Marathon Recovery

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I thought I’d write down a few thoughts on what it was like getting back to full fitness after the Dublin Marathon last October. Maybe it might be of help to some first-timer in the future. Or maybe it might just serve as a reminder to myself what I’m getting myself in for if I do another one 🙂

  • Immediately after the marathon, I had a big bowl of pasta, plenty of fluids, got home, wrapped myself up in a duvet and fell asleep on the couch. Probably not the best idea, in terms of aiding recovery, but I didn’t feel like doing much else at the time.
  • That night, and the next day, my legs and hips were in a right auld state. Getting up and down the stairs was an ordeal, but less so if I went down backwards.
  • Suprisingly enough, the soreness and stiffness healed quite rapidly. A couple of days later, I was pretty happy going for a half-hour walk, apart for the odd wince from the pains in my hips.
  • Everything I had read before the race had said it would take three, four or even five weeks to fully recover.
  • Once the aches and pains started subsiding, I was sure I’d be 100% again after another week. That wasn’t to be, and the lingering problems were fairly subtle.
  • After about ten days or so, I went to the gym for the first time feeling great and started lashing into a weights session. Only ten minutes into it, though, and my energy had completely disappeared. That was to be a theme over the next few weeks … a complete lack of energy reserves.
  • It probably took five weeks before I did my first really solid hour of cardio work in the gym.
  • I tried my first run a couple of weeks after the race and went out with very low expectations. I even cycled to the seafront, rather than starting from the house. The first few hundred metres were complete agony with the bones in my feet screaming “no!” at me, and then after only a couple of km shin splints set in and I just gave up and strolled back to my bike.
  • A good four weeks after the marathon, I went to donate blood and was turned away for being a bit anemic, which never happened before. After that, I started taking some good multi-vitamins and that seemed to help sort me out.

Enough moaning. It wasn’t all that bad, really, but interesting to see just how much time it took.

Next time? I think I’d take the recovery aspect a bit more seriously, do research beforehand on and come up with a plan for immediately after, and for the weeks after. I’d imagine the slow recovery was largely down to me being totally naive about it and refusing to really put any effort into helping the process along.

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Steady Aleksey

It’s fairly fascinating to look at people’s segment paces from the adidas Dublin Marathon 2007, but race winner Aleksey Sokolov certainly shows how it’s done:

  • From start to 10k: 03:05/km
  • From 10k to halfway: 03:03/km
  • From halfway to 30k: 03:01/km
  • From 30k to finish: 03:04/km

Now there’s consistency for ya!

15 Siblings

Ruth O’Donoghue (or is it still Scully?), a cousin of Catherine persuaded her husband and his fourteen brothers and sisters to run this years Dublin Marathon together in order to get themselves into Guinness Book of Records and raise money for Down Syndrome Ireland. It’s brilliant to see that they all finished successfully. Well done! 🙂

(If you want to see how they got on, go to the results page and search using “1574-1591” in the race number field)

Dublin Marathon 2007

Well, I finished it. Not in the 4 hours I hoped for, but rather 04:24:18. I’m delighted I finished at all, though.

The split times tell the story (the figure in brackets is the segment pace):

  • 10km – 00:58:20 (05:50/km)
  • Half way – 02:00:23 (05:35/km)
  • 30km – 02:55:55 (06:14/km)
  • Finish – 04:24:18 (07:14/km)

Basically, the first 10km was nice and relaxed as I allowed myself get into it (even had a loo stop :-), I picked it up a bit in the next section and was on track for a 4 hour finish, then flagged somewhat after passing half way but at around 30km it all quickly fell apart …

You read about “hitting the wall” and think you understand it, but somewhere not long after 18 miles I slowed to a walk and I was convinced I was done … it didn’t make any sense to me that I could possibly get going again for another 8 miles. I managed to keep myself going, ran a bit, walked a bit, ran a bit, walked a bit and by about 21 miles it stared to dawn on my that I was going to be able to keep that up until the finish.

Coming around College Green, along Nassau St. and onto Merrion Square was some experience … such a huge support from the crowd. In fact, the whole thing was a brilliant experience – so many people involved in organising it, so much support along the way (love the people handing out the jaffa cakes and fun size chocolate bars :-)) and such a feeling of all the runners being in it together …


Happy Finisher

Strangely enough, it’s my hips that were totally done in by the end. Last year I would have been worried about my knees, at the start I was worried about my shins, and so it’s a bit strange when a body part you hadn’t been worried about starts letting you down. Thankfully I had a lovely wife to pick me up at the end, get me into the car and home, cook me dinner and limit the number of trips I had to do up and down the stairs 🙂

(Update: turns out my pace calculations were wrong … the geek that I am, I hacked up some python code to do it right)

Marathon Training

Last night I set off to do a 32k run, the longest I’d yet attempted. I ended up packing it in at 29k and getting a lift home, but I don’t feel to bad about it.

At around 10k  I was moving along nicely but thinking to myself “don’t get cocky, you’ve still another two hours or so to go” when suddenly … SMACK … I was laid out flat, face down on tarmac. Ouch. Not really sure what happened, but I think I stood on a ring of metal which popped up and snagged the other foot. As soon as I felt the pain in my left knee and right calf I was sure I was going straight home, but a few seconds later I was back running.

So, I musn’t be quite the softie I thought – I can be happy about that, at least. And the big lump on my knee looks cool too 🙂

I just registered for the marathon. It never occurred to me that it’d cost so much. €88 … wow!

3.5 weeks left.

Dublin Half-Marathon

So, today was the adidas half-marathon in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

I’m pretty happy how it went. I treated this as a trial run for the full marathon in 5 weeks and, as such, didn’t care so much about my time. I just wanted to get a feel for running in a crowd, race preparation, registration, baggage drops, water stations etc.

I set off determined to work my way into it with a slow, steady pace and that I did, but after 11 miles I got chatting to a couple up from Waterford for that day and found out from them that I was actually going at quite a decent pace. So I put the foot down a bit and finished very strongly at around 1hr 55mins. Quite surprised at that really, I would have guessed that I was running around 2hr 10mins pace. Looking forward to seeing the official time.

I’m especially happy about how my preparation paid off today. I got plenty of carbs in over the last few days, had a good breakfast early this morning, made sure I was well hydrated before the start, drank plenty as I ran, had some energy gel along the way and made sure to get food and water into me as soon as I finished. No crash like after the run last week and I was even happy wandering the 5k to the other side of the park to get the Luas and DART home.

Roll on the October 29th.

Marathon Training

Last night I ran my longest route so far in preparation for Dublin Marathon in 6 weeks time. It was a 26k route mainly along the seafront in north Dublin, based on a 20k route I’ve done quite a few times but with a 6k loop tacked on early on.

I felt fairly fine, and didn’t struggle too much, but I completely crashed when I got home. For some reason I hit the shower as soon as I got in the door and then collapsed on the bed and fell asleep for 45 minutes. When I woke up, I was totally dehydrated and had no energy at all. I scared myself a bit the way I floundered about the kitchen trying to make myself something to eat and get some fluids into me. Even though I’d prepared for the run by getting a lot of carbs in, and I drank a decent enough bit of water along the way, I obviously wasn’t prepared enough.

Now I have to learn from that and figure out how to prepare better. Should I be eating heaps more before a long run? Should I be taking those energy gel sachets? Should I be drinking more? Should I be drinking a sports drink rather than just water? Should I have food ready to eat when I finish?

It’s strange to be putting so much thought into this side of it and not feel to worried about my actual running … but I guess it’s all par for the course. I’m definitely starting to feel nervous about doing the marathon now, though.

I’ve just signed up for the half-marathon next weekend in the Phoenix Park. Looking forward to it. Should be good preparation.