Monday morning I woke up, eventually, and carefully got myself to a standing position, and creaked my way to the bathroom. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. It was difficult to go downstairs normally. I had to kind of go sideways and hang on to the banister for support. Eventually I got myself going and got to work, and even managed a 20 minute walk at lunch time. A normal post half marathon Monday then.

But is there anything I could have done yesterday to help prevent this pain? Any little tricks to keep the stiffness at bay?

There’s plenty of advice out there, some of it conflicting. Let’s compare and contrast the advice, and what actually happened.

First – nutrition. The advice is to eat something healthy within 30 minutes of finishing. One article says the ratio of carbs to protein should be 3:1, and suggests 6 whole grain crackers, a couple of slices of cheese and an apple. I ate a banana and a chocolate rice crispie bar which were handed out at the end of the race. Not sure there’s much protein in that, but quite a lot of carbs, and of course the banana is always a good thing (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post somewhere). Then a couple of hours later I tucked into a yummy portion of lasagne and some green beans at my mum’s. Plus some cheese (Cambozola) and sourdough. And then later in the evening, too tired to think about actual cooking I ate more yummy sourdough (fig and fennel from the farmers’ market) and with MORE cheese (a delicious goat’s cheese also from the farmers’ market). Cheese is my downfall, and one reason why I run. So all in all I ate a lot of carb’s and a lot of protein. Not sure about the ratio though.

Bananas – essential running fuel (and post run recovery)

Second – hydration. I think I have this nailed now. Since doing a couple of trail runs I have invested in a fab vesty thing that carries two 500ml squishy bottles that can be filled with water etc. It is so much easier than carrying a bottle. I filled one with water, and the other with an isotonic solution. Whatever isotonic drink was left at the end I finished as soon as I could after the run. And then drank more water. And then a bit more. My running app tells me that I should have drunk almost 1.5 l after yesterday’s run. I think I managed that. I know from experience that if I don’t drink plenty of water I get a terrible headache.

Third – stretching. Hahaha! I know that you should probably stretch after running a long run. But to be quite honest the reality is that I was so knackered that all I wanted to do was lie flat on the ground for several minutes. So that is what I did. It was quite painful getting down on the ground, and a mental struggle to get up again. Also I think there is quite a bit of conflicting scientific research on the actual benefits of post run stretching (haven’t got time to find it now..sorry) so I don’t feel too guilty if I can’t face it.

It hurts!

Fourth – and it kind of goes with stretching – foam roller-ing. I went to a workshop on how to use a foam roller properly recently. It was great workshop and I came home and dusted off the orange roller that has sat tucked away for months (years?!) with great intentions. But yesterday when I got home the last thing I felt like doing was torturing my already painful legs with those spiky nodules.

Fifth – another masochistic one – ice baths. No, no, just no. Are you crazy?! The evidence is fairly poor on the benefits of this, even though I know plenty of athletes do this all the time. I am never going to plunge myself into an ice bath.


Sixth – rest. Yes I can do this one. Sunday evening I sat on the sofa and watched 2 episodes of Stranger Things (I’m still catching up with series 2 because I practically never sit and watch tv). I can’t watch more than 2 episodes or I can’t sleep.

That brings me to number 7 – sleep. Sleep, as we all know , is essential for recovery. I would say that along with hydration it is the Number One thing. I fell asleep immediately and managed several hours unbroken until some crazy person in the neighbourhood decided it was ok to set off a load of fireworks at 4 am. Thanks. Then my next door neighbour freaked me out by wandering around in his garden at 4.30, and I thought it was a burglar! Hey ho. Better get to bed now then!

I made an apple and redcurrant cake earlier – look out for the write up! Coming soon!

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