Itison voucher for a restaurant we hadn’t been to in a long time – 2 courses and a glass of wine for a good price. I had a yummy Parma pizza followed by a crêpe with Nutella and strawberry. I can confirm it was delicious and made me feel a little bit like I was still in Paris!

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The remainder of Wednesday was fairly leisurely, but rounded off with a Skype call to be interviewed for the Tough Girl Daily podcast. It was really nice chatting to Sarah but I was just so relieved that the technology worked as we had originally scheduled the call for Tuesday but had some issues. I do love technology, but it can be a real pain when it doesn’t work!

Thursday was another beautiful day, so after a fairly relaxed morning I headed out for a walk in the afternoon. Despite living in a fairly residential part of town, there are still a number of paths and trails which are great for running and walking and I have enjoyed exploring these since we moved into our house last year. On this occasion I spotted a path I hadn’t explored before so, not being in any rush, I followed it through some trees along by a stream until it emerged into a housing development. The rest of my walk was on familiar routes, but it was nice to add something new into the mix.

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In the evening I had my Ashtanga yoga class which I was looking forward to as I knew I would feel great after a good stretch. I did notice my body a little tight at first, but by the end of the class my mobility felt almost back to normal which was a good sign. I opted to walk to yoga then met Steve afterwards as our friend Linda had promised us a takeaway and beer on the house when we got back from Paris (she has one of the longest established Chinese restaurants in the area – it’s been in the same family for three generations). This gave us a chance to try out our new novelty chopsticks which I bought at Pylones in the Carrousel du Louvre. They’ll stick an Eiffel Tower on anything these days (and the chances are I’ll buy it lol!).

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On Friday morning I had one last errand – to get my front tyres changed on my car (oh the glamour!). I dropped the car off at the garage then walked into town whilst listening to the Tough Girl Daily podcast episode which had come out that morning and featured my interview (I wanted to listen to it before I got carried away and shared it with the world, just in case!). You can find out more and listen here.

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I met Steve for a coffee then ran a few errands in town before going back for my car. I then enjoyed a leisurely afternoon before we headed out to eat. This week we were treating my parents to a meal at our usual Friday night haunt as a thank you for looking after my cat while we were away. Ordinarily I simply bring them back a gift (which I still did) but since the cat’s needs were a little more complex this time with some medications she’s been on, I wanted to make sure we showed our appreciation.

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I know I’ve mentioned my cat’s health a few times recently as for a time she wasn’t well at all due to some side effects of a chronic health condition she has developed. To be honest, I was preparing myself for the end, but thanks to some new medication, she’s doing brilliantly. She was a transformed cat when I got back from Paris which is great news! Lots of you have asked after her in your comments, so thank you.

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My standard blogging setup!

On Saturday I was on the roster to volunteer at parkrun. Putting my name down in advance ensures I don’t get carried away and decide to run, which I think could have happened otherwise since I was feeling good from the rest, yoga and walks. I was a barcode scanner which is one of my favourite jobs and it was a lovely morning.

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After parkrun Steve and I headed off to meet his brother for a coffee. Steve does this every Saturday but since I’m usually at yoga I miss out. No yoga during the school holidays meant I could invite myself along for a cup of tea and a bacon croissant. Yum!

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Checking social media over my tea, I found a few people had tagged me in a post from the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Turned out one of the pictures of me from the weekend in 2015 when I ran the 5k and 10k on Saturday followed by the half marathon and final relay leg on Sunday had been used in their Easter weekend post. Seeing that photo brought back great memories of that weekend and reminded me of all the things I love about running. Up until then I had no desire to run just yet, but after seeing that picture I could feel my mind starting to turn its attention to getting back out there again soon. That’s why recovery time is so important – it’s not just about making sure your body is ready to run again, but that your mind is too. The mental aspect of the sport is often much more important than the physical.

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Sunday marked the final chapter of our first post-marathon week. Steve went for a run since he has an event much sooner than me. While he got showered and changed I walked into town and he drove down to meet me when he was ready. The reason for this was our traditional “one week on” celebration of a marathon – breakfast out! We headed to our favourite cafe for a cooked breakfast then went for our usual Sunday coffee before heading home – me on foot to ensure I got my 10,000 steps!

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Yes, we ate it all. No, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty!

For me, this was a great recovery week – I kept moving, I stretched my body and I enjoyed some treats as well as spending time with family. During marathon training it’s easy to deny yourself treats or neglect friends/family. The post-marathon recovery period is a great time to address this. Your body isn’t going to lose a huge amount of fitness, in fact it will thank you for the time off when you return to running. When the time is right, that running will feel enjoyable rather than the chore it could be if you try to run too soon. I’m not claiming to be an expert in anything more than my own body, but if you’re struggling to work out what to do in the days after a marathon then perhaps my approach will help in some way. Whatever you do, take at least a few days off and be kind to yourself.

In my second recovery week I’ll return to work which will reinstate some routine and I’ll increase my “training” to include some light cross training (swimming and cycling at a low intensity) in addition to walking and yoga. Watch out for my post detailing how that goes.

If you’d like to read more about my recovery strategies in previous marathon cycles, then here are some links:

What is your recovery strategy?
What is your favourite post-race treat?