Monday, April 27, 2009

The road to recovery

Obviously, running a marathon takes a lot out of you. If there's one thing I've learned from the eleven marathons I've completed, it's that you can never predict just how much damage each one will inflict upon your body.

For example, the almost all downhill Colorado Marathon last year dealt a big blow to my quads and an even bigger one to my psyche, but I was still able to bounce back from both fairly quickly and run two more marathons, and a few shorter races, in the next 2.5 months. Ten weeks after Colorado, I qualified for Boston at the Missoula Marathon. You would expect that running a marathon faster than you ever have before would also leave you feeling more sore than ever before, but that wasn't the case. The day after Missoula I honestly did not feel like I had run a marathon. In fact, I felt so good after Missoula that I raced a 10.4 miler (Heart of the Hills from Hill City to Keystone) just 6 days later and ran it much faster than I had two years ago. Even after Colorado, which took much more of a toll than Missoula, I raced a 5K and finished in a decent time on a hilly course two weeks later.

And then there's Boston. Boston is like no other marathon in the world, so I guess it's appropriate that it took a toll on my body like no other marathon has. For the first couple of days after the race, I felt what I would call a normal amount of soreness. After every other marathon I've run, I've been able to go out for a short 4 miler on the third day after the race. I tried this last Thursday and made it a block before I realized that it was a bad idea. Specifically, my quads were screaming for mercy. So, I walked back to the house, resigned to trying again the next day. On Friday morning, I did manage to run a full 3 miles, albeit very, very slowly and my quads were extremely tight the whole time. But, my legs felt pretty good afterwards and I thought I was on the road to recovery (generally my legs start feeling much better once I start running again and getting some blood flowing). On Saturday morning, my legs felt really good so I headed out for what I hoped would be a 5 miler. But, as soon as I started running, my quads tightened up again. I did run 4 miles, but when I got back my quads were extremely sore and it was painful to go up and down steps or to stand up and sit down. You know it's bad when your son says "Daddy, are you grabbing the sink like that because your legs hurt?" as you struggle to get up off the john. So, Sunday and today are rest days with the hopes that my quads will be in a better mood tomorrow (I can now stand up, sit down and maneuver stairs with only minimal grimacing, so things are improving).

One would think that after running a 26.2 mile race, I would be content to sit on my butt for awhile. But that's not the case with me. Something about racing lights a fire in my head and just makes me want to do it more (hence racing Heart of the Hills after Missoula last year). Right now, it's hard to believe that I've ever been able to race within a week of a marathon, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to. Now, I don't plan on racing until my birthday on May 23rd (the Fat Tire Challenge Trail Race in Rapid City), so it's not as if my next race is imminent. I just want to feel like I could do it if the opportunity arose.

Patience is not a virtue of mine, especially when trying to practice it with my own body. I'm trying my damndest to be smart about my recovery and take it as easy as necessary, but damn it, I just want to run again. Anyone know of a doctor who performs quad transplants??


jen said...

Haha, you poor thing. Give it a few more days! To be honest, I always get a little sad when I'm not sore anymore.. enjoy it! :D

Max said...

Have you read the book "Why We Run" by Bernd Heinrich? I've been gaining inspiration by reading the book and your posts to run more and more lately. I have too much to do already, so I am limiting myself to 5K distances.

jbuttars said...

Congrats on your race! I follow Shannon on Spark and have been interested in how it would go for you since you qualified. Amazingly, I "knew" two people who ran Boston this year, and you are both from SD. My cousin Tim also ran it.

Anyway, keep on resting those legs. See if you can go get a massage....

Best wishes!

Chris said...

Okay, it's been a few days since my post and it is getting better. I ran 5 miles each of the last two days and my quads didn't scream for mercy during or after the runs. My legs feel like they've been filled with lead, but that's pretty normal for the week after a marathon. So, things are looking up.

Max, I haven't read that book but I have heard of it. I'll have to check it out sometime. That's cool that you're getting into running. 5Ks are a lot more than a lot of people are willing to try. Maybe next time we meet up in Missoula we can go on a trail run/birdwatching trip.