Recovery – let’s flood the chateau

Leafing through a well-known interior design magazine recently I came across this gem of nonsense:

Layers of paint and varnish were added to build up the elegantly decayed look…Siouxsie calls the paint effect on the walls ‘flooded chateau’. It was a last minute decision – my heart was telling me I had to do it, even though the walls had been freshly plastered

And yet, rather like Siouxsie, most of our preparation is focussed on the lead up to the event we’re training for. What we need to get in place, be prepared for come race day, have trained ourselves to achieve come the race, rather than what plans might be after we’ve completed said event.

I’m reminded here of all the preparation my wife and I did prior to the birth of our first child. The books pored over, the NCT classes  attended, the discussions with the midwife. All focused on just what the birth would entail and how we (all three of us) would get through it safely.

What we were less well prepared for, was that rude awakening when we returned from hospital with our new born. We carefully set her down in the car seat, asleep, with us perched side by side on the sofa alternatively peering at her and each other.

Then came the realisation.

What do we do now?

For this we were much less prepared, and this is a generation of time, not a number of hours.

So how do we make sure we plan for the aftermath of the event we’re training for?

How does our metaphorical chateau take on our preferred aesthetic experience?

Well, critical to this, and the avoidance of a prolonged period of clunky walking (think the Wizard of Oz -Tin Man’s hesitant first steps). Preparation, which can form part of your long run training. Key to recovery is mobility and stretching, refuelling, hydration and rest.

Some of the things that have helped me in the past have included:

  • #getinthesea – Brighton offers a great opportunity to use the freezing cold surf to bring some immediate relief to exhausted legs. But it is essential to bring some other footwear for this as trying to do it bare footed as I did in my first year risks stranding yourself a few feet from the shore as your feet and legs seize up on the pebbles underfoot.
  • #changeofkit – even on the hottest days finishing can mean you will feel the cold very quickly. Layers and some compression clothing can help. Hats and hoods work well, and don’t underestimate the warming properties of the race bling (short and medal), particularly the warm glow that comes free with the race gong – you’re a five star general now!
  • #goodcarbs – aim for some protein in the first half hour after you’ve finished as this can aid muscle recovery, but the critical challenge is to replenish you’re glycogen stores which will be exhausted. This means looking at some carbs – rice, potatoes, pasta. You’ll probably be more hungry than you’ve ever expected to be and this is likely to continue for a few days as you replace the fuel stores you’ve used up. Make sure you’ve made particular plans for breakfast the day after the race, your mobility maybe restricted but you’re hunger is less likely to be so hamstrung.
  • #hydrate – much like during the race, little and often is a good tactic. With all your refuelling take it slow and replenish your fuel levels carefully. It’s worth considering some drinks that provide options to replace lost electrolytes, and enjoy a celebration as well – you’ve earnt it.
  • #stretchinandrollin – all that stuff you’ve done post long-run training. Don’t neglect it, just cos you’re done. It’s perhaps more important in the time after the race than ever. You may not be able to manage too much in the finishing area, but at least get into your usual routine the evening after. Here the longest training runs will give you clues as to where the real targets will be, remember these and target them ruthlessly in the rolling and stretching you get done post-race. Though expect those legs to be SPICY!
  • #bathelikecleopatra – a hot Epsom salts bath (15-20mins) can aid recovery, though the medal whilst obviously accompanying you in your bath, does not a great rubber duck make.
  • #nightynight – get that head down early- assuming the refuelling and rehydrating doesn’t go too far into the night, but be prepared for the hot legs as your body repairs itself.
  • #facedown – book yourself in, a couple of days after the event, for a sports massage. This can be done before you race so you get a slot in those few days. Often in runner-rich areas around key long race dates appointments go fast, so book early, to avoid disappointment.
  • #therecoverywaddle – on the days after the run do your best to get out and walk, you’ll find your legs will tire quite quickly, for me it’s my calfs that protest the most, but this helps infinitely with getting back to your regular mobility and avoids making stairs (usually down) an epic mountaineering challenge during the next week or so. A few gentle walks coupled with a massage helps get that mobility back again.
  • #laceuptherunners – although you may vow never to run again, the gentle Nan Jog is a key part of the recovery regime, though remember it can be a number of weeks before full recovery and you’ll feel tired very quickly so best kept short.

Plan your recovery into that schedule now.

Next time:

How would you sum up your look…I once described it as ‘edgy glamour with a bit of Miss Haversham thrown in’, but over the years, I’ve honed the ad-hoc nature of my approach to be more sophisticated. It’s still fun and irreverent, but also functional

Sheesh, anyone know how to get the Dambusters in?

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About Simon Tanner

Seven time marathon runner, having run Brighton x5 and London x2, finally got a London ballot place after 7 consecutive attempts. I try to write about things I'm going through / have gone through in training to help others attain their running goals.
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