Post-race blues? Not around here. Celebrate your effort and make recovery fun. Written by Sarah Burke.
Depending on the type of runner you are, you either embrace or dread your prescribed weekly rest day (or two). No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself, one thing’s certain: post-ultramarathon, you’re going to need a few days off. For some runners, having your weekly agenda of runs taken away from you can create anxiety: what do I do with all of this free time? Am I losing fitness? Or, for me, what do I do with all my boundless energy?! But after a tremendous race effort, your body needs to heal so you can come back to your next block of training stronger and fully recovered.
I ran my first 100k a few weeks ago (Bandera!), and I’ve been enjoying the post-race recovery phase way more than I could have anticipated. While I’m beyond excited to lace my Hokas back up, there’s something unexpectedly welcome about this prescribed time to reflect on my training, the race experience, and all of the adventures ahead. Here’s what I’ve been doing in order to fully bask in my time away from running (and to avoid the stress of a weird non-running schedule).
Embrace the non-running weekend.
Most of my weekends contain at least five hours of running — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, that weekend off post-race opens up my Saturday/Sunday schedule in amazing ways. For example, I spent the weekend post-Bandera exploring Big Sur (hiking, not running!) with one of my best friends. All thoughts of sticking to a running schedule went out the window on this trip. Ah, so this is how other people live…
Hiking? You mean I’m supposed to walk this runnable terrain?
Stay the hell off of Strava.
I do my best to limit my time on social media in general, and rarely post on Strava. However, I do know the FOMO that can be piqued by hearing about other people throwing down aggressive workouts when I’m at home with my legs up the wall. Sorry if I forgot to give you Kudos on your runs last week; I’m sure they were epic.
Get serious about your recovery.
You know the drill: mobility, massage, sauna… all of those things that you know you SHOULD be doing regularly, but don’t. I can say from experience that slipping on a bathrobe, cooking the most delicious dinner with jazz music in the background and a Sufferfest FKT in my hand has done wonders for my relaxation. I highly recommend a post-dinner foam roll session while watching your favorite trashy TV show.
Foam rolling is always more fun with puppies.
If you’re training for ultramarathons, you’re probably already a student at the school of beastly feasting. However, as your body is recovering from a massive race effort, getting adequate calories (and protein!) so your muscles can rebuild is worth focusing on. A suggestion? Pancakes, stacked high.
Add almond butter for maximum tastiness (and a little hit of protein). Add “Squad Goals” mug for an extra dose of girl power.
Listen to your body.
It is an amazing machine that will allow you to flow over trails if you let it. All too often, the will to run during recovery week overshadows the fact that your body is not completely ready to get back at it. I was so psyched after Bandera, that if it was up to me, I would have run the day after the race. However, walking quickly to my gate at the airport was even a challenge then, so I vowed to give myself ample time to recover from such an immense effort that the 100k was.
Share some miles with these crushers and you’ll need a few days off, too.
Pay attention to the relationships in your life that are important to you, and dedicate the extra time and energy that you have when not running to foster those connections. Reach out to your friends. They miss you. Call your mom while you’re at it.
After you’ve let your battery fully recharge and you’ve dreamed up some big running dreams, it’s time to let your legs flow again; with your focus, energy, and happiness levels cranked all the way up!