In the first full week after the race I had one run in my training plan. A gentle 7 or so miles at an easy pace. Not so much a run to test my fitness. It’s a run to surface any niggles, sores or points of concern.
The thing is, ultras really hurt you. They are the ultimate in wear and tear in running. You simply cannot do massive distances, on tough terrain and at a decent clip without it having an effect. Tendons get strained, muscles get fatigued and issues which were nothing more than a slight pain can explode into the injury which sidelines a runner for months on end.
I’d run Clydestride in July and then the West Highland Way (97 miles) over two days. Then I’d trained towards Glenmore. That’s 8-10 weeks on intense training and racing.
Luckily I have a coach to do the thinking for me, but even I know that my body needs a rest. The day after Glenmore I was crawling upstairs, the day after that I was able to negotiate then 13 Giant’s Causeway sized steps without holding the handrail or wishing that the chairlift salesman would chap the door. Come Friday I went a run.
I knew post the 24-hour I had a few pain points. But as a guy who does a decent amount of miles, I am usually quite attuned to the difference between an oncoming injury, or a niggle I can work through.
But patience and recovery is extremely important. What might seem like an easy effort before a big race can appear a massive effort after if you haven’t recovered properly.
I shake my head with disdain when I see someone run an ultra, or a marathon or any big effort at any given weekend, then see them on Strava the next day doing 15 miles and calling it “rubbish run” or “shite”. The accumulation of miles can be akin to an addiction, but like any addiction it can have some adverse side-effects. I shake my head as I have been guilty of this in the past, you know, being the stupid soldier thinking a pain filled 5k is much more valuable than a rest. Recovery is now one of the most important parts of my training regime.
So, my advice to anyone who will listen, is take the time to recover from a race. It doesn’t matter what length. However long you think you might need will probably be not long enough. Be wise, play the long game and don’t try to bash through post-run issues for the sake of kudos on Strava or a Facebook thumbs-up. Do what is right for you because it is the right thing to do.
Train hard, train smarter, run faster, run longer. Run for longer.