Sunday, January 22, 2012

Post Marathon Recovery

Recovery is a word that the hard core triathlete and distance runner can often bristle at. It evokes concerns over time, aging, performance and preparation toward the next event. Working with all levels of accomplishment in running and triathlon gives me a window into seeing how recovery occurs for many athletes across a wide variety of ages and competitive levels. Below is a quick primer and some thoughts on recovery for your next race or athletic event.

1. Think about recovery before the race or event: Since recovery begins as soon as you cross the finish line of a race or as soon as the clock time expires, your plan for recovery has to be in place prior to your event.

2. When you finish a race or triathlon do not stop moving for at least 10 minutes. This can include walking, stretching, slow jogging etc. This gradual decrease of activity toward a rest state allows blood pressure and heart rate to normalize gradually and also allows the body to also begin the process of removing lactic acid and other "debris" of aerobic and anaerobic cellular function.

A liquid drink combining protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes (including salt) should be consumed within the first 30 minutes post race. There is great debate on ratios of these components in the drink, but I will not deal with that here. For now the key is getting a drink in with these contents into the digestive system inside 30 after finish. Liquid is greatly preferred over solid intake because of transit time in digestion and speed at which it crosses the wall of small intestine.

3. Light stretching of the entire lower extremity and torso musculature within the first 60 minutes post race.

4. Continuing to move, anywhere from 10-15 minutes per hour for the rest of that waking day. Laying down, in complete immobility, for hours at a time will significantly impair inflammation reduction and recovery times.

5. Restore intracellular and extracellular hydration by taking a full mouthful of water every five minutes -10 minutes throughout next 2 days while monitoring urine clarity for indications of proper hydration.

6. Schedule massage and/or chiropractic visit on day 2-3 post race, unless injury was suffered, to balance and restore normal bio mechanical function. This helps athlete get back to training more quickly following intense physical stress. If an injury was suffered, scheduling sooner would be indicated. I don't believe that you have to do this but I see in the athletes that I treat that they recover faster with this pattern of care.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year and New Adventures

Many of my patients and friends know that I began training for Triathlon exactly one year ago. I have learned quite a bit about training for the three disciplines of swim, bike and run. I have now run 2 half marathons, 1 marathon, 2 sprint triathlons, one half Ironman distance triathlon, a five mile race and a 5k or two. This will be the first of a weekly post that I will write as I train up to my first Full Ironman race in May of this year.

If you are new to triathlon I hope you will come back and read again. I will be posting things in my blog that will be helpful to beginner and expert triathletes. These postings will sometimes come from my personal learning's from my own training. Sometimes the blog posts will come from my experience of treating runners and triathletes for 12 years, from struggling adults and age groupers to professional triathletes/distance runners and elite high school and college 5 and 10ker's.

This post today will be about trusting your training plan.

Many of my friends and patients that are being trained by a coach, mentor or even themselves, often have questions or doubts that arise during the training or competition season about their training plan. I have even seen this myself with my occasional doubt about my training plan. I find that with most of that doubt or questioning, the underlying emotion is fear. Yes fear of whatever. Fear of failure, fear of injury, fear of over training/under training, fear of not progressing as fast as expectations, fear of others opinions about training plans, fears resulting from comparisons to others training plans etc etc etc.

In my line of work, when I work with endurance athletes, I work with them holistically. This piece falls squarely in the mental/emotional aspects of endurance training. I have found that when we experience and entertain any of the fears/worries that I mentioned, that energy/emotional drain does the following:

1. It reduces the disposable amount of energy that we have to put into our training plan or competition.
2. It keeps us, as athletes, from being fully present with what we are doing TODAY with our training etc.
3. Regular fear or worry taxes the adrenal glands and can lead to adrenal fatigue and increased cortisol levels. With the adrenals fatigued and cortisol levels high the body will retain systemic inflammation, excess weight and fat % and will break down easier under stress. Also recovery will be slowed because inflammation cannot be extinguished readily.
4. It decreases our trust in the person or people, whose sole goal is to help us accomplish our desired result during that training year.

There are many other things that could be listed above, but to me these are the most important. Now by writing what I have above, I am not advocating sticking your head in the sand and simply blindly following a training plan without discussing it with your coach or mentor. You and your selected coach or mentor are a team that experiences success together.

As you ramp up your training schedule consider staying more present, which in turn reduces worry and fear. If that doesn't do it alone there are many in office sports psychology tools we can use to get you there.