I read something this morning that jolted me. The marathon Olympic Trials are in two weeks. That is really soon. When I signed up for California International Marathon, I knew the turnaround time until the trials would be short, but seeing it on paper like that was disconcerting. I have no illusions that I might make the Olympics; unless of course, all the top contenders don't show up. But, I would like to have a race within the bigger race. A race amongst the middle of the packers looking to improve their times, have a respectable day out and be a part of history.
I have no idea, really, how long it takes to recover from a marathon. Every person needs a different amount of recovery from a race, and even within individuals recovery will vary depending on how the race unfolded. Finishing a race in which you cramped badly will garner a longer recovery than a race that went smoothly. My calves seized up at the end of CIM and not surprisingly these are the muscles that have been slowest to bounce back.
I didn’t run for a week, but I swam, walked, ellipticalled and started back at the gym. This was a more aggressive plan than after the LA marathon in March, but I felt good last week and I kept the intensity low and the duration short. When I finally did run, it felt stale and slow (so slow that Diesel the dog kept imploring me to run faster by going in front and pulling me) but yesterday I actually felt quite peppy despite the cold temperature. The gym workouts are incredibly necessary, as there is still some re-building to do from the rib injury. I am hoping that what I lack in running between these races I can make up for with added strength and further healing from the injury.
Non-training aspects of recovery are also imperative. I have been sleeping and eating a lot. The extra rest has been helpful, although it has been odd sleeping later and not having the accountability of morning workouts. I have embraced this extra sleepy time, especially since it is so cold and dark. In terms of diet, I included two meals of red meat for iron, lots of veggies every day, plenty of V8 juice for electrolytes, as well some of my favorite sweets – because if you can’t enjoy junk food after a good race, when can you? I also started taking fish oil which is supposed to help with inflammation.
Massage has been an integral part of my recovery for my entire triathlon career, so I am used to massage discomfort. Nothing prepared me for my first post-CIM massage. I felt like I was being attacked, my muscles were so tight and swollen they did not welcome sharp elbows and strong hands trying to calm them down. The massage, coupled with dry needling, ultrasound and stretching, eventually allowed my aching muscles to relax and within the week the hobbling slowly morphed into regular walking. Compression socks have become a regular wardrobe accessory. They go great with jeans and fit nicely under boots. I know that ice baths come highly recommended, but it is winter and I am already cold without stepping into a mound of ice.
I still have no idea how the next few weeks will unfold. All I can do is listen to my body (and my coach) and hope for the best.
Editor's Note: Joanna Zeiger is a scientist, triathlon coach, and a 70.3 Ironman World Champion triathlete. You more of her current writing at her most excellent blog Fast at Forty.