Training: How To Recover Faster After a Marathon

What does it mean to finish a marathon? Many runners, especially novices, have inspiring ideas that help them get through training and to the finish line. And then the finish line looks like a battlefield with runners wobbling and hobbling around with pain all over their bodies and minds. The video clips of runners crawling across the finish line are glorified as something impressive and admirable. For most runners crossing the finish line also means continuous suffering from muscle soreness, ligament and tendon pain for days and even weeks afterwards, and forget about walking up and down the stairs – that means pure torture.

Are you really supposed to pay like this for the pleasure of running a marathon? Is there any way to avoid this or at least reduce these unpleasant consequences? Of course! There is simply no reason anyone should suffer such painful consequences for simply wanting to run. My clients go out or go shopping to celebrate right after they complete their marathons.

This situation has the same roots as all running related injuries do – lack of technique work and lack of adequate training. Lots of advice out there completely misses the point. Icing and other band-aid treatments don’t do much as many runners already know.

The Mechanism of the Injury

In this article I want to go over the main “injury” associated with running a marathon – the general fatigue and excruciating soreness of your entire body.

What does muscle, ligament, and tendon soreness mean? It means that all these tissues were over-stretched, over-pulled, and overloaded by your own body weight while you ran the marathon. Your body cannot handle the lengthy duration of such repetitive activity, especially with your running technique deteriorating in the process. Whether it’s gradual or rapid, deterioration still occurs and it takes effort and focus  to learn to maintain technique for whatever distance. If you watched the Breaking 2 all the way through you must’ve noticed that Eliud Kipchoge maintained his running form from start to finish. His unyielding execution of technique and focus were impressive. We’re back to the importance of technique here. Maintaining proper technique during marathon prevents injuries.

So, our muscles contract and relax. During long repetitive work muscles lose their ability to relax, and as a consequence of that, as you run, with each step your bodyweight loads, pulls and stretches these unrelaxed muscles, because the normal space/time cycle of the bodyweight loading-unloading is interrupted. This is a very simple deterioration of intra- and inter-muscular coordination with extension of these negative effects on all other connective tissues: ligaments, tendons, cartilages and bones. The soreness is just a manifestation of destruction of connection and coordination between tissues. To bring your tissues back to their normal condition and to reduce the pain we need to recover their ability to contract and relax.

Running with the Pose Method gives you a chance to avoid or at least minimize these negative consequences. But what if you are not familiar with the Pose Method or didn’t learn it well enough to run with the technique through the entire marathon?

Recommendation #1: Strength Recovery

How can you make your recovery faster and more effective? You need to learn a very simple procedure which I developed and call ‘strength recovery’. It is different from what’s called an active recovery. The common active recovery is all about restoring physiological functions. Whereas the strength recovery is all about bringing back to normal function the natural muscle-tendon elasticity complex. Muscles contract and relax and when that function is affected by the repetitive stress of running without adequate preparation, your tendons and ligaments, and consequently other tissue, are affected as well. It’s a domino effect.

So, the strength recovery concept is based on the idea of returning to a normal contract-relax cycle of muscle work. This is achieved through the use of moderate resistance exercises for the local muscle groups to restore their normal cycle. The repetitive acceptable resistive workload allows muscles to get back to their normal condition. Do it in concentric regime with resistance in 2-3 sets and allow about 20 to 30 repetitions in one set in order to get your muscles to feel the burning sensation.

You can start doing these exercises immediately after the marathon in a gym or just in a hotel room using rubber bands and StretchCordz. Begin from the most loaded muscles, such as quadriceps, then to the hamstrings. Move on to your hip area, low back and low abdominal. Don’t forget to do some exercises for your feet and ankles as well. Our strength development video program provides a good selection of exercises.

In the week following the marathon these exercises should be done almost every day, and then every other day, depending on the speed of your recovery and soreness going down. Along with strength exercises you should do some flexibility exercises and use them as a cool down portion of your recovery sessions. (here are a few flexibility routines you could follow). It’s a good idea to also run a bit with a moderate speed, maybe reps of 200m, or easy jogging on the grass or trails. You will be back to normal before you know it.

Recommendation #2: Technique Work

And at the end, I return to what I always start with – technique. Unfortunately there is simply no way around it. If you start correctly, then everything else will be built correctly. You must start with improving your technique. I put together a video training program that takes a complete novice from never having run a mile to being able to complete a marathon in three months of training. There is also one for half marathon, 5K and 10K.

It is difficult to watch runners suffer when in the Pose Method® the kind of recovery mentioned above usually takes just 2-3 days, or the longest up to a week, because of much less damage to all connective tissues to begin with, and whatever minor damage occurs it almost disappears within couple of days. Nevertheless my runners routinely use my strength recovery procedure to accelerate even this short time of recovery.

Technique is the gateway that allows you to express your physiological gifts or make up for the lack of such and still allow you to enjoy physical activity, and without it running just isn’t as great as it could be. Correct running technique prevents the typical injuries that are commonly referred to as overuse injuries. There is no such thing as overuse when it comes to using your body and your limbs for physical activity. There is however mediocre technique and injuries that come as a result of it.

With proper technique and proper training, finishing a marathon could take on a whole new meaning for you. Instead of suffering the consequences you could be enjoying the results.

Additional Recommendations

Right after the race or in the evening I recommend to take a hot/warm bath with apple cider vinegar which provides a very positive effect. This is a rather old recipe that is backed by experience of many generations. Additionally, a bowl of miso soup would be very helpful. It is often recommended for hangover in popular culture, but I recommend it to all my athletes as a recovery food after races and sometimes after training.

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Training: 5 Signs of Overtraining

Sport specific training is not the simplest of tasks, yet so many attempt to train and to create training programs without really having a clue of what training process is. As a result, there are too many overtrained athletes in danger of being permanently injured.

It is necessary for every coach and athlete to be aware of these important signs of overtraining.

#1 BIO-MOTOR: LOSS OF COORDINATION

The most classical and usually the first of signs of overtraining. Unfortunately, this #1 sign is commonly overlooked. Instead the focus is on heart rate and other physiological signs, which are also important, but loss of coordination comes first. As a matter of fact, it comes first when we get sick, too. Ever noticed how you get a bit clumsy when you have a common cold? Interestingly enough, the minor injuries that happen (bumping into things in a familiar setting, stumbling or tripping, etc) because of the loss of coordination, actually help prevent serious overtraining because you know you’re not  going to be attempting to work out when you can’t keep your balance. It’s your body’s way of saying “take a break”. So always pay attention to your coordination ability, it’s the first sign of things starting to head in the wrong direction.

#2 PHYSIOLOGICAL: HEART RATE DEVIATIONS FROM AVERAGES

As you know there is “resting”, “working” and “recovering” heart rate. Special attention needs to be paid to changes in your “resting” heart rate. Some degrees of deviation ( ± 3 bpm) are acceptable, but some (± 6-9 or higher) are a bright sign of you entering the danger zone.

#3 PHYSIOLOGICAL: LOSS OF MUSCLES’ ABILITY TO RELAX

Muscles’ normal function is to contract and expand, tense and relax. The loss of the ability to relax means your muscles stay in a constant state of tension. Not good, not how it is supposed to be.

#4 PSYCHOLOGICAL: ONSET OF IRRITABILITY, DISSATISFACTION AND CONSTANT FATIGUE

If your girl/boyfriend dumped you it’s one thing, but if you’ve been “training hard” preparing for your big race and all over sudden you feel annoyed, always tired, never happy with what you’re doing or what’s going on – it is almost a guarantee that you’re overtrained. Sport activities are meant to bring you pleasure, satisfaction, things of that nature. So if you’re feeling the opposite, maybe it’s time to change what you’re doing… wouldn’t you say?

#5 RADICAL DROP IN TRAINING AND RACING PERFORMANCE

This one sneaks up on you. People don’t see it coming and then don’t know what hit them. But the more they try to train “harder and better” the deeper they are digging themselves in. It is a short distance from here to a “point of no return”, so you better STOP NOW.

What is not commonly known, is the fact that your training and racing performance will be ok for a while after you start going “downhill”. You will continue to perform ok under an illusion that you are simply dealing with one of your “down/off/up/good/so-so” days (whatever you want to call it). Until one day everything starts going steadily downhill, and you can’t seem to get out of it.

So, don’t get yourself to that point, be smarter and listen to your body.  Treated with care it will flawlessly serve you for years.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Injuries: To Ice or Not

Icing was always a part of athletes’ life, but never to the extremes it is today. It almost seems to be the most recommended treatment for injuries, especially so in running. One can find heat application being recommended also, but not nearly as much as it should be and sometimes not for the right reasons. To say the least about strength exercises recovery, massage and such.

Icing or cold therapy with ice is recommended primarily for numbing the pain and reducing the swelling. Since pain is our body’s signal that there is a problem and swelling is reduced by freezing the tissue, in reality icing does nothing more than masking the problem and deflecting your attention. Unless there is an open wound and blood needs to be stopped or there is a need to drop the body temperature (fever, overheating), application of ice to a human body is really not a good idea.

While majority of us agree that icing does not carry any healing qualities, some go as far as to state that icing helps with overuse injuries and painful joints. To stop the overuse injuries one should examine his technique and training, applying an ice-pack won’t make technical problems go away. Your joints will do better, when treated with warmth. The reality is that cold from ice does not penetrate deeper, than the top layer of your muscles, directly under your skin. A human body has to maintain a certain temperature to live. If the temperature drops below that – the body stops functioning. So if icing could really reach your joints to ice them, you’d be in trouble and have some dead tissue on your body.

 

 

Living tissue does better with warmer temperatures. It heals better and faster and it weathers the distress of an injury better. Application of ice to the injured area might temporarily relieve you from feeling pain and freeze the tissue to stop the blood flow to reduce the swelling, but that will also stop the healing process. In order to heal itself, your body needs the blood to flow through the injured area. Strangely enough, today, it is considered a bad thing by many. But why would anyone get in the way of healing their injuries? Why first stop the natural healing by freezing everything with ice and then try to artificially re-initiate it with medicine? Why not do it right from the beginning?

Next time you have an inflammation, instead of icing it, try applying a flat-cut piece of room temperature raw potato slice to the affected area or a warm compress soaked in apple cider vinegar. If you wish to take any medicine – take one aspirin. Next time you get a bruise, rub it immediately through the pain instead of applying ice, and you will notice that the pain associated with the bruise will lessen a lot quicker than usual and the skin discoloration will be a lot less, if it happens at all.

It will serve you well to always remember that icing has a rather narrow purpose and limited usage, and you can absolutely do without it. As a matter of fact you will help speed up your healing if you skip the “ice therapy”. Next time you have an injury, and let’s hope that it doesn’t happen, but if it does, don’t ice it. Instead take care of it with one of the treatments described above and then take a hot bath with apple cider vinegar or go to sauna (which has always been hugely popular in Russian and European athletic circles) before calling it a day.

There are many ways to deal with injuries and application of ice is just one, small and rather insignificant step that is not necessary as often as it is recommended nowadays. Unless your injury was caused by a random accident like hitting something, or tripping and falling, your next move is to break the unproductive cycle of repeating your mistakes and address errors in your technique, that are causing your injuries instead of numbing the pain and hoping the injures would just go away.

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.