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Recovery time: running lessons learned

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Running marathons wasn’t something I’d considered this time last year. I was obsessed with running a 7-minute mile and placing in the top 10 in a half marathon.

However, after a tear of my quadriceps, some playful ribbing from a marathon runner, and the performance of a friend who nearly qualified for Boston, I registered for the annual Blue Nose 26 miler in Halifax.

After an agonizing month of waiting for muscles to reconnect, the obsession began. As winter turned to spring, my Sunday runs became adventures around the Halifax peninsula. I was ready. Or I thought I was.

By mile 20 of the Blue Nose, I had some serious regrets. With each step around Lake Banook, my calves screamed bloody murder. As my range of motion diminished, my knees ached, and my feet throbbed, it seemed like the Metro Centre was thousands of miles away.

But this wasn’t enough. A month later, on a rainy Sunday in New Glasgow, I finished my second marathon. The last hour of the Johnny Miles Classic was the most excruciating experience of my life. It became apparent to me that the body needs time to recuperate after running 42 kilometres, more than five weeks anyway.

I’ve learned some helpful lessons. Short, quick strides are better than long strides, especially if you have disproportionately small legs like me.

Also, striking the ground on your midfoot helps the body move faster, as opposed to landing heel/toe, which is like applying the brakes with every step.

If you get an injury, “shut it down.” Let your body heal, and then pick it up slowly once the recovery starts. Trying to run through an injury is a pain-filled journey of frustration that leads to a destination called failure.

Finally, listen to your body, not your mind. Your brain is constantly telling you to stop, that you’ve got nothing left. When deciding whether or not to go another few miles, shut the brain off and try to become “one with your body.” Almost always, your body will tell you to keep going!

Muscle Pain? Check out this article on understanding muscle pain.


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