Learning to Recover. Properly. (From a race, that is)

Friends and readers, today I ran my very first half marathon.

It feels like this has been years in the making, honestly.  I have literally trained for this particular half marathon THREE times, but the previous two times, extraneous circumstances kept me from actually racing.  This year, my husband is actually out of town this weekend, so it almost looked as though I wouldn’t be racing.

Again.

Fortunately, a running buddy of mine selflessly offered to watch our girls while I ran the longest race of my life until now.

I am by no means a fast runner, but I truly love the sport.  I went into the race this morning with no expectations of how fast I could finish.  It was, after all, a trail half marathon, which tends to take a bit longer than a road half marathon.

What made today’s race different from other races I’ve done in the past?  (Besides it being the longest, of course.)

I’m finally learning how to fuel and keep my body energized before and during runs.

For years I never bothered to carry a water bottle on any of my runs, even in the summer, and I wouldn’t dare carry any food on long runs.  I would always tell fellow runners that it would bother my stomach, and I truly was worried it would.

On a recent trail run, though, by mile 6 of a 10 mile trek, I was not feeling well.  My legs were heavy, my head was throbbing, and I was definitely thirsty.  Even after drinking lots of fluids and replenishing foods, I didn’t feel well for the entire rest of the day.  My one, poorly fueled long run cost me a Saturday.

After that weekend last month I bought myself a hand-held water bottle, and researched the best foods to eat during long runs.

Today, equipped with 20 oz of lemon water and dried dates, I finished my half marathon without a headache and cramped legs.

Of course now, about 12 hours after start time, my muscles are sore, but I don’t feel the usual “long run hangover” that I get when I run more than 7 miles or so.  In honor of that, I am going to try to recover properly.  Here’s how:

1.  I am going to take the next 2-3 days completely off of running.  I will stretch, walk, do yoga, and of course, do my usual household duties.  But I WILL NOT RUN.  At all.  You heard me.

2.  I will drink at least 1 1/2 times the normal amount of water I drink each day for a week.  Why?  Because water flushes out all the nasty build up that causes sore muscles.

3.  After 2-3 off running, I will start running at an easy pace for just a couple miles.  I will do this 3-4 times a week for 2 weeks.

4.  I will take a warm bath with either epsom salts and/or muscle relaxing essential oils like lavender, peppermint,and clove.

I am hoping to recover well from today’s race in order to run well afterwards and in future races.  Here is to learning to take care of my body instead of wearing it out!

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