Respecting recovery time is a huge part of being a runner, especially when you are running ultras. Two weeks ago we just completed the biggest race of our lives. A lot of people have asked me how long I think it is going to take me to recover. The truth is I have no idea. I haven’t run for 7 days straight, 250km, 15,000m of climbing at altitude in the Alps before. I really don’t know how long it will take me to feel normal.
Every single person is different and everyone is a different place in their running journey. When you are recovering from a big event, never look at anyone other than yourself and just accept the process. I remember when I ran my first 50km, I went on a run about a week after and called my boyfriend crying to come pick me up because I didn’t think I could walk another step. And then guess what, I recovered and then I went on to run again.
My coach told me to take a solid month off any long runs after Transalpine run. And when she said that, I thought that was a bit ridiculous. But now I am two weeks post TAR and my body is still very much recovering. The muscle soreness has gone and the aches and pains have disappeared but my strength and energy hasn’t come back all the way and my stomach still feels like a bottomless pit. Take for instance today. I went for a 3 hour mountain bike ride. 2.5 hours in, my body just shut down on me. I was so hungry and felt so weak. I knew that I had pushed it too far.
I have to give myself credit though as I have been really good about honouring how crucial rest really is. I did suffer from a minor injury during the race and I am nursing back to health and the last thing I want is to create an ongoing problem. My body still feels completely exhausted and I don’t feel I have a lot of power in my body. So I am okay to just take it easy, eat right, rest enough and wait for my body to feel like normal again. I did just ask so much of it after all. I am okay with feeling completely whipped out. In fact, I am loving that I can hardly stay up past 9, that I can sleep the whole night through and that I have been so tired I have need to squeeze in a few afternoon naps here and there. When does that ever happen? In my life… never!!
And when thinking about how long a recovery should take you have to consider not only the event you just finished, but also the time and energy it took to prepare for it. When you are training hard, your body is constantly riding a high level of cortisol which actually can lower your immune system function. As soon as you rest, your body chills out and those levels start to balance out again but you are at a higher risk of developing an infection or catching a cold immediately after a challenge event. This is just another reason to kick back, relax and put your feet up after a big goal race… and why not? You’ve totally earned it! How often do you actually relax? If you are like me, probably almost never; you are either training for a big race, running a big race, or anxiously awaiting to start training again for another event.