Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Stages of Recovery

Ever notice how after a "big" race, you know, the kind that just utterly kicks your ass leaving you begging for mercy that your body goes through several stages of recovery until it is "back" to normal?

This season has brought on a bunch of those stages to the point that I can now understand which stage I am in; for example, I am currently in the "flat legs" stage. Here is how my body reacts within 4-5 days after one of these hard races (btw, these are usually Half Marathons and Half Ironman races that call for this long of a recovery):

Stage 1: Crossing the finish line
It starts right here. You went from Mach 3 to Turtle speed. You just went from long fluid strides to a sudden stop; and now after the volunteer has put that finishers medal around your kneck, Chewbacca has roared, and you have gotten your water and finisher's picture, walking is suddenly impossible. And this all happened within 120 seconds!
Stage 2: That afternoon
You are tightening up; once sat down, getting back up is like the 4th discipline of that triathlon. Walking around sucks and suddenly that hunger strikes. You become demonic in search of food, your 4th meal in the past 2 hours since you crossed the finish line. That camel hump on you back is increasing in size as you guzzle gallon after gallon of water.
Stage 3: The Morning After
You wake up, spring out of bed a little sore, but am surprised to be not that sore. You go, "It happened! You are finally to "that level" that you can take the abuse. you are gonna go run a marathon now! Unfortunately its Monday and you have to go to work. You still haven't peed yet.
Stage 4: The WTF Tightening
Throughout Monday, sitting at your desk, you start getting REALLY uncomfortable. Every time you get up to refill your glass of water, it hurts more and more. By 3PM the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is REALLY getting bad. You ask yourself, "Why is the soreness showing up NOW? I finished 28 hours ago!?!?!" You still haven't peed yet.
Stage 5: The REAL soreness
That night, approaching post race 36 hours, you get home, and once sat, there is NO getting back up. You are locked up and the muscles that hurt now, will hurt the worst till the end of the year it seems....
Stage 6: Tenderness
48 hours post race, you are getting more limber, but even laying a finger on those quads muscles is like going in for that prostate exam. OUCH!!! It feels like Joe Peschie took swing lessons with his Good Fellas baseball bat to your legs for the length of a Half Ironman. When your significant other goes to hug you, you awkwardly shake their hand, because you know its easier and less painful. Your significant other is thoroughly confused......if only they understood!!!!
Stage 7: The Break
Its like the cold "broke." The tenderness is gone. You can bend over, sit down, even get back onto the bike! The worst is behind you. You start coming out of the fog of the race and you start to understand what you did wrong and what you did right. Maybe going all Lance Armstrong on the bike wasn't the brightest idea afterall.....
Stage 8: Evacuation
Remember all of that water you have been chugging over the last 3 days that just wouldn't come out? Wondering why your body weight has sky rocketed? Well remember the weight cuz the slogan "pissing like a race horse" is about to become reality!!! Good thing your cube is only 15 feet from the rest room, cuz you are about to do intervals my friend!!! GUSH!!! And remind your coworkers that you don't have a drug problem and you don't need VESIcare. You just gotta GO!!!
Stage 9: Flat Legs
The tenderness is gone. You lost that 10 pounds of water weight because your body is no longer feeling like its gonna undergo another 6 hour torture fest. Survival mode is over! You can run, you can bike, but you can't go fast. That extra gear is missing......and its frustrating.
Stage 10: Somewhat Normal
From hear on its mostly mental and easing back into it. When will the appropriate time be to go hard again and knock off some of those memorable screaming fast workouts? Who knows when! But your body will let it happen when its ready to. You will have one of those workouts where you start off easy with the flat legs and you aren't sure what you want to do and before you know it you are flying! You finally broke that rust off the engine as if that old skin has fallen off and you are ready to rock it for your next big adventure. Don't force the recovery. Your body knows better than your over eager brain :)

And if you want some recovery diet advice, I always recommend the brownie sunday method. Its good for the soul and you deserve it!


  1. Hmmmmm....I can't say I experienced THAT! Sounds like some major suffering....

    No worse than suffering through an John Hughes 80's TV marathon on a Thursday night (oh, right, you were just born then...

  2. Hi little bro,
    God, you crack me up...I couldn't help but giggle through most of this post! I am all for your recovery diet...Mmmm, brownie sunday sounds pretty darn good:)

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Ha..This post is awesome and sooo true! Love it!

  4. I start peeing as soon as I finish the race – it is like my body is holding all possible liquid in and then once I stop – BAM. I’ll pee all day and all night. But I almost never have to pee during the race.

  5. Except for the peeing that is spot on!! For some reason I am a pee machine as soon as the race ends. It's like my brain and body have some secret pact that I can finally pee as soon as the race ends.

    Stage 4 is the best. The next day your always like, "Wow I am not that sore?" and then the next day after that you begin to think your joints took the day off!

  6. Wow, I think I'll delay getting into longer races for awhile.

  7. I find the brownie sunday recovery method to be a remedy for almost all ailments! :-)

  8. great and funny post, same here as I never fell like peeing in the race only after.

  9. It is amazing how much of what you said here hold amazingly TRUE!

    Awesome post!!

  10. This is awesome. EXACTLY how I feel after a marathon, so at least I know what to expect to feel after HIM.

    You had me laughing and nodding through the whole thing.

  11. Well, shit, I should have read this BEFORE yesterday. Right now I'm at Stage 3...and I'm not gonna leave can't make me leave stage 3, I'm strong enough to stay here...(right?).
    Gee what good times I have ahead of me. I'll make Britney read this so she can prepare.

  12. Dont forget in stage 2, you are beyond exhausted, yet, more matter how hard you try, you can fall asleep for a nap


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