April 20, 2012

Accelerated Marathon Recovery and Upcoming Racing Plans

Its only been about 4 days since Boston, but I definitely don't feel like I ran a marathon earlier this week. I have zero muscle soreness or tightness. But considering how things in Boston went down, its not that surprising - muscle damage wasn't the limiting factor in the race. The heat (and metabolic shutdown) was really what slowed me (and 99.9% of everyone else) down.

I'm hoping that the silver lining in the "Boston Massacre" is that I'll be able to bounce back quickly and run some good races in the early summer months. Once I crossed the finish line on Monday, I immediately starting doing things to accelerate my recovery...

As soon as I got to the tent I wrapped myself up in ice packs (partly to cool down, but also to reduce inflammation in my feet/legs). It was challenging to get down fluids, but I still drank about 80oz of Gatorade in the 60 minutes after the race. I really wanted to make sure I was re-hydrated and back in a state of electrolyte balance as soon as possible. I also got a massage to try and clear some of the junk out of my legs, and not let them stiffen up too much.

It was hard to eat for the 4-5 hours after the race, but once I got my appetite back, I started putting down some calories, including plenty of foods with high protein content to help the muscle repair process. Foot strike hemolysis is something that takes place on a big scale during the marathon, so I've been adamant about getting extra iron this week. For the last 4 days, I've taken about 100mg per day of iron supplements, and eaten a good amount of lean red meat and other iron-rich foods like spinach.

In terms of exercise, I ran 5 miles very slowly (didn't break 9:30/mile pace) the day after the race because I think its important to go through the range of motion and get the blood flowing. I actually took a complete rest day on Wednesday (first day off since last July, and maybe the second day I've taken off in about 18 months). The last 2 days I've just done easy (8:30-9:00/mile pace) 4-5 mile jogs. I'm sticking to my plan of "no runs over 60 minutes" for the next week, and then I'll evalaute how I'm feeling and decide how to proceed from there. For now I am running by "feel" and keeping my heart rate very low.

Sleep is always crucial for recovery. The night after the marathon was tough because adrenaline was still high, but since then I'm back to my normal routine of sleeping 8-9 hours per night. Additionally, I've been wearing compression socks and sleeves nonstop.

Basically, everything boils down to the "Is this stupid?" test. If whatever you are doing in the 1-2 weeks after the marathon can be viewed in any way, shape, or form as stupid, then you shouldn't do it.

I have 3 big events on my calendar for the early summer:

-Boulder Bolder 10K
-Portland Track Festival 
(10K and maybe 5K as well)
-USA Half-Marathon Championships

Its going to be a lot of traveling to some fun places! I'm hoping to use the fitness I've built up this winter/spring and use it as a springboard to train more specifically for shorter races. Its time to really drop the 5K/10K/HM PRs!

I have a LOT more pictures from Boston that I'll post next week, along with a cool recap of our visit to Saucony's headquarters.

Tomorrow Andrea is racing the SLC 1/2 Marathon - so its already back to the races for us!


  1. Awesome read Jake thanks for sharing your insights on recovery. I surely have not done it right after my other marathons and hope to be smarter this time around.

  2. I feel like I got lucky after both marathons last year - I just sort of winged it and ran more than I knew I should have. I probably dodged a few bullets :-)

    This time around, I'm really trying to make sure I recover 100% and can be back running full steam ahead in a few weeks.

  3. Thanks for the recovery tips! I have been growing curious about this!

  4. I'm sure you'll bounce back very quickly Jake. You've got a ton of quality work on those legs. Can't wait to see how your shorter stuff goes. Some PRs for sure coming up!

  5. I bounced back very rapidly this race, too. This morning I felt no soreness at all, but I realize that this is probably because I added 18 minutes to my marathon time! Didn't really stress the body out! I don't like flying out right after a race, though; it leaves me stiff.
    Thanks for the reminder about iron. I usually crave red meat after a tough marathon, but since this one was slower I didn't really crave anything. I'll go make a spinach salad right now.

  6. I think that while we may have all (who ran slower) experienced less muscle damage, there was still quite a metabolic cost - electrolytes, iron, etc. Especially for females, you gotta keep those iron levels up. I have very good ferritin to begin with, and I've been taking 2 iron pills + a multivitamin every day this week. I'll taper that back next week, but its probably better to err on the side of taking a little more this week.

  7. Thank you for sharing your tips Jake, they are really helpful. I am running my second marathon on May 13, but first that I will be pushing really hard. You did great job in Boston, I am praying for us not to get such a heat. Good luck with your races, your form, training and attitude are amazing! You and Andrea are great inspiration!!!