Respecting The Recovery

Tyler says hi.

Do you like my tiny vest? It keeps my central body cool but allows me the freedom to flail my arms about like a propeller.

Last weekend, I ran 10 miles. By now I don’t remember the run at all, but I do remember how I felt afterward.


So tired.

Perhaps “exhausted” is a more accurate word.

My run, from what I not-so-vividly remember, wasn’t fast nor furious. But it knocked me out.

I spent the rest of my day doing nothing. I think I went to Fairway at one point, but even that took a toll on me. The Saturday crossword wore me out, too.

Nailed it. (I think it’s time to stop even trying.)

Then, this weekend, it happened again.

Even though I’m not training for anything (yet…), I do love getting a quality workout in on Saturdays. Sometimes I’ll go down to Union Square for Matt P.’s ridiculously fun spin class at Crunch. But this weekend, I was feeling a run.

OK so this was Friday. STILL RELEVANT. Ish.

I took my time getting ready and headed toward Central Park around 10 AM.

Something magical happened in the park. I felt awesome. Those weird stomach pains I’d been having all week? Mysteriously disappeared!

I just ran and ran and smiled and waved to the billions of familiar faces in the park. A highlight: seeing my email buddies, Emma and and Kristina, in I Heart Sweat shirts, being fast and adorable.

I cruised toward the lower loop of the park, figuring I’d just lap it once before heading up the west side and eventually onto the Bridle Path.

But I couldn’t get away from that lower loop.

So I just kept circling it.

And circling it.

And circling it.

Until, eventually, I had racked up double digit miles from that 1.79 mile loop, and figured I should stop running, lest I get injured. Or late for the party I had to go to later that night.

Maybe it’s because my pace didn’t matter and I didn’t have a planned route or mileage number, but this run was just one of the good ones.

A year ago, a run like this would have fired me up for the weekend.

I would have showered, eaten, rallied and then spent the day walking around the city, running errands, seeing stuff and probably stealing puppies, basking in my runner’s high.

But this Saturday?

Hardly the case.

This run kicked my butt, just like last weekend’s.

I showered, I made myself an amazing lunch…

Grilled ham and cheese sandwich. With the GOOD cheese. And the CHEAP ham. And baby carrots and a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup. Perfection, man. PERFECTION ON A PAPER PLATE.

…and then I parked myself on the couch.

Until 7 PM.

I could not get moving.

I don’t know if it’s 27 years of being on the go finally catching up with me, or if I’m just getting older…but running makes me tired now!

I also blame the weather. It was warm all weekend, but it was also gray and dark for the most part. Why would I even attempt being productive or doing something in the great outdoors when the weather is practically begging me to stay on the couch?

Truth be told: I’ve always been terrible about recovery. I don’t stretch, I forget to foam roll, I don’t properly refuel or rehydrate and I don’t really respect the physical work I’ve just done.

So maybe this is my body’s way of being smarter than my active brain.

Not a bad thing, right?

It’s a good lesson for me to hang onto as I start thinking about training for my next goal race: If I want to race well and run strong, I need to focus more on my recovery. I used to love being really productive on weekends and I used Saturdays and Sundays to do everything I didn’t get to during the week. But now I’m learning to be content sitting on my bum as the hours pass, leaving that To Do list for…another weekend.

I’m learning to re-think “lazy” as a more accurate “smart recovery.”

And just because I didn’t accomplish a whole lot since Friday doesn’t mean my entire weekend was a wash.

I did a few really “productive” things.

I went out for my friend Lauren’s Bachelorette Party #2.

Hey, bride. Almost time to scoot down the aisle.

I swept the apartment.

Or, parts of it at least.

I did dishes.

Most of them.

I took out the trash.

Such a beautiful city.

And I conquered one of my New Year’s Resolutions!

Meh. Half of one, at least.

I used this trusty guide I had ripped out of an old issue of Glamour…

Fishtailing made easy. If Nicole Scherzinger’s professional hairstylist can do it, SO CAN YOU.

…and, sitting on the couch at 2:30 PM on Sunday, I fishtail braided half of my unwashed ponytail.

I could have kept going and finished the braid, but truthfully I felt like I got the hang of it. And I got bored. Plus, I was recovering. No major efforts needed.


Good enough. Excuse the bottom of my rat tail. It’s dirty.

Also, just for the record, my other resolutions are coming along quite well, too, which is impressive since, you know, we’re a whole two weeks into 2013.

I’m successfully keeping my belongings out of the corners of our little apartment. Do you want to know why? Because someone else has taken over all my spots.

THIS IS ALL BRIAN’S STUFF. I would say mean things about Brian since he’s messy, but he spent the weekend with the stomach flu, so I’ll give him a break. If, however, I catch his bug? It’s going down. I will call him all the mean words I know.

I’m pretty sure Brian wanted my stuff out of the corners not so this place could look neater and nicer, but so he could use them for his own personal storage. Clearly a resolutionary act of selfishness.

I’ve also begun trimming my Google Reader, which feels great, and I’ve slashed a handful of crazies (translation: nutritionists who make me feel guilty for eating anything other than “green juice”) from my Twitter follow list. Why food cleanse when you can online cleanse for an equally refreshing, renewing, healthy feeling?

One final thing:

It is clementine season. But last week, a very tragic thing happened. I was eating my morning clem at work when I found an errant seed in the little citrus fruit.

I always peel around the middle first, so it looks like the clem is wearing an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, clementiney cute bikini. Or a clementiney top hat. And clementine underwear.

Now, here’s the thing with clementine seeds. One of two things is going to happen when your clementine has a hidden seed in it:

1. You are going to bite down on the seed, and those suckers are solid. Ouch.

2. The seed is exceptionally slippery. When you eat a clementine and it has a seed, that seed is going to slide down your gullet, you’re going to choke and then BAM! Unexpected death by clementine.

In either scenario, no good is coming from one of those clemseeds.

I just made that term up. Clemseed. You can use it.

With all that, I advise you to recover wisely from your workouts, keep trucking along with those New Year’s Resolutions and beware the stray clemseed.

Tyler says bye.

I am awesome. I am great at being a baby. I do baby things all day, like sleep, eat and poop my pants. I am Al Roker.

TYLER AND I BOTH WANT TO KNOW: Are you good about recovery or are you a post-run on-the-go person? And for fun, what’s your favorite way to recover? I’m partial to sweatpants, TV and ice cream.



33 Responses

  1. I have learned VERY slowly how to be good at recovery. I just went to a coaches training done by Jack Daniels and he stresses the need for rest days and he has trained olympians so I gotta believe him!! haha The one thing I have learned that helps immensely is FOAM roller! (and listen to body)

  2. I am not so great at recovery, but I don’t remember HAVING to recover last time I trained for a marathon, unless you count a huge brunch! I always plan my weekends counting on feeling just fine Saturday night, like last time… but that sure isn’t the reality. Training feels SO.MUCH.HARDER this time around!

  3. I completely suck at recovery. Like you I don’t fuel correctly, hydrate correctly or stretch like I should. I do however enjoy sitting my arse on the couch after a good long run and do that if I can but sometimes that makes my muscles a little less than happy too. One of my resolutions is to try (note TRY not DO) to stretch and cross train more.

  4. I’m counting down the days until “WTF” becomes an acceptable crossword answer. Us younguns need a break from “obscure 1950s singers/movies” every once in a while.

  5. Your Celmen-tini (also sounds like it could be a fancy tropical drink) just made me spit my coffee onto my keyboard. Hilarity.

    Cleaning out online to reduce guilt? Amen. My Monday morning tradition is to ‘Mark As Read’ everything that’s in my Google Reader. If I really wanted to read it, I’d have read it already!

    After a really hard effort, I like to pretend that I’m going to be productive. I get fed, cleaned up, and sit down to work. Then, I get drowsy and either drool on my keyboard (my keyboard takes a lot of abuse, apparently), or get up and putter around to stay awake. Ultimately, I’m probably just about as productive as if I succumbed to the lounge & nap style recovery. 🙂

  6. Recovery. What’s that? And what are these carrots you’re eating. Who are you and what have you done with Ali?!
    I do actually take relaxing “me” time on weekends despite my type A alter ego telling me I’m being lazy. It allows me to recharge my batteries, so to speak.

  7. I used to hate recovery time but over the years I’ve learned to embrace them. I’ve even coined them, “Fat Dog Days” as in where I do nothing but sit on my couch, watch movies, read magazines and eat. They usually end up being my best days ever. 🙂

  8. I think I’m only good at recovery because my body doesn’t give me any other choice. When I start getting into double digit runs, I can barely even make it into sweatpants; I’ve been known to shower, get in my bathrobe, and climb back into bed. So sorry, so old.

  9. I’m awful at recovering. I rarely stretch or foam roll (until my hips/it bands are so tight I can’t sleep). I do drink a ton of water and sometimes I schedule professional sports massages after races (OK I did that twice and really, I want to do it every time). I’ll have to add ice cream to the list.

  10. Well, I am good in recovery in that I do spend a decent amount of time lounging. But the whole foam roll/stretching thing….umm right. I last about 30 seconds before I am bored and just hop in the shower and order delivery. Nothing like a delicious sandwich to aide recovery. Made by someone else obviously.

  11. Up until this past year, I wouldn’t do anything after long runs. Well, I’d come home, shower, sleep, wake up and then start day drinking with my friends. Now… I shower, foam roll, then sleep. And then I sit on my couch and watch TV all day. So basically the same thing… but adding the foam rolling and subtracting the binge drinking. Elite athlete material right here.

  12. I am horrible about recovery – Typically after a long run I drink beer, eat pizza, and follow it up with late night partying. As of two weeks ago, I have figured out this does not end well for me.

    I decided to take it easy yesterday. I plowed through 11 miles in 30 degree weather, and then went home, made fresh juice, stretched, and showered… Followed by sweats, pho, and a movie with the husband. Am I still a bit sore today? YES! Apparently I should have foam rolled too, but I think I will spin tonight and see if that helps. For some reason the run has meaning and the stretching seems anticlimatic. Glad to hear I am not alone…

    Good work running long and strong!

  13. You must reminded me to eat the clementine I have in my lunch bag! Thank you! As far as recovery goes, I am good at stretching after I run at home on training runs, but not after races because you are always hanging out at post race festivities and there’s never any where to lay down and stretch on the winter…And, I used to always make a fruit smoothie with whey protein and instead, I crave my Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee after all my workouts.

  14. I try to stretch and foam roll before parking myself on the couch for a good hour or two to watch trashy TV shows I missed from the week. And as for a recovery ritual, I always HAVE to have a Coke right after a run… weird, right? (It’s usually the only time during the week I have a soda!)

  15. If by recover you mean have a bloody mary brunch and then pass out in bed snuggling with your dog, I AM AMAZING AT IT. Waking up a dehydrated mess? Minor side effect.

  16. I am awful about recovery, and every time I have a good workout, I end up regretting it because of the misery I feel the next couple of days. Also, too many of my last clementine box had seeds. That just ain’t right.

  17. I’m good at recovery, I love being lazy. Ironically after yesterday’s long run (9 miles) I was going to do a slow recovery run today but my calves hurt soooo much that I’ve changed my mind. I wore heels this weekend and now I can’t run!!!

  18. I’m so-so at recovery. I feel like I’ve got the sit around and do nothing part down, but the eat the right foods, stretch, foam roll part is a work in progress. I have good intentions to do all those things, but it doesn’t always happen.

  19. I ran 15 miles yesterday. Then spent the rest of the day on the couch. Until I moved to my bed to nap, went out to buy a salad, and sat back on my couch.

    I don’t remember marathon training being this exhausting. Holy goodness, that was exhausting!

  20. I’m trying to get better at recovery, because when I actually stretch I feel that much better. I recovered yesterday with Chipotle AND a shake from Cold Stone. I won’t even tell you how long my “long” run was!

  21. I don’t own a foam roller, but I usually stretch. Then I ice anything achy while I lay on the couch, wearing compression sleeves and inhaling a cookie or something. Gotta make up for those calories I lost, right?

  22. i actually find my hair braids best when it’s dirty. fishtail is my fav way to hide the fact that i didnt shower on days i go into work 🙂

    sweat, foam rolling, football and (sometimes) beer are my fav recovery methods

  23. I’m not good about recovery in the eat well, drink well, stretch and foam roll sense. But I am amazing at recovery in the “sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing” sense. I even recover that way on weekends when I have absolutely nothing to recover from! I couldn’t even get off the couch to juice the bag of clementines we bought as a way to test out the new citrus juicer my uncle got us. I just really, really respect the recovery.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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