Recovery is hard

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recovery is a strange thing. I will be the first to admit, I’ve never really been great at it. In fact, I probably really suck (and that’s now a proven fact). Coming to a full stop is very, very difficult for me. I knew I would have to take some time off after Western States, but I didn’t know exactly what that would entail. 1 week? 2 weeks? 4? I certainly hoped it wouldn’t be that long, but recognized it as a possibility. However, recognizing something as a possibility is entirely different from allowing it to become a reality. So in the week immediately after Western, I was content to not run. I could hardly walk. My knees were a wreck and everything hurt. But that didn’t stop me from going on a run/hike with Rachelle that first Wednesday, which was a terrible, terrible idea. I was reduced to walking backwards on the downhills and walking pretty much the rest of the time. Next year, I won’t make that mistake. However, another 4 days off was about all I found I could handle without running. Not having a good bike to ride doesn’t help either, and I’m hoping to rectify that situation in the next couple of weeks, but I digest (har har). So come Monday (a whole 8 days after states), I was back out there. I managed 4 miles with some decent climbing and my body didn’t fall apart. That gave me courage to continue throughout the week (5 days totaling 29 miles), but when I look back on it, I realize my legs, and especially my knees, weren’t feeling any better during that time. They weren’t getting worse, but they certainly weren’t improving. So I forced myself to take Saturday and Sunday off. Monday found me feeling a lot better and I was able to run 9 solid miles in SF, but come Tuesday, I was sore and stiff again. So I took 3 more days off (ARE YOU SEEING A PATTERN YET?!) and didn’t run until Friday, when I felt really good on an easy 8 miles around Westwood. Then, on Saturday, Rachelle and I ran 12 in Rancho Bernardo, including a 1000+ ft. climb and descent and I was pretty pleased with how things felt, especially on the descent. Sunday, I went an easy 5 around Balboa Island and felt pretty close to normal. I’ve been back at nearly normal mileage so far this week and am feeling better with each day. I’m also making myself cry nightly on the foam roller, but I can feel immediate benefits from my time on it, so I keep rolling away.

Looking back at the fitful recovery, I know a lot of it was due to not knowing what was coming. It’s hard to prepare for the unknown, and that’s true in races as well as recovery. I was also looking around at some of the other guys and girls who raced and seeing that they seemed to be recovering faster than I was. Social media is a huge culprit in this, as people are always posting their adventures and it just reinforced the fact that I wasn’t out there. So I felt like I needed to be at their level, even though they had raced this distance before and their bodies were more familiar with the demands of the event. That’s silly. If there’s one thing I know (now more than ever), it’s that everybody is different, especially in recovery. So next time, I promise to listen to my body better. I won’t push coming back until I feel like I’m ready. Admittedly, having the SF marathon 4 weeks after States also played a role in me trying to come back earlier, but that’s something that I can change by simply not signing up. As it stands, however, I’m feeling pretty darn good this week and am looking forward to the race on Sunday. I’ve got no expectations and I am giving myself permission to drop out should my legs start feeling badly. Either way, I’ll be at the VIP party afterwards taking full advantage of the mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and beer. If you’re racing, hope to see you out there!

About afvarner

Runner. Donuts. Sneakerhead. Not necessarily in that order. Nike Trail Elite. Picky Bars. Gu. Vicory Sportdesign.
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5 Responses to Recovery is hard

  1. You bring up a really good point about social media’s role in both motivation as well as it’s potential for injury causing. Being so connected to everyone’s training and schedule all of the time can sometimes lead to forgetting to stick to yours.

    Great read – I’m glad you’re back to rocking’ the trails!

  2. Rachel B says:

    Glad to hear you’re mostly back to normal! It’s actually kind of refreshing to hear how long it took – that’s a gnarly race and you crushed it! I feel like you’d be inhuman not to need some recovery after that. I read Ashley Arnold was experiencing some adrenal fatigue post LT100, so I definitely think letting yourself fully heal even if that’s slow is best in the long run. Thanks for the post

  3. Pingback: Daily News, Fri, July 25

  4. afvarner says:

    Thanks guys! Appreciate it. Had another setback yesterday, of course. IT band is a fickle beastie.

  5. David Jon Henry says:

    Take your time man. You had a great race and these 100s can be a beast to recover from. I ran my first one at Bighorn this year and even though I’d done almost 20 ultras before Bighorn, was blown away how long it took to recover from the 100 as opposed to a 50 miler. 50s were taking maybe just 1 week of light running to feel back to pretty good. Felt good 2 weeks after the 100, but 3 week was a wreck with tons of fatigue and low motivation (adrenal issues?)…tried to do a track workout that week and it was downright comical; thankfully after backing off for 3-4 days, this week things are coming around nicely and nearly feel back to normal with a good track workout yesterday. Hang in there and listen to you body.

    Take care,


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