I am now well into week 15 of marathon training and week 13 of eating clean by adopting a wholefoods element to my vegan lifestyle. There has been the occasional treat here and there, but 99% of the time has been mean, clean and living the dream. Without wanting to jinx too much at this time, I am feeling good.
I am planning on writing more about the training plans and strategies I have been using over the last 15 weeks and plan to share, for anyone who is interested, information about how I have done a lot of research and merged some existing plans together, incorporated strength training, core training, yoga and various different types of runs with my own race nutrition plan to effectively create my own training schedule which really seems to be hitting the spot.
But I have decided that I am going to do this after the marathon, as I think that will be a more appropriate time to talk about training schedules and how effective they are, as the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Ultimately, in this case, that pudding is the training plan and the proof it worked will come from completing the marathon and in a pretty decent time. I think then I will be better placed to talk about it and analyse and reflect on the outcome.
But one other area I have worked hard on, and which I think also seems to be working pretty well, is the recovery aspect of my training and, although it does link into the overall training plan, it is an element which stands slightly on the side of this and so I wanted to talk a bit about that here.
In this blog, I am going to outline what I do for recovery after a long run. My long runs always take place on a Sunday and have got up to 21 miles in distance and will not get any longer before M-Day. In fact, I am shortly about to start the taper which I am both excited and terrified about in equal parts.
Stretching and Yoga
Replace The Electrolytes
Being an advocate of wholefoods, I like to stick as closely to this with every element of my lifestyle, including training. Instead of drinking shop-bought recovery drinks I make my own, by combining equal parts fresh orange juice and water and adding some salt. I love the taste and I know exactly what is in it. Drinking this, along with plenty of water, is a must for my recovery. I usually do the yoga first and then get onto hydration.
Next up is the dreaded ice bath. Yes, I do have an ice bath for as long as I can stand it after every long run. I am convinced this is the key to effective recovery. Given that my hamstrings and glutes are my problem area and are taking a lot of my focus in order to strengthen them, I think that by putting them in the ice bath for about 10 minutes helps keep them loose and makes my recovery run on a Monday morning closer to a stroll in the park than a hard slog through treacle.
After I have had a wash, getting all that grit, grime and salt off me and I am nice and clean, I always put on a pair of knee high compression socks and wear these for a good few hours as I go about the rest of my Sunday afternoon.
Beet and Cherry Juice
I have read a lot about beet juice and how, because it contains nitrates, it can help to open the blood vessels and help blood flow more freely around the body. I love beetroot and eat it a good few times a week anyway, but hadn’t really thought about it in terms of boosting sports performance. Then as I read more around this, I discovered articles about cherry juice and how it can reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and muscle damage after intensive workouts because it contains anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant from what I believe. So, after my long runs I always have a small bottle of beet and cherry juice, which I buy at the health food store, and not only is it delicious and like a little treat but I think it is doing me the world of good.
Refueling after a long run is super important and I almost always have the same thing, as I love it and I know it works for me – sauteed spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms (and sometimes some beans) along with avocado on a piece of spelt toast and a fruit salad on the side. The bread is one of those little treats I mentioned and makes up the 1% of things I eat in a week which isn’t a wholefood, but it is organic and salt free, so it isn’t too bad! But I find that this combination of food is a good mix of carbohydrates from the fruit and bread, protein from the spinach and beans and fat from the avocado. Later in the day I will have a normal meal, whatever that may be, and then will be right back on track.
Foam Roll and Massage
I love my foam roller. I don’t use it as much as I really, truly should, I must admit, but I do use it regularly, along with a tennis ball underfoot for targeted pressure. I have also recently started getting professional sports massages from an actual human being and these are amazing as well, but are of course quite expensive and not something I can do every week. The foam roller acts as my own personal masseuse which I can use any time in the comfort of my own home and, oddly, I don’t find it painful, I find the sensation soothing and somewhat enjoyable…not sure what that says about me?!
So there you have it. This is my recovery plan for after a long run. On any other given day, I make sure to hydrate well, stretch and refuel after finishing my workout but my Sunday routine is much more prescribed and regimented, and so far seems to be working out well…watch this space…