As many know, I am now in the peak weeks of training for my first full marathon – the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5, 2019. This week, my long run is 18 miles. Next week…it’s the dreaded (but necessary) 20 miler.
Throughout training, I have made a few mistakes (okay, maybe more than a few) when it comes to recovery. When I began to take the rest/recovery days more seriously, I realize I was using a few key items and developing a few key habits that would probably help others.
Here are my top 5!
ALL The Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is an OTC pain reliever that comes in a tiny glass gar (and trust me, guys – that tiny jar has lasted me nearly two years!). It works a lot better – and smells a lot more heavenly – than some other typical OTC analgesics. Tiger Balm is made from camphor, menthol, and (my fave) clove oil among others. There’s actually a pretty cool history behind this stuff, and you can read about it here.
In addition to using traditional Tiger Balm, I’ve also begun using the Tiger Balm patches and active gel. I use the patches on areas that typically tighten up, cramp, or knot easily (like my quads or IT bands).
That one day when I thought I was pretty much out of the game for my 16 miler, Tiger Balm helped me get it done. Highly recommended!
Textured roller/tennis ball. Foam rolling is great for larger areas such as the quads, hamstrings, and IT bands – but sometimes, you really need to work out a knot or focus on a smaller area/muscle group.
The texture of these massagers works better than a tennis ball; this recovery tool doesn’t slide around and stays put. So, if you’re rolling your foot for plantar fasciitis, you’d definitely want something like this. I’ve used it to roll and massage the heels of my feet, focus on certain areas of my quads or IT bands, etc. It’s great to have something smaller that can really target tight areas (that’s what she said).
Ice ice, baby. No really – a friend suggested I dip into an ice bath after running my 16 miler, and it helped immensely. Icing muscles can help with the following:
- Ice reduces blood-flow which means it stops inflammation.
- Because it can decrease inflammation, it can therefore decrease pain and soreness
- A few different students have shown that a 15 ice bath increases coordination abd muscle strength.
I sat in the ice bath for about 15 minutes and I recovered A LOT quicker this week as far as soreness. I’m actually not sore at all today, and I even ran hill repeats 48 hours after my sixteen miler. I followed the ice bath with a hot shower because once you get the inflammation under control, heat can help get blood flowing which is also important for recovery.
PS: Stake N Shake has cheap and big bags of ice available through the drive-thru!
Simple carbohydrates + protein immediately after a long run. If you’re like me, you’re not starving when you finish your long-run. Hunger usually hits me later in the day. I have to force myself to eat after my long run, and if I can only stomach something small, I am going to make it worth it.
For me, that’s a simple carbohydrate (like white bread) and protein (like peanut butter). I find that by eating this combo, I am able to get some energy back and don’t feel quite as exhausted.
The next day is a different story – I literally eat everything in site.
Tylenol. Disclaimer: Do not start taking any new OTC medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
I usually take aspirin, but after my long runs, I take Tylenol. I’m usually a bit nauseated after all that running, and Tylenol is very easy on the stomach. I’m not a fan of Tylenol for any other ailment (I honestly think it sucks for everything else), but popping two Tylenol help the soreness.
Side note: Ladies, give me ideas for a new sports bra because mine cut into my shoulders so much that my neck hurts after running.
Hopefully these items help you as much as they help me!