Recovery is part of the journey
Much is said about recovery. This is largely because there is no single way to recover after a run. Each person must find what works for them: the art of recovery.
I’ll share some brief thoughts in the form of top tips, off the back of September’s upandrun along the North Wales Path. But, bear in mind what I have just said about the individual nature of recovery.
1. Recovery stops during an ultra
When I run, I now always opt for normal foods rather than gels and the like. This can include any of the following, depending upon the stage of the run: fruit, pasta, sweets, ginger beer, nuts, seeds, flapjacks, a bagel, samosa, coffee, water.
On the longer runs, rest and recovery stops are important for me. On solos, they are fairly brief, but nonetheless, there is relief in sitting down for a few minutes and having a bite to eat.
This is in keeping with my running philosophy that is just for me: finish line, not finish time. I want to fully experience the journey, enjoying the ride as much as I can. There is no rush for me. I am not interested in times, instead just building my belief that ‘I can’ in life.
2. Immediately at the end of an ultra
I enjoy a pizza and a beer.
The most memorable was ending up in Bath one evening, having run down from Gloucester along The Cotswold Way. It had been a pretty foul day and off the back of a period of serious rain in the UK. You can imagine the state I was in….
They were most welcoming in Pizza Express despite my appearance. I was served quickly. Looking back, this may have been so that I left promptly!
3. Recovery takes a little while
The things you do to recover span a period of time. It is an on-going process until you feel back to normal: homeostasis is the goal.
Choose your fuel and sources of hydration according to your needs. It can be a bit up and down after an ultra.
For instance, I will feel hungry and eat. Then feel a bit queasy. And then hungry again and so on.
Whatever you do to recover then, be complete and see it through. This could of course include all of the elements I discuss.
This might just be the most important one.
Understanding sleep as arguably the keystone of wellness, creating a good habit is vital for recovery and performance at all levels of participation.
Unfortunately, in the modern era, sleep has taken a back seat. For some reason, a lack of sleep has been championed as some kind of machismo feat: I can work for 23 hours a day….how incredible am I? I can be out all night and then carry on….
But it is not. What that is, is a one way ticket to poor performance and health. And probably a shorter life. There are some brutal facts. But we know that people don’t always like to pay attention to the facts.
Bottom line. Try to get the best quality sleep (7-8 hours) as many nights as you can.
5. A special ingredient
When we pay attention, we can realise that there might just be one ingredient that makes a difference. On that, I have made a recent discovery.
CBD oil and balm.
Having had a good chat with Celine from Wholy Me, I was happy to try the drops and balm as part of my daily routine and recovery.
Acknowledging that it is a case study of one, me, I have been taking the drops each day, and massaging the balm as required into sore bits.
I finished the ultra on Monday evening, having started the previous night at 1030pm. My watch told me that I had been going for 18 and a half hours, covering some 120k.
It was time to recover.
Yesterday I was running again, albeit an easy pace and concentrating on form. I like to do this anyway: a slow run (speaking pace), focusing on being relaxed and tall.
I am fortunate to recover seemingly quickly after an ultra. Perhaps because of my monthly jaunts since May 2019.
But this appeared to be quicker than ever. Was it the CBD routine? One cannot say for sure. Expectations also play a significant role, and I do expect to be moving almost normally by day two.
So, I will continue with the CBD as part of my daily rituals alongside other habits: cold shower in the morning, various supplements, mindful practice, movement, attendance to fuel and hydration, and sleep to name a few.
For it is the small things behind the scenes, accumulating their effects each day that make the difference.
Just in case you are wondering, I do believe that the CBD is making a difference to me.
6. Bonus: motion is lotion
It is tempting to stay still and rest. But it is movement we need to nourish the muscles, joints, nerves and more.
Easy movements, getting up, changing position, trying to maintain best form, and being regular are all important for recovery.
They are also vital day to day because the way we use our body will shape its form. And it is that form you take into running and other activities.
If you sit for long periods, parts of your body will tighten. You will then try to move those parts vigorously in sports causing adaptation and excess strain. This is one of the major reasons for the gradual onset of pain and sensitivity.
The body also keeps a record of every emotion and experience you have. We must look after ourselves as a whole if we want to perform.