Saturday, August 4, 2012

Relay Recovery Orange Ogres finish strong!

The first time I did a relay such as this one, I have never been so sore after the event.  Why? I hadn't been running much because of injury, I didn't understand or know how to eat or drink during the relay and I'm pretty sure I was clueless about things that can help speed recovery.  All of those things (plus just years more running at a higher level) means I have been amazed at how easy recovery has been from this year's event.

I've been at a consistent high mileage (for me) for a couple of months with no injury issues besides the occasional tweak here and there. I get how I have to bring and then eat foods which appeal to me at odd times even when I don't really feel like it. I have extra food too and generally people bring enough extra snacky items to share.  This is much better than when i had a PBJ sandwich which I could barely choke down and then promptly lost in the van the first year I ran a relay such as this.  Yep, experience counts on so many levels!

And I'd had some excellent running in this event.  17 miles total @ 8:06 pace overall. I'd had a very sucessful third leg too.  I knew what I wanted for pace going into my third leg but from experience I didn't expect to be able to hit any faster for the harder effort. I was really surprised to see a sub-8 pace overall for my last leg.  I honestly felt like I was working hard yet just maintaining and I was delighted to be going faster than I thought!  Generally at the end of races when I am pushing the pace, it feels extra hard and my legs will  not move.  I hope that this new experience will translate to other goal events!

As an aside, the last leg is also where I had the best laugh.  Our other driver of Van 2 (GVB) had taken to shouting "faster, faster, faster" at a couple of our runners as we were passing them in the van.  It was purely in fun jest, or course and accompanied with much cheering.  I started running and they must've piled into the van because not too long afterwards I got cheered and GVB yelled "faster, faster, faster!" at me as they went past.  It did make me laugh because at that point I was still warming up on the uphill first mile.  But the van got stuck at a long wait for a left-hand turn onto a busy highway.  Aha!  I could see them stuck there with a line of cars and was delighted as I caught up, climbed the hill and could yell, "faster, faster, faster GVB!"  Relays are just full of fun moments like these.  

Anyway, the funny thing is that I really do much, much less aided recovery now than I used to.  No ice baths, no icing of anything unless it's an obvious tweak like a rolled ankle.  I do make sure to eat well after most runs.  Since i never have any problem eating directly after a harder effort though this is not the issue for me that it can be for others.   The interesting thing is that recent research is showing that aided recovery in the form of ice baths or anti-inflammatories may be counter productive. 

How so?  Your bodies response to hard efforts is inflammation which triggers the body's mechanism for healing and repair which makes the muscles stronger.  Take out that inflammation and the body's adaption to the hard workout is lessened.  See here:  article

Of course there are instances with aided recovery would be useful.  I wore compression socks in-between each of my legs at the relay.  In that instance, i needed to run hard again almost immediately and my lower legs feel better after wearing them. 

I recovered quickly enough that I was pretty seriously considering jumping into a half marathon this weekend.  However the timing of my cycle has been so uneven of late, I decided against running that this weekend. Good call as Seattle hit record breaking temps!  I'm happy to be back up to my usual 40 mile running weeks and looking forward to a 10k in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile I am totally enjoying the heat.  I know it won't last. 

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