...and recovering from an ultramarathon. Sometimes the best way to improve is by taking a break, for a bit. Taking a step away, letting something heal, letting something get stronger or gaining perspective can give you the advantage you've been in need of. In running, this might mean sleeping more, walking more, working on core strength, upper body or doing some lower body rehab and maintenance exercises. During my recovery from the American River 50 Miler I have experienced a side of running that I normally have not focused on too much which is resting and healing without becoming or feeling out of shape. Being my first 50 Miler, my body was particularly shocked by the distance covered in one day and it has been taking longer than I anticipated to heal. Shortly after the race, I was running again but not feeling as if I was making any gains. The running during the first two weeks after the 50 miler solidified my running endurance and fitness gained from the 50. However, I still felt sluggish because I was experiencing aches and pains around my knees. These were tendon, ligament and maybe cartilage related issues. Things that required rest to rejuvenate.
I forced myself to take a week off from running and all exercise. I still took some nice walks though. The first thing I noticed after a couple days of rest was that I felt strong. After that week, I started small and began running again. I also incorporated more strength/weight training into my routine. The combination of rest, strengthening muscles that I hadn't used much and easing back into running with shorter and mid-range runs has been effective in my recovery process from the ultramarathon (the American River 50 Mile).