2. Everglades Ultras 50-mi (Feb. 21): 7:43 (6th or 7th overall . . . I don't remember which one)
3. Daytona 100-mi (Feb. 28- Mar. 1): 21:25 (maiden "voyage" of course)
4. Cross Florida Route 40 "Romp" 116-mi (Mar. 7-8): 22:56 (1st Overall and new course record)
5. Palm 32k (Mar. 15): 2:43 (2nd OA)
6. Badwater Cape Fear 51.4-mi (Mar. 21): 8:26 (14th OA)
7. Ft. Clinch 50-mi (Mar. 28): 8:27
After running 7 races in 7 weekends, totaling 495 miles, I've repeatedly been asked two main questions:
(1) "Seriously, dude, you need some help. You know that, right?"
(2) "All kidding aside, how did you recover in time to not just complete, but race week in and out for so long?"
Regarding the first question, I was only a psychology major for about my first two years in college before I made the (cough) incredibly-intelligent decision to be a political science major and go to law school. (Actually, I loved law school, but that's a subject for another article). My point here is that I am in no way qualified to diagnose myself. My "overload" plan of 7 races in 7 weeks was deliberate and had a purpose, and I've written about that before (click here for that article).
This article is about that second question: my tips to help recover from ultras as quickly as possible, especially if you would like to run another one in short order. So here we go...
2. the day-after recovery "run."
I make all of my Team Zwitty runners get up and move a few miles the day after a race. They all hate me for it before they do their "run"; they all thank me for it later. I have been racing marathons and ultras for 15 years now. Active recovery simply works better than passive recovery (i.e., sitting on the couch). It doesn't matter how fast you move for those few miles the day after the race. Walking is completely fine. Just get up and move a little bit; it will kick-start the recovery process so your body can begin to heal the damaged muscles, flush out all the built-up lactic acid and fluid your body accumulated during the race, and get you on the path to feeling normal again.
Ask any of our runners: active recovery works.
2. indulge for 24-48 hours, then clean it up...
Now that you're done, though, and even though you might have another race coming up, if you do not allow yourself to "cheat" a bit regarding your food/beverage choices for about 24-48 hours after your race, you never will. It's okay to let go of the reins a little bit after the race. Order that steak. Have dessert. Whatever it is you like. You've earned it :)
3. if it is a main prop on "the bachelor pad," it probably won't help your recovery.
On a related note, if you ever find yourself at one of the "party pools" in Vegas (or anywhere else) that seem to be all the rage these days, do yourself a favor and don't actually get in the pool. There are hundreds of people standing in the pools and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, yet you never see any of them get up to go to the bathroom. Hmmm. So where do you think all that liquid is going . . . ?
4. "Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?"
Look, I get it. I certainly fall into that category as well. But if you want to be in this sport with any degree of longevity -- and if you don't want your significant other to kill you -- I highly suggest obtaining a degree of balance in your daily life. When runners sign up with me, I tell all of them something along the lines of "I completely understand how you will have all sorts of questions and want to discuss all sorts of points, which is great. We all think about this sport a lot, and given the amount of time it takes to train to do well, that is only natural."
But while I encourage my runners to reach out to me as much as they possibly want, I think we all need to step away and think about/focus on other things in life. With my last 7 weeks, that was pretty easy for me, as I have a soon-to-be 3-year-old (Zoey) and a 16 month-old (Witt) who could give a shit about running. They just want to play with and be hugged by Mommy and Daddy. (The extent of Zoey's interest in my running right now is saying "Daddy went running. Daddy's sweaty. Daddy needs to take a shower!") :)
If you want to be able to be an endurance runner for the long-term, listen to Mr. Miyagi. Balance is key :) Even while I was racing every weekend, once the race was over, I spent virtually no time thinking about the next race until I was actually standing at the start line the next weekend with a bib number on my shirt...
5. your body is talking to you. listen.
I have written about this potential pitfall of ultrarunning before, and I see it all the time in Zwitty runners. We have to beware of what I call the "Weekly Mileage Monster." People -- including me -- can get so wrapped up in the total weekly training mileage that we forget to listen to our bodies during our training, in lieu of racking up "junk miles" with little to no purpose behind them. ("Junk miles" are miles that are too slow to help increase our fitness/aerobic capacity, yet too fast to allow us to recover properly for the next "hard" workout. And this gray zone is where all too many ultrarunners run throughout their training.)
With that in mind, recovery must be paramount, and the Weekly Mileage Monster must be kept at bay.
6. we are all capable of so much more than we think, but it sure helps to keep perspective and be "real."
At the same time, though, there are "big" goals that are possible (even if a bit far-fetched), and then there are "big" goals that are just pure fantasy. I have been in the sport of distance running for a long time. I have averaged over 80 miles a week of training consistently for about 15 years now. So I like to believe that I know my body. Yes, my 7-week schedule scared me, but I also thought I had a good chance of getting through it.
My goal, however, was not, "I'm going to run 7 consecutive 100-milers in under 12 hours each." No matter how much I could possibly "believe" in my ability, that shit just ain't happening. . .
So I guess what I'm saying is to dream big, but keep in mind that you are still an inhabitant of planet Earth.
7. have an alex in your corner.
For Alex and I, running has always been a connector between us, and is actually how we met (at a marathon training group back in 2008). I cannot see a way to have "running" and "family" separate in my life. There is a reason I named my coaching program "Zwitty" (Zoey + Witt). No matter what your situation, hopefully you have a support system like I do. It really makes all the difference for me!!
Speaking of the Keys, the first annual Team Zwitty "Keys Camp" will be held next weekend down in the Keys (April 10-12), and will feature two days (Sat and Sun) of on-course (and fully supported) training runs, along with a night of hanging out/fun in Key West with a great group of runners (some very experienced and some just starting out in the sport). We have a few spots open to people who are not officially in the Zwitty Coaching Program, but only a few. The price of the camp includes two nights of very nice accommodations down in the Keys. (I'm not making any money off of anyone with this camp; I just want to open up my annual April on-course training weekend to Zwitty runners and friends). For more info, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope everyone has a great weekend, and see you "out there"!!