Friday, May 12, 2017

20 Tips for After the Big Race

For many people in Grand Rapids, the Riverbank is either a yearly tradition or a one time bucket list, check that box type of race.

The 25k is a unique race in that it iss 2 miles longer then the 1/2 marathon.  On paper, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m guessing come mile 13, 2 miles and some change seems significant.  This race often represents a first time dipping the toes in this long of races for many people .    Hopefully, it all went well.  This is about the aftermath.  


The last few years I’ve seen some pretty banged up people that all started with finishing the Riverbank.  They either jumped back to quick or didn’t address some issues that cropped up during the race.  Here are some guidelines to navigate the next two weeks following you crossing that finish line.

1.  Congrats you made it.  Hug the people that mean something, slap some high fives and get something to drink.  Try to walk a bit.  Resist the urge to just collapse and not move for 30 min.  Your job right now if you don’t need the medical tent is some movement.  You don’t want to go from racing to sitting.  You might not have the energy to do a “proper cool down” but even walking will have some big time benefits to help flush the body from racing to recovery.  

2.  Get some calories in you.  Often times your stomach is still jostling around so something heavy like a cheeseburger probably won’t be the best idea, but something simple like a banana might seem delicious.  

3.  Get more calories in you.  An hour to two hours later, you might get struck with a famished feeling.  Eat what you want, after you choose some high quality protein.  Protein helps the body recover, let’s start right off the bat.  30-50 grams.  That usually means something the size of your palm. Then eat what you want.  :)

4.  Contrast shower. You can switch 3 or 4 if you want to shower before you eat lunch.  It’s permitted.  Warm/hot shower for a minute, colder shower for as long as you can (cooler will work).  Try to go back and forth a few cycles.  This is to help speed up some flushing of your system and promote a more parasympathetic state.

5. Take a nap.  

6.  Wake up and eat some more protein and drink some more water.  

7.  Bust out that foam roller and do some rolling.  Cap it at 5 minutes.  Work the quads, hips, and calves.  Roll the bottom of the feet with a lacrosse ball.  

8.  Before bed do some gentle stretching with a rope or towel.  The purpose of this is more for relaxation then actually stretching to improve range of motion.  Something just nice and easy and focus on your breathing.  Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.

9.  Sleep an extra hour if you can.  Sleep is our biggest recovery option available.  

10.  Wake up and drink some extra coffee.  I’m biased, but I think it helps.  

11.  The day after is 10 min of elevated heart rate that isn’t on your feet.  This can be a bike, a pool, weight lifting or even rolling on the ground with your foam roller.  Just get some blood moving.  No more then 20 minutes.  Nothing that makes you lose your breath.

12.  Keep on top of protein and hydration the next few days.  

13.  Hang out.  Literally.  Hang from a pull up bar or a tree branch for as long as you can.  Try to do this 2-3x a day.  If you don’t have access, hanging from a study door with feet on the floor can work.  Here were bringing in some traction to the lower back.  If you go to the gym, hang off the back extension machine for about 20 sec a repetition.  Hanging this way you need to be careful for eye pressure.  

14.  3 days later your going to foam roll for 10 minutes focusing on quads, hips, calves and feet.  Then follow that with a 15 min walk.  We are looking for an asymmetrical soreness.  For example, your left knee or left quad was the only thing that hurt more then the right.  It’s OK to be sore, we are looking for one thing that is more sore then the others.  

15.  Treat yourself to a massage.  I’d suggest at least 4 days post race.  

16.  During day 3-6 you can add 10 min a day to activity.  So day 6 you can be at an hour of pretty light to medium activity.  Again, nothing that is strenuous and nothing on your feet.  

17.  Keep checking in with your body through foam rolling the key areas and walking.  Paying a little more attention to the areas that remain sore that is asymmetrical.  

18.  No running for 7 days post race.  First runs between week 1-2 post race are kept under 5-6 miles.  This is only cleared when there is no asymmetrical soreness, for example, I feel real good except for my left foot, that still hurts.  Figure it out before you jump the gun.  

19.  Get help from a professional is your asymmetrical soreness doesn’t go away in 7-10 days.

20.  20 deep breaths before you go to bed every night starting day one.  Inhale through the nose.  Gentle long exhale.  Repeat and make this a habit.  

Congrats, you made it 10 days since your big race.  You should feel like your old self again.  Time to choose your next goal and start pursuing it.  

This is designed for the person that is doing a one time race.  You trained specifically for this race and not using this race as just a long run for a later race such as Bayshore marathon.  There is a huge difference in racing and running.  This is also guidelines for someone that is new to this distance.  This is the first time hitting these long runs.  With that said, hope it helps you recover and not become that person on my table that regretted their race.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nutrition From a Programming Perspective

Sticking to the theme of things I've changed my mind about, nutrition is one of them.  I was a big believer in the following statement, if it can't be sustained, it is not a real solution.  It is not healthy.
A respected coach posted something about how humans are supposed to be an undulating organism.  To say this one way is how you eat for the rest of your life is silly.  It  made me rethink and admit my thinking was a little short sighted.

Lets take biking as an example.  People that bike enjoy biking. They may bike everyday.  Then they decide to enter a 200 mile gravel race like the Dirty Kanza.  They are going to have to do some serious specialized training.  When the race is done, they won't sustain the volume and intensity of biking they needed to prepare for the race.  It is also doubtful that they will say, well I did the race, I'm done biking.  They are still going to ride.  A few months pass and they decide to do a mountain bike time trial.  A 60 min all out redline zone 5 race.  It's going to require much different preparation then the 200 mile race.  They train for that race and when its done they aren't going to keep the same training even though they will still ride their bike.

This is an analogy for nutrition. While there are some basics, it's going to come down to personal goals as well.  If you are trying to lose weight, attacking that goal for 3 months and then taking some time off (a set time) and not being as strict.  You are still going to eat well,  (your still riding your bike) but not as intensely.  Then go at it again with renewed discipline but also with a metabolism that isn't ground to a halt. 

Taking it a little deeper into the periodized analogy.  Humans that are healthiest have the greatest variability in their physiology.  The HRV is a score of your heart rate variability.  It is the healthiest when it's the most variable.  Most peoples joints are healthiest when they have the greatest motion that they can control.  Varying your caloric needs, varying your macro nutrition all can be healthy and help break through psychological barriers that may come from feeling you are depriving yourself of something.  

My thinking is that do the basics well consistently.  Protein, veggies, water.   Ride that bike.  Then attack something aggressively.  Most people lose weight if they cut all sugar/breads/dairy.  I think most people can do this with a lot of discipline for like 4-6 weeks.  Train hard for that crazy bike race.  Then I'd back off to not limiting stuff and going back to making sure you got the basics covered.  Go back to riding that bike.  During that 4-6 weeks phase I'd have days of low calories and day of higher calories. 

Variability in the human has been shown to be healthy, I'm starting to think nutrition is no different.  When you want a change, attack it aggressively and then return to moderation.  Keep doing this.