Monday, November 05, 2007

Ask the Mystery Coach

Mystery Coach,

Long time reader / first time writer. I was wondering what you typically prescribe to your runners for marathon recovery. Being an avid reader of Mike's Blog, I understand that Mike ... may be on the faster side for recovery. Since my marathon, I've been trying to listen to my body, but I'm afraid I may have felt better than I actually was, because 3 weeks after the race my body feels very run down. I've decided to take a week off completely from running. So what do you prescribe for your average marathon runner for the 3-4+ weeks following a marathon?

Thanks in advance,

Bob, Recovery is perhaps the real "secret" to the Lydiard program. First in the case of marathons most runners underestimate how deep the fatigue goes after racing a hard marathon. This combined with the fear that all the hard training benefits will disappear if they take a day off causes symptoms like you are describing. Mike had a similar experienced after his marathon in December of last year (you might want to go back and read his posts during the 4 weeks after the race). For marathon recovery first take 5 or more days off with some light exercise like walking until any muscle pain is gone, then for 2-3 weeks after that shorter easy runs (with days off as you feel you need them). After this initial recovery stage you can add a longer run back in and maybe some half effort speed works. It is important during this stage to evaluate how you are reacting to the long runs and speed workouts. They should not be forced (there is deep down recovery still going on). It might take 3-4 weeks of this to get to the point where you are ready for hard training again.

One point that is often missed when discussing Arthur's training plan is that his conditioning period of marathon training is to help runners recover from the hard speed work and racing. This 2-3 month period is very important for allowing the overall stress response system to recover. The miles condition you while allowing the "fight or flight" system to recharge so that during the next build for racing it can respond strongly instead of being fatigued.

Hi Mystery Coach,

I was wondering what role diet plays in your marathon training programs. In particular, how vital a role do fats play in the availability of fuel.

Thanks in advance,


Blair, One advantage I have is I'm married to a Registered Dietitian and have seen first hand what works and does not work. When you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Eating within a half hour of finishing a hard run or volume speed workout gives a very big boost with recovery. Something like chocolate milk with a 4 grams to 1 gram ratio of carbohydrates to protein is a very good recovery drink then a light meal shortly after that.

When it comes to long runs not eating a high carbohydrate meal before seems to eliminate energy level swings during the run. These energy level swings are confused with bonking and not eating before the run helps eliminate them.

Most runners eat far more fat than they need (typically 75 grams or so) but it is very difficult to get to a low fat diet (20% fat) and feel satiated. When some of our runners tried to go too low on the fat they ended eating more Calories and gaining weight because they felt hungry all the time.

Your best bet is eating balanced meals that you enjoy and concentrating on refueling after hard workouts.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hey being a fellow Lydiardist, I thought you may be interested in my Nobby Hashizume interview.

It's up at Flotrack:

Brand new interview.