Recovery – the process of becoming well again after illness, of getting something back, of becoming successful or normal again after problems, the act of improvement.
Recovery is as intricate and important as training.
It’s different for everyone, some will walk away from races feeling fine and go straight back into training. Others may feel a lot worse, need even less intensity and longer to recover – this however is me, another chapter to Building Em.
Sunday – The first day of my recovery post Ultra!
I didn’t sleep well, waking every time I needed to turn over as my legs had stiffened. My fiancé explained I’d had what can only be described as restless leg motion overnight…presumably my body trying to ward of muscular stiffness as I slept. Sleep is so so vital to aide recovery and so I made sure to have a lie in. Trying to get up to walk to the bathroom was more than difficult, my legs felt like lead. Once up I had another 6minute ice bath before showering, then massaging my legs.
I felt queasy but hungry and so had toast, honey and a banana to settle my stomach. After posting my blog I did a good foam rolling session, gently working over all of my legs and into my hips. Then went and got my yoga mat. I caught up with my day eleven practice, Courage…which had a fantastic hip release near the end and left my legs feeling warm and free. Then did Yoga For Blood Flow to help my circulation along.
After lunch I just felt drained and so put myself to bed for just over an hour, then made the decision to clean and dress my blister so I could spend the afternoon in my compression socks.
Monday – Thankfully I slept better, but I was stiff again on getting up. I warmed up as if I was going for a run, then set off to try and walk.
I had a beautiful walk in the morning mist, I met a lady I regularly run past and talked to her…making her cry when we discussed my cancer story as she’d lost her Mum to breast cancer.
I barely managed to walk/shuffle 2K!
I had a good morning at work, we were very busy but I felt focused and aware. I’m starting to feel as if things are flowing better, as if I’m remembering more too and that feels like such an achievement.
I made soup for lunch, and enough for the following few days…I just wanted something comforting. While it cooked I caught up with my yoga practice and did Day 12…curate – acknowledging that it is you that creates your own happiness and so give yourself time for that. Plus Day 13 – space…opening up more and giving better space in poses aswell as in thought and breath. Both with amazing hip opening and leg stretching. It made me tired but my achy legs felt alive and warm again.
Mid-afternoon I went to a local therapist and had a wonderful Swedish massage. I walked out feeling like I’d been given new legs!
Tuesday – I slept badly again but on standing and moving I realised how much less tight everything felt.
It was another beautiful morning, warmer and drier than Monday.
I actually felt like I walked instead of shuffling and by the time I got home I’d achieved 3K. I’d come back over the fields so that the grass would cushion my steps. My quads were still sore slightly on downhill sections but overall weren’t too bad.
I felt tired when I arrived at work but actually once it’d got into my morning tasks I felt okay, it was only after leaving that the tiredness hit me again. I got home and had a chat with an old friend before completing day 14 of my yoga practice…Grace, giving yourself grace after creating space and being more accepting of yourself – something we all need.
I had over an hour in bed in the afternoon before watering and pottering around the garden…I’d managed our stairs twice without thinking, almost without flinching!
I gave both legs a good massage aswell as foam rolling. While I could still feel discomfort when pressure was applied, there was barely any when moving.
The evening saw me make a big realisation and a big decision! While looking at future race dates and my diary I realised that I hadn’t had a running break since August 2018! As a general rule it’s felt 3-4 weeks a year should be taken out in order to fully aide recovery and make the body stronger. You don’t start to lose fitness until between 7-10 days out so there’s no concern in taking a week off here and there – you have to service the machine in order for it to perform at its best. It was a no brainer, a miracle I’d been able to get my body to perform how it has all this time without injury, plus the best time to do it. Decision made…no running until Saturday.
Wednesday – I woke to a sharp pain in my stomach and the feeling of discomfort, while doing a bit of research last week I’d read that undertaking such a run can aggravate your GI tract but I’d expected the end result sooner…the reaction took away the pain but left me feeling washed out, then sore again.
I felt tired as I walked but was determined to get out, refresh myself and enjoy the morning – and it was a beautiful morning. I found cows to stop and speak to, the sun rising out the clouds, and flowers just starting to bloom…telling me summer is only just starting.
Once home the ache in my tummy was getting worse, I could barely stand to have my banana with my porridge but made sure to, knowing the nutrients in it would help ease my GI tract issue. At work thankfully I got stuck into posting BACs and so could mask the discomfort…I didn’t want them to think, or worry, that something was wrong – it was but was completely self inflicted and just needed to be dealt with.
I’m trying to stick to getting out once a week after work for lunch, plus to test myself and my ability to do things during a day. I’d a couple of pots in the garden which needed either new planting or care and so I headed to the garden centre.
I found a beautiful copper fennel. I know how large it may get and the thought of being able to use the fronds, but also the seeds it will produce, meant it was a must. I also found a bronze grass, quite sculptured and tall…all I could think was how beautiful it will look come winter! The garden centre has a lovely cafe and so I decided I’d have lunch there. While stood waiting…having already eyeballed the courgette and spinach soup, my head fell in love with the look of the carrot cake. I forgot sensibility and the fact my body needs very healthy nutrients, the discomfort in my stomach that wouldn’t thank me for anything rich…I’m all about a balanced diet and I hadn’t had anything sweet since Saturday so I ordered a slice.
The soup was divine…I could have climbed in the bowl to clean it out kind of divine! But the cake…I have never put cake in my mouth and actually retched before…it tasted amazing but every bit of the rest of me went “no don’t”. But I’d paid for it and I hate waste, so it took me half an hour to force each mouthful in. By the time I got home I was in agony, once relieved of it I had a large glass of water with an electrolyte tablet in and set to planting my fennel. Thankfully the grass needed soaking before potting as I’d not the energy to finish what I was doing. I put myself to bed instead.
A couple of hours sleep helped but my stomach was still tender. I did day 15 of my yoga practice – Reveal…finding out about you – in my case that yoga with a sore tummy is doable and it eased things a bit.
My engagement ring had arrived from the jewellers earlier in the day, I waited until my fiancé got home before opening the package. It’s beautiful, just what was wanted and means the world.
We didn’t celebrate but we did have a delicious pasta dish for dinner which eased my stomach a little, however I still went to bed uncomfortable.
Thursday – My legs on getting up felt great, that great I did dither for a few minutes wondering about putting my shorts on for a run instead of walking…but remembered that the break from running would be more beneficial than pushing my body.
My stomach was still playing up, that bad that I had to have another full electrolyte tablet in water before I went walking. I even picked up a cereal bar to eat as I walked incase I started to feel faint. My tummy may have been off but the legs just went, I walked 4.73K in the same time it took me to walk 1.25K on Monday!
I felt very low all morning and it helped being at work, chatting to my colleagues, learning new things. Once home I actually felt quite lonely and so did day 16 of my yoga practice (Dulce…a sweet treat and massage, deep breathing and slow yoga moves) before having lunch in the garden where I could listen to the workmen.
I planted my grass and tidied the garden a little before going back indoors.
My stomach had calmed slightly but I felt drained and had a good hours sleep.
I’m researching running events for next year and the back end of this year, I’d love to do a 5K this year…I haven’t a medal for that distance and I feel that it’s right somehow to do both the longest and shortest I’ve even done, both in one year!
Friday – With wanting to go for a run Saturday morning staying off my legs seemed like a better idea, but I also didn’t want to overdo anything. I spent half an hour doing upper body training and then day 17 of my yoga practice – learn…learning what I’m capable of and how to tune into how I feel.
I had a great morning at work, yet again though it felt odd knowing that I wouldn’t be going back in the following day…my new normal is going well but it is as if I can’t quite process weekends properly. It helps that I have my long run and a diary that usually has one of the two days filled. It feels difficult doing well at one thing but struggling with something so small and silly.
The nicest bit of the day was coming home and not to an empty house for a change. I got the whole afternoon with my fiancé, resting and reading. I also booked my 5K run – come 17th November I’ll be proudly drawing on a moustache to run my first Mo Run.
Saturday – What a difference a week makes!
Only a week before I was getting up to run my first 50K Ultra Marathon…no expectations, just a desire to finish…and I did. That medal was very well earned, all those I have tell a story but that one tells the biggest…so far!
My recovery plan said 1hr of running, no distance goal, just a nice run and a time to work to. I did however gauge that in that hour I’d manage either 5K or up to 8K and so only a snack was needed, not my usual full long distance breakfast. My stomach was a lot better but I didn’t want to jinx my long run with my usual pre-run half a banana, so wisely had an energy gel. Some may see that as an odd choice but I knew it wouldn’t upset my stomach, plus it was pineapple flavour which was quite refreshing on a summer’s morning!
I walked out the door, switched on my tech and:
My brain went “yaaaaay, let’s do this, whooop”
My heart said “maybe you should take it slow, not push it or try to see what you can do”
My legs went “what are you doing, why are we doing this….woooooooooow woman what on earth, we’ve been walking why aren’t we walking, how far are we going now, how dare you do this…..ooooh wait I’ve just remembered how to do this”
….that last one didn’t kick in until around 4K. I’d walked without any tightness or discomfort for a few days but running uses the muscles differently. My outer quads and hips felt tight for those first few kilometres, yes they eased a little after a while but not fully. I had a moment of feeling that it was ridiculous that I could barely run, before remembering what impact the week before would have had…this was pure and simply a recovery run. I loved every minute though – the air was full of birdsong, it was warm but there was a light shower on the breeze – it was so refreshing.
I got home and had a relaxed morning. Starting with a nice soaking in a strawberry scented bath with a coffee stood within reach. Then, after a bit of housework, I took to my mat for day 18 of my yoga practice…love…loving yourself and understanding that self love, self care, is not a luxury but a necessity.
I wanted a bit of extra me time, so I went to Bellamys Bank to do some sketching and sit amongst the wildflowers.
It’s a beautiful spot and I had it all to myself, the rain the only thing that made me wander back to the car. It brightened up as I got back to the carpark and so I kept walking, wandered further to Litton and up onto the Monsal Trail.
It felt so refreshing to walk on it, I’m so used to running on it instead and the view flashing by, instead I took time and took everything in more. Yes it poured with rain, infact at times it was like a monsoon…
…but it was so relaxing and peaceful. By the time I’d driven home to have an afternoon of rest, I was nearly dry again.
Sunday – My rest day…regardless of how little I’ve run, I have walked each day and incorporated some strength training and so my body needs a day to recover, to realign and adjust. Tomorrow starts recovery week two and not only more running but also, excitingly, I get back to spin class and gosh how I’ve missed it!