Whether your goal is a 5k or marathon, proper post race recovery is important to consider regarding preventing running injuries. Over the past few years I have worked with a number of runners in my clinic that were injury free with their training and goal race. Then their injury popped up while getting back into a routine too quickly in the weeks following their event.
No matter if you are Dean Karnazes and can run a marathon every day or someone who has struggled with injuries and recovery and needs more time, it is pertinent to have a recovery plan to help you prevent injury and safely return to your routine. This article covers four phases of focused recovery. The length of time for each phase will vary depending on the distance of your race and your individual needs.
There are many approaches when it comes to post race recovery and prevention. One concept coined by New Zealander and former world master’s marathon record holder, Jack Foster, is the Foster Formula. Foster believed that runners should focus on recovery for one day per every mile of the distance they raced. Thus a 13 day recovery for a half marathon and treat the next 26 days after a marathon as your recovery time.
The first phase of recovery is active rest. Key factors to consider during this phase are rehydration, rest, and nutrition. Post race and in the days following, focus on replenishing your body’s fluid and nutrition needs. Make sure to get adequate post race sleep and rest to ensure muscle recovery.
Icing and muscle work are also great areas to target in this phase. Focus on icing irritable areas for the first 48-72 hours after a race. Ice two to three times per day for up to 15 minutes. For working out achy muscles, massage sticks and foam rollers are great tools for promoting blood flow and decreasing soreness. Emphasize work on the hamstrings, quadriceps, IT bands and calves a few minutes per day.
Regarding activity in the active rest phase, stretching and walking are probably best in the time immediately following your event. Lightly stretch out your hips, back, quadriceps and calves, focusing on breathing and pain free holds. This will help promote circulation without adding irritation beyond what has resulted from the race.
During the next phase of recovery it is pertinent not to push back into your routine too soon. Cross training is great to consider. Explore walking, pool running, biking, swimming, the elliptical machine or other cardio equipment to help with continued muscle recovery without the loading that may come with running.
This is the phase to start back into regular running at a reduced level. With the return phase consider not running multiple days in a row, continuing to cross train to aid with your recovery and injury prevention. When you do run, keep your pace and distance down. Consider walk/run combination workouts, alternating 5-10 minute efforts. Look for softer surfaces to run on such as dirt, crushed limestone or outdoor tracks.
During this last phase of post race recovery the key point is to listen to your body. Remember the intensity of your race and all the training you did in the months leading up to your event. It may take you more time to feel ready to get back into a regular running schedule. If you are still depleted mentally or physically, continue to be active by cross training and gradually building your mileage.
If you are dealing with an injury or pain lingering from your training or race, consider seeking medical attention. Physical Therapists are experts in injury treatment and prevention and specialize in helping individuals with mobility issues, analyzing your problem and giving you solutions to get back to running.
Recover and Prevent
Whether you recover in a few days, weeks or months, the concepts of active rest, rebalance, return and rebuild hold true. Listen to your body and do not push back too soon. Enjoy mixing up your program and celebrate your accomplishments by treating your body well.
Spring is here and the warm weather is following. For some runners that means that they are bumping up their mileage to train for an upcoming 20k, ½ marathon, or even a spring marathon. For others the idea of even running around the block is hard to imagine. There are a few programs out there that give hope to those starting from scratch when it comes to running.
I recommend checking out the Couch to 5k training plan. This program will guide you to a 5k goal in 9 weeks. The process starts out with mainly walking with running short intervals between walking intervals. Check out the program and consider it as an option to get you out the door and to the starting line in just a few months.
If you a have a running base from the past few months or are looking for a 5k to walk in the next few months, I would like to plug ChildServe’s Run, Walk, & Fun 4 the Kids coming up on May 14th, in Johnston, Iowa. This is a great event that focuses on supporting an organization that provides services for children with special health care needs. My wife and I utilize some of ChildServe’s services for our daughter Kate.
Hope you are encouraged to take the first step towards a 5k goal. Then don’t just stop there, use a challenge like this to help you commit to increased activity for years to come.
I enjoyed spending some time at the Des Moines Triathlon Club expo at the YMCA Healthy Living Center today. It was great to reconnect with friends, patients, and colleagues. I also enjoyed meeting some new people who are involved with the sport of triathlon.
This year looks like a great year for triathlon in central Iowa. The Hy-Vee Triathlon continues to grow. It has changed its venue to September with the addition of a championship Olympic distance event. There are also many other local races to choose from including Copper Creek, Big Creek, Hickory Grove, and Iowa Games, just to name a few.
If you are looking for a challenge, I would recommend considering entering a triathlon. The sprint distance would be a great entry point if you are new to the sport. You don’t have to do the Ironman to be considered a triathlete. Consider joining a local club like the Des Moines Triathlon Club. Others include the Capital Striders, Triathlon Racers of Iowa, and the Altoona Triathlon Club.
I am looking forward to continuing to help local triathletes treat and prevent their injuries in 2011, by providing specialized Physical Therapy services for endurance athletes at our Des Moines clinic.
Now is the time to start laying the foundation for a healthy and fun year. Whether you commit to swimming twice a week, biking to work, or running with a group every Saturday morning, don’t think you need to wait until the ice melts to enjoy getting fit.
Check out The World Triathlon website for up to date information on Charlie Wittmack’s triathlon adventure across Europe and Asia. I just saw that Charlie is coming back to Des Moines for the holidays, to heal up and prepare for the rest of his journey. The World Tri is doing some great things to draw awareness to global health and adventure through education.
I heard Charlie speak at the Capital Striders annual dinner this past winter. He inspired the audience to conquer their Everest, challenging us to dream and take risks. I found it a little ironic that he later mentioned that he was doing his winter running on the treadmill, as he did not want to get hurt running outside. Charlie has no fear of climbing Everest, as he has done it and is planning to do it again. I am planning on running outside in the winter. No plans to climb Mt. Everest. What is your Everest? Dream and go for it.
One thing that some athletes do not know is that too much stretching before activity has actually been shown to decrease an individuals force output. The last thing anyone would want to do prior to exercise is impede his or her performance. Thankfully there is a better option for a pre-exercise routine…dynamic warm-ups.
Dynamic warm-ups include moving the body in various planes of motion, in order to prepare it for the sports you will be doing. One concept is to simulate the movements or muscle groups you will be using with your workout. These movements are not held, as stretches are, but are done repetitively as you move through the planes of motion.
Benefits of dynamic warm-ups include promoting blood flow and mobility as you prepare to swim, run, bike, etc. Other benefits include injury recovery and prevention, as well as improving efficiency and performance. The motions you do should prepare your muscles and joints for your sport. As you get into your workout your body will be ready for the mobility you will demand of it.
Dynamic warm-ups are great to include no matter when you work out. Include them in your routine prior to morning exercise. Those that sit a lot during the day at work will also find that dynamic warm-ups combat the sitting posture when you do them prior to heading out on a run or swimming laps.
Included here are samplings of dynamic warm-ups that I commonly use with clients that are runners. The key concepts of preparing your body for your sport can be taken into any activity, knowing you want your warm-ups to put your body through the planes and ranges of motion that you will be doing during exercise.
Regarding stretching, if you feel the need to stretch before exercise, focus on short and light stretching as a part of your routine. Save the longer holds for after your workout. Stretching will be the most beneficial if performed after a workout.
A few dynamic warm-ups include:
- Hip flexor opening (lunge position) – This drill opens up the hips, working against the sitting posture. From a standing position step forward with one leg, bending the front knee to open the hips.
- Hamstring curls (leg curls) – Great exercise to warm-up the hamstrings. Standing or walking, lifting your heel, bend one knee to 90 degrees. Repeat with the other leg.
- Hip abduction (leg swings) – This drill activates the outer hip that is commonly weak. Standing on one leg, swing the other leg out and back to the side. Repeat with the other leg.
- Hip rotation – The hip rotation drill helps warm-up the hip rotator muscles. Stand with your feet in a V position, shift your weight onto one leg, and rotate the other leg in and out. Repeat on the other side.
- Compact arm drive – This drill is more running form specific, helping runners work on proper arm form technique. Stand in a stride position, bend your elbows to 90 degrees, and drive your arms straight forward and back (alternate). Switch your stride and repeat.
Do all of your dynamic warm-ups for 10-15 repetitions with the left and right side. Make sure you feel the activities are helping you loosen up and prepare for your sport. Consult a professional to get more details on what specific dynamic warm-ups you require for your individual needs.
Today is the 3 year anniversary of the 2nd and hopefully last time that I broke by left collarbone (clavicle). Here is an article I wrote after that event in September 2007. I was reminded of it recently as a patient of mine emailed me telling me that she had fallen running and broke her left collarbone.
Unexpected Time Off
We tend to take our bodies for granted when we are healthy and life is going well. Then when an injury happens our lives are changed and we must learn to adapt until our body is able to function normally. While riding to work on September 12th, 2007, I crashed my bike on the Bill Riley trail after hitting a patch of sand, and broke my left collarbone for the second time.
I am thankful for only a minor injury. The accident could have been worse. My helmet also hit the asphalt (Note: Always wear your helmet when bicycling!). Because of the need to let my clavicle heal, I will not be running for the next couple months. I thought there might be a few other runners out there who may face a similar situation in the future. This article will discuss the process of fracture healing and how it affects the person with the injury. I want to thank Dr. Chad Carlson for getting me in for an X-ray and exam the same day as my crash.
The word fracture means the breaking of a bone. There are several different types of fractures. A compound fracture is when the skin is punctured, and a closed fracture is when the skin is intact. Some of the different types of fractures include: undisplaced, when the bone breaks but keeps its form; displaced, when the broken ends separate; incomplete, when the fracture only penetrates part of the bone; and complete, when the break goes through the whole bone. There are also comminuted, segmental, butterfly, spiral, and hairline fractures, all of which describe a different pattern of how the bone breaks.
When a bone breaks it goes through phases as it heals. After the initial impact these phases include inflammation, soft callus, hard callus, and remodeling. The inflammation phase lasts for 2-3 weeks from the time of the fracture. During this phase the bleeding from the bone and the surrounding soft tissues cause swelling and irritation around the fracture site. This is when immobilization of the fracture site is needed to ensure proper bone alignment.
The next phase is the soft callus phase (callus refers to bone material between the bones of the fracture site). This part of the healing lasts from week 4 to week 8 following the fracture. During this time the new bone is being formed and stiffens after being “sticky” during its initial healing.
Third is the hard callus phase, which happens between weeks 8 and 12 from the fracture. The new bone fills the whole fracture site during this time-frame.
Last is the remodeling phase. Over the next several years mechanical forces continue to help promote bone healing in proper form. This is when the callus is replaced with new bone.
During the first few phases of bone healing activity should be limited in order to ensure proper bone formation and prevent nonunion (when the fracture does not heal together) or malunion (when it heals in an improper way). Once the fracture is stable, range of motion exercises should be incorporated as to regain proper motion. As the range of motion increases and pain decreases, strength building is started to regain the muscle that has been lost during the time of decreased activity. Each fracture is different. Consult your health care provider regarding the specific details of your situation.
My plan is to take it easy for the first few weeks. Walking will be my main form of exercise at that point. At 4-6 weeks stationary bicycling may be an option. Light running can resume around the 8 week point, depending on the comfort level. If discomfort is present I will wait a few days and then try running again covering the distance that is tolerable.
While the fractured part of the body is healing, the body starts to compensate or find new ways to do the activities that need to be done. This may mean that you now do all of your daily tasks with one arm or walk with crutches using only one leg. Because of this the injured person gets used to doing activities in a different way. After bone healing is at a point that regular activity can resume, it is important to realize these compensations. As tolerated, start to use the affected body part in order to regain proper functional ability. This concept is just as important to remember as working on specific exercises to regain the motion and strength needed to do your daily activities.
There are other issues to remember during the time that a fracture is healing. One is remembering to eat a balanced diet and take in your recommended allowance of daily calcium to help bone healing and vitamin D to aid the proper absorption of calcium. Make sure to get enough sleep and avoid doing too much activity during the early phases. Also, remember to be patient with the healing process and do not get discouraged. The body was created to heal itself and worrying about it will not speed things along. Before you know it, the fracture will be healed and you will be back out running.
This is the year that I decided to run another marathon. It has been 10 years since I ran my first, which has been enough time to forget about most of the pain of the event. Over the past decade I have enjoyed mainly doing Olympic distance triathlons and half marathon distance races.
I have always wanted to do a fundraising event associated with one of my races. The cause that I selected for my Race 4 Health fundraiser is Compassion International’s Medical Assistance Fund. The money raised will provide the means for impoverished kids around the world to receive the medical care that they need.
Please see my fundraising page at Race 4 Health. I would appreciate your support with this worthy cause.
Todd, Tom and Tyler after the Okoboji Triathlon
My dad and I have a tradition of competing in the University of Okoboji Triathlon every summer. We started our tradition 20 years ago, when my mom’s cousin challenged us to do the event. We have stuck with it ever since. My dad, Tom, turned 60 this year and keeps committing to participate year after year.
The water on West Lake Okoboji is beautiful for the swim start. We enjoy the rolly bike course around the lake and look forward to the finish at Arnold’s Park after a scenic run.
The event continues to grow, with over 330 triathletes at this year’s race a few weeks ago. It usually gets hot early so the 7am start works well. The best part of our tradition is that I run back on the course, find my dad and run back with him for his finish. I am proud of my brother, Tyler, who also joined us at this year’s race.
Overall our tradition has been a great goal each summer, knowing we need to keep the training up to be able to race the .6 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 5.5 mile run event. I really enjoy our summer Okoboji ritual of family time and health. I would encourage you to find a family tradition centered around health as well. You will be blessed with many memories for years to come.
There are a few words that describe the 200 miles of TOMRV that I rode a few weeks ago: wet, fun, wet, hilly and wet. My assumption is that of the total mileage 75+ miles were in the rain. My socks were wet for well over 125 miles. All in all it was a great bike tour. I would highly recommend the ride for anyone wanting to challenge their endurance.
One of the highlights of the ride was the organized aid stations. There were about four places per day on the route that the TOMRV crew set up a pit stop with energy food, water, Gatorade and restrooms. This was great for refueling and taking a short break before hitting the road again. When riding for multiple hours, proper nutrition and hydration are essential, so having supplies readily available was wonderful.
No Iowa is not flat. A lot of people find this out on RAGBRAI. If you really want to experience hills, I would recommend TOMRV. There are over 10,000 feet of climbing on the ride over the two days. On day one the hills keep on coming. My favorite part of the ride was Blackjack Road near Galena, IL. The major hill was found at the 67 mile point of the day one 108 total mileage.
Day two of the ride also brought its share of ups and downs. The ride out of Dubuque was quite scenic as we rode through the Mines of Spain Park. Riding out of Bellevue was quite scenic as we entered the rural countryside with more rolly type hills versus the major climbs earlier in the day. The day continued with more rollers, ending with an 8% grade climb up to the Scott College parking lot where the ride ended.
Regarding the specifics of the rain, it pretty much started raining as we left Scott College on day one. We proceeded to get soaking wet through the first 40 miles. Dried out some before getting soaked again mid way through the ride. We did end day one dry except for the socks.
For day two we started in a dense fog, in which a flashing red tail light was a bonus. The fog cleared long enough for the storms to roll in. At one point we were riding in a down pour with lightning only miles away. We turned out of the storm 15 miles from the end and finished in the dry in time to get hit with another down-pour seconds after loading our gear into the pickup.
I definitely plan to do the ride again some time in the future and would recommend it to others. Make sure to get plenty of long and hilly rides in during training. This will help with your overall enjoyment of the challenging TOMRV tour.
Hydration is such an important issue, especially with the hot summer days approaching. It has been an issue that I have been working on personally over that past year, and I still find it hard to get in all the water I need each day. It is recommended that you drink eight or more 8 oz servings of water per day for normal daily needs. For those exercising or physical therapy patients recovering from injuries, even more fluids will be needed.
How Much H2O
One method to figure out your water intake for the day is to divide your body weight by two to find the total ounces per day for what you need. A 200 lb person would need 100 ounces of water.
When to Drink
It is important to hydrate before exercise, drinking 2-3 servings of water in the couple hours leading up to exercise.
During your workout you should drink one serving of water for every 10-15 minutes of activity. I recommend that athletes take water with them so they will be sure to drink while they are exercising, whether this is in the gym, on the bike or out running.
After a workout be sure to rehydrate within the first 15-30 minutes after activity for optimal recovery.
Burst Your Thirst
I just found out about a new program from Live Healthy Iowa, called Burst Your Thirst. This health promotion program runs from July 8 – August 19. It is a six week challenge to help people learn about their hydration needs. Check it out on their website.