Recovery 101 : After the Marathon

Alexander LakhanpalAfter months of preparation, it’s finally happened. You have successfully completed an arduous marathon and it’s time for your body to begin the process of recovery. So what does this look like? Well the recovery periods vary for everyone, but there are certain things to look out for and pay attention to regardless of your age, fitness level, and injuries. However, I would strongly suggest that you consult your physician or trainer to help determine what course of recovery is best for you.

Step 1 : Immediately Following the Race

Because you have just expended so much energy, immediately following the race your core temperature will begin to drop really quickly. Therefore make sure that you bundle up immediately. Along those same lines, replenishing what you have lost is important. Although there will likely be some fanfare immediately following the race, make a point to grab a handful of healthful snacks (like raw almonds) to begin the refueling process. You many not feel that hungry so make sure to bring some food with you. Also, although you have been drinking water throughout the race, make a point to drink some more. You don’t want to get dehydrated. Also stretch it out a little bit before you cool down. Once you get back to your room, take an ice bath with cold water for fifteen minutes. Ideally the temperature will be at fifty five degrees, but really anything under sixty five degrees will do the trick. After you get out of your ice bath, feel free to take a nap, walk around and loosen the legs a bit. Most importantly, just relax you have more than earned it!

Step 2: The Week After

The week following a marathon can be very physically taxing, but there are certain things to remember that will help you get through it. First of all, don’t work out during the three days following. Your body has been through a lot, and your muscles are only beginning to repair the damage from the run. Make a point to soak in a hot tub for ten to fifteen minutes to help loosen your muscles and increase blood flow through the body. Following the hot tub, lightly massage your muscles (very gently). Make a point to continue to fuel up by eating fruits, carbs and protein. Your body is repairing itself and needs the proper ingredients to do this successfully.

During days four to seven make sure that you continue to maintain a healthy diet. Make sure that you are eating enough food and that you are making choices that will truly help you recover. At this point it is perfectly fine to engage in deep tissue massage. Also, take contrast baths. Contrast baths include sitting in a cold bath followed by a warm bath for intermittent periods of 5 minutes. You do this series two to three times and end with the cold bath. The point of contrast baths is to enhance blood flow to your legs.  Prior to going to bed, take an epsom salt bath a

an hour before bed then massage your legs out with a stick or your own hands. Make sure to then stretch and relax. 

Step 3 : Days 7 to 14

During this time you can start to exercise again, but make sure that you are easing yourself back into it. Only exercise for 3 to 4 days this week. An easy four to 6 mile jog so do the trick. Continue to treat your body well, and remember that your immune system is still very vulnerable right now so take it easy.

Step 4 : Days 14 to 21

Continue to be vigilant about any potential injuries. Feed your body healthy foods and don’t push yourself too hard. This is a great time to slowly transition back into your routine, but really listen to what your body is telling you.

As always, do your research, and consult your physician with any questions or persistent  problems. For more information about recovery, see some ideas here.

The Day of the Race : Marathon Prep

alex lakhanpalWith New York City abuzz with the excitement of the impending New York City Marathon, it’s no surprise that part of that electricity stems from the communal sense of anxiety felt by tomorrow’s runners. The feeling of excitement is almost palpable. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to go over steps that (any) marathon runners can take in order to reduce nerves and focus on a good run when it comes to a marathon.

Reduce Route Surprises

If you live in the same city as the marathon, make a point to incorporate the course into your training. If that’s not possible, find out the specifics of the route and try to simulate those same conditions when training. This will help eliminate surprises in your endurance or in how you feel during the day of the actual marathon.

Plan Your Day

If you are traveling to a new city for the marathon, take time before your trip to plan out your itinerary. Leave enough time to get into the city so that you will be able to have a good night’s sleep before the day of the race. Also, look at your schedule for any down time. Quiet time can often lead to undue stress or anxiety about the marathon, so make sure that you bring distractors to fill this time. That could mean reading a book or magazine, or just having your phone ready for some Sudoku.

Wear earplugs

Another important way to prepare for the marathon is to bring earplugs. The yelling from the crowd can definitely be inspiring, but it can also lead to you unintentionally increasing your pace in the beginning of the marathon. You don’t want to do that because you will likely burn out when you need your strength most later on. Conserve your energy and start a bit slower than you think you need to. Additionally, leave those earplugs in to help avoid audio distractions while you are running. However, when you come to those difficult parts on the route, make a point to take them out so that you can hear the encouragement from the onlookers. Take advantage of the fact that they are cheering you on!

While consistent training is another necessary component to performing well during a marathon, these tips will help you get through those day of jitters!

Beginner’s Guide to Running a Marathon

Alex LakhanpalIt’s no secret, running is a physical activity that yields numerous benefits to the mind and body. From strengthening your lungs and cardiovascular system, to controlling your weight to strengthening your immune system to regulating your overall mental health – running is a great element to incorporate into your lifestyle.

If It’s Not Broken, Why Fix It?

If running is so wonderful on its own, then one might wonder what the point is of running in a marathon. Marathon running can be dangerous when it comes to aggravating otherwise minor injuries. It’s also known for taking a toll on the knees and other joints due to the constant repetitive motion and impact. Also, there is always the potential for dehydration and painful recovery after the race. With all of that in mind, running a marathon may seem like an ill advised idea. However, there are a number of benefits to running a marathon, and there are a few key ways to prepare for a marathon.

The Benefits of Marathon Running

While marathon running bears all of the expected benefits that you would also find just from running, there are a few additions to the list as well. An article from The Wall Street Journal claims that there are long-term health benefits from competing in marathons over time. Benefits from long-distance running include a lowered risk of eye and prostate disorders and significant improvements in one’s cardiovascular health. It is believed that these benefits are due to the training that competitive marathoners undergo regularly. In this case it seems as though the marathon is the signifier of a particular type of healthy lifestyle that leads to all of these long-term benefits.

How to Get Started and Stick With It

Although it’s fairly easy to come up with a workout regiment to train for your first marathon, the hardest parts usually involve sticking with the plan, and taking care of your body for such a sustained amount of time beforehand. However, there are certain things to keep in mind and strive for when you have decided that you want to participate in a marathon. First and foremost, have a reason for running. This may not seem like a necessity, but in those moments when you want to quit, you need to be able to focus on a reason that will convince you to continue on. So come up with a good one! Another thing to keep in mind is that you should only compare yourself to you. When it comes to your running times, where you are in the race, how you are feeling or how you look, use your past runs and trainings as a measuing stick…never look to others for this.  And finally, keep it fun. There’s no reason to get too intense about running.