Thursday, January 24, 2013

Post-Marathon Recovery is a Pain in the Big Toe

So, you ran a marathon. What have you done for me lately? This is what I asked myself this morning, as I sat here grinning ear-to-ear knowing that my morning run had been pushed back a day, leaving me to, well, pester you all.

I am still a newbie when it comes to recovery efforts, and I usually end up doing something I regret later, so I am really trying to take it easy in these first few weeks back - you know, before I roll over into 50K training.  Luckily, this time around, I am still so fatigued from the effort of running the marathon that any major jumps in activity have been impossible.

Here's the breakdown of what I have done since the 26.2:

First Week: OFF, except for walking around everywhere on vacation
Sunday: 6 miles treadmill, slow and with walk breaks
Monday: 2 miles track, slow, followed by approx. 2 miles on the elliptical
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: 4 miles treadmill, slow and with walk breaks
Today: OFF

I am not too bothered by the general fatigue I have been feeling.  I know by following up the race with a week of vacation that I didn't exactly optimize my recovery: food choices weren't the best, too much wine and/or beer, and generally not a lot of sleep.  I accept the fact that it might take a few weeks to get back up to snuff. 

Right now, though, I am trying very hard to balance getting back into the swing of things with not overdoing it.  I count myself lucky that I didn't pull something during the marathon where I would now have to deal with that.  In fact, unlike when I did Lakefront Marathon a year and a half ago - where I had pains that cropped up from the start and I had to deal with them the entire race - Disney was mostly uneventful.  I was pretty comfortable running the entire time - except for getting tired towards the end.  The only complaint my body made had to do with my feet.  The pounding really got to them after a while.

In fact, maybe not surprisingly then, the strangest fallout from the marathon has been a lingering soreness at the base of one of my big toes.  It's a strange sort of soreness, and it didn't crop up until three days post-marathon.  I was doing toe lifts.  Don't ask me why.  I think I was amazed that my feet still worked after all the pounding they had taken.  Anyway, I was wiggling my toes around, isolating my big toes, lifting them, etc., showing off to myself essentially how strong my feet were, until they weren't.

See, apparently, doing toe lifts a few days post-marathon just because you can is a dumb idea, because not long after doing this little exercise in foot-strenghth ego-feeding, I developed this weird pain.  It's weird in that it doesn't hurt to walk or run, and it doesn't hurt to lift or move my toe around.  It hurts though when it is touched.  In fact, it's bothered by actions as benign as putting a sock on or having the shower water fall on it.  I have no idea what that means....irritated a nerve?  Pulled a tendon?  Also, I would say that big toe doesn't move as snappily as the other.  It seems a little slow on the uptake.

This seems like only something I could do, and I want to smack myself on the forehead every time I think of it.  After all, who needs to be doing toe lifts on the beach anyway?  At the time, it was probably the only part of me that WASN'T sore.  Now it's the only part of me that is.  Go figure.  Luckily, it is not an "OW!" sort of pain, more of an "I-wonder-what-that's-about" sort of pain.  In other words, I can live with it assuming it doesn't get worse.

In the meantime, I have gotten onto those resolutions I mentioned a few posts back and I have started the core program Hubby found.  The program involved a couple of arm-weight exercises yesterday, and now my arms are sore, too.  It's nice to have balance, right? 

Happy Running!

How do you handle post-race recovery?  Any tips or tricks?

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