“Recovery Day”

“Hey Brooke, do you know what ‘recovery’ is??

“…uhhh… I think so.  I’m working on it.”

“Working on it would not be coming to the gym today.”

This was the brief and to-the-point conversation between my CrossFit trainer and myself yesterday morning during the WOD.  Because of the Seattle Marathon on Sunday, I hadn’t planned on going to CrossFit yesterday.  But I woke up feeling strangely good – the kind of good you feel after taking a week off to sit on the beach in Hawaii or after taking a month off from drinking or on the best day of your life.  I wasn’t sore, I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t dehydrated.  I felt great.  To be clear: I almost never feel good, let alone great the morning after a half or full marathon.  With nothing else to do but start work or go back to sleep, I decided to get up and give CrossFit a whirl.

I was greeted at CrossFit by the exact opposite of what I wanted from a WOD: Squats followed by 10 x 200 m sprints every couple of minutes.  I almost walked out the door, but I was already there so decided to give it a whirl.  I did brilliantly, moving up 2kg. in the squat and making decent time on the sprints… until I was called out.  And I deserved to be called out.  I totally forgot about the most important part of training and recovering from a marathon: recovery day.

I think that one of the reasons I felt (and continue to feel) so good post-Seattle Marathon is that I started the recovery process a full week in advance.  I tapered my workouts, not hitting the gym after Wednesday and settling for a 2-mile run on Thursday before hanging up my running shoes until race day.  I drank an inhumane amount of water all week long and knocked out alcohol and coffee, opting for peppermint and green tea instead.  I stretched.  I slept 8 hours every night.  I spent a lot of time on my foam roller.  I raced strong for two hours and took time afterward to hydrate and replenish (instead of partaking in the usual Sunday Funday).  I took a long walk to watch the sun set over Seattle on Sunday night and went to bed early – really early.  I forgot to continue recovery when I woke up on Monday morning simply because I’d been in recovery mode for a whole week already.

But that’s no excuse.  I owe it to my body and my progress as a runner and athlete to continue to work my way back to normal from race day.  It usually takes about a week to hit my stride again, at which point I’ll embark upon my offseason training plan – four runs of 30-95 minutes for a total of 25-35 miles per week, plus at least three days of CrossFit.  This week’s plan is simple: CrossFit two times, plus one long-ish slow run and one quick 5k.  No intervals, no tempo runs, no hill climbs.  Just enough to keep my muscles happy and burning ever so slightly.

So.  Recovery Day.  How should one spend it?  By my best estimation, it should be spent doing only the things that you couldn’t do if you were training.  For me, this means the following: decorating the Christmas tree, spending some time at a museum, blogging, and window shopping at Nordstrom.  Tonight, I’ll cook dinner and watch a little too much television and probably go to bed at an unacceptably early hour – but only because I’m a really cool person with a killer social life.  I’ll do nothing responsible (okay… except for a quick doctor visit) and I won’t apologize about it.  It’s my recovery day and I’ll spend it how I like – how do you like to spend yours?

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