As an Ultra runner who competes a lot I have become accustom to “backing up” between big events in a short period of time. Once upon a time I would have 3 weeks off after a marathon, these days 24hrs is enough before I commence training again.
There are no real secrets to backing up effectively and it’s no surprise that the bigger and better your running base/experience is the easier it is to recover and bounce back. But for those of us who are not superhuman I have boiled down my experiences into the following key points.
- Keep moving! – After the event for up to 24-36hrs keep active, keep walking around and avoid sitting for long periods. This will help stimulate blood flow to your muscles to aid in the repair process; it will also help reduce stiffening of the muscles as they repair.
- Hydrate and Eat! – Make sure you get back to a healthy level of hydration right after the race, as much as I hate to say it avoid alcohol as well for at least 48hrs. Ensure you get some good quality calories in as soon as possible after the event, if you can’t stomach real food perhaps try a shake?
- Stretch – After the initial muscle soreness has dissipated focus on stretching everything out and regaining that pre race flexibility. This will also be a chance to see if anything is out of order injury wise.
- Get massage/physio – It’s always a good idea to give the body a once over with a masseuse or physio after as soon as the muscles are no longer sore to touch. This will help identity any problem areas you might need to keep an eye on.
- Get back running – It’s important to get out running as soon as its safe to do so. Even a 20min very slow jog will do the trick. It helps keep the blood flowing and muscles moving. How long after the event this run is depends on how sore you are but somewhere between 1-4days is ideal.
- Focus on short intensity work – if your next event is within a few weeks there is no need to go out on the big long runs you did in preparation for the first event. Instead focus on short intense sessions (once the legs feel good again) to keep the cadence ticking over and hopefully extend the “peak” you achieved in your first event. If the next event is more than 2-3 weeks away you can return to a more normal training regime.
- Listen to your body – Above all else just take the time to listen to how you are feeling, don’t force things or run though niggles as in the days immediately after a hard event your muscles and immune system are particularly fragile.
Remember above all its about having fun so get out there and run.