Training peaked this weekend and I ran my final 13.1 miles in 1:52.3 and it is now officially time to celebrate the taper. Last Saturday was the final long run of the season, pushing all TnT runners to their limits. Training run, yes, but I still wanted to get a decent time.
I made sure not to have a repeat of the last training run and had a long yoga session on Friday to stretch out, a healthy fuel-filled dinner and a solid breakfast Saturday morning with tons of water chugging throughout the week.
What a difference nutrition can make on a performance- that and no wind! I absolutely impressed myself feeling good most of the entire run, even keeping at an 8:25 pace for the first half. As solid as the run was and as positive as I was feeling, my muscles were screaming toward the end and tightening up too quickly for me to stretch them out.
Once I finished, I knew it was time to give into the ever-so-popular ice bath. Ice bath recovery, when done properly and regularly, can speed up the recovery process of your body and help improve your overall athletic performance.
After an intense activity, like a long run or a set of short sprints, your muscles experience micro trauma, creating small tears in the tissue. Because of the very low temperature, an ice bath is a great treatment for muscle soreness, strain, and inflammation, preventing the breakdown of muscle tissues. The cold water will stimulate muscle cells to start repairing the muscle tears, speeding recovery tremendously. Ice baths can also help flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles.
Many of my fellow athletic friends swear by ice baths have told me numerous times that I need to start adding ice baths to my recovery routine, given the number of miles I cover in a week. But, training in the winter is cold enough and after running outside in below freezing temps for a few hours, the last thing I want to do is soak in a tub of ice.
However with my race only three weeks away, speeding up muscle recovery after a run is necessary. So, I stopped at a drug store on the way home and picked up a couple bags of ice along with a hot cup of coffee, hoping it would keep me somewhat warm during the process (it didn't).
Getting into the ice-filled tub took some talking into. I was already freezing because I stupidly forgot to bring a change of clothes for a post-run switch. It’s easy to forget when you don’t think you will be sweating much in the thirty degree weather, but I definitely suffered from a bad case of the chills.
I finally got the nerve to get in and soaked in a sweatshirt and bathing suit bottoms for about ten minutes, shivering and teeth chattering the entire time. At first all I could feel was a burning sensation from the cold. After that subsided, I could tell the ice was doing its job mending my ripped and ruptured muscles
My muscles are still a bit sore, especially my calves, but I’m sure it is much better then it would have been without the ice bath. I think I need to take it easier this week on the mileage, do some more cross training and let my body fully recover from an intense two-week training regime. Only 18 days until the run and it’s time to taper along with lots of yoga, nutrition and sleep.