The WSJ ran this story on an Olympian who takes a full month off of exercise -- not just running -- after last race of his season.
Now, this *may* surprise you but it's a horrific idea to a lot of runners -- even IF the person doing it is an amazing, not-just-like-us Olympic athlete.
It will not surprise you to learn that I am nowhere near an Olympic-caliber runner. *gasp* I'm a mere recreational runner who just happened to run a marathon, oh, recently (two-weeks-one-day-ago-but-who's-keeping-track). Yet this story comes along as I've been trying to navigate my own recovery and answer the nagging runner question, "What's next?"
This makes no sense to non-runners, I'm sure, but runners are afraid to stop. You work so stinking hard to get to a fitness level when training for a marathon -- and once you stop for awhile, it's hard to get back there. It's like quitting smoking, kind of -- I don't want to go through the process of quitting again, so I don't smoke, right? Well, with running, I don't want to have to fight to get to a certain fitness level if I'm already there.
I'm surrounding by widely varying opinions on what the appropriate post-marathon recovery is.
I know people who ran Chicago who are running marathons in the next couple of weeks. I have friends who are running like crazy -- they feel great, so why not? I have friends who are very cautious, having battled back from injuries. Given I've been through physical therapy a few times, I'm in the gunshy camp, a little.
And yet my head keeps trying to trick me into forgetting I'm recovering -- it takes something like a month for your body to full recover, your muscles and tendons and ligaments to bounce back maybe longer (lots of different things out there about that), your immune system is down for awhile... Yet I keep telling myself, hmm, how will I get my four runs in this week? I better start doing the speedwork I never did during marathon training.
And yet every time I run with friends -- during which things largely feel OK -- if our speed even creeps up a bit, my left hamstring just gets oh-a-little-bit-grouchy. It is still mad about that marathon thing I did.
So, as ridiculous as it sounds, I'm trying to continue to give myself permission to take a break. For Pete's sake, I only had a baby 19 months ago. I'm allowed, right? So, for the next two weeks, I will:
- Not do speedwork
- Take at least two days off a week
- Only run three times a week
- If I must workout, do something no-impact -- I'm busting out yoga and Physique 57 DVDs, which are kicking my sorry butt
So, this is the plan I'm following. And while I can't shake the "I'm slacking feeling" it's going OK.
Running rocks. :)