So less than a year ago I decided to sign up for my second half-marathon. The first time I did one was in 2010 and it was the “Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans” one. I really loved the course and it was a great experience, so I decided to do it again this year. Although, I decided to do my training differently than normal. Instead of running 3 days a week, with 2 shorter runs and 1 long run (which is how I trained for my first one) I decided to rely on my CrossFit training, which is 5 days a week, with one endurance session on the weekends Most days my endurance session was a run that ranged from 3-4 miles, occasionally I got a 6 mile run in (honestly, I think I did two 6 mile runs during all of my training.) ONE day I I had decided to do a 20 mile bike ride just for fun, with a CrossFit workout before AND after. I love changing things up and keeping my body guessing. That’s one of the reasons I love CrossFit, their specialty is NOT specializing. Studies demonstrate that the adaptations caused by anaerobic training (short, high intensity training) are similar to high volume endurance training, however, this adaptation comes at much lower training volumes (so you can get the same results with less time.)
So onto the race… At about 5:45am I headed into the city so I could beat the traffic. The race started at 7am, but I wanted to get a good parking spot. I parked about 1 mile from the start so I could get my warm-up in (i regretted this later, and I’ll get to that.) I got to my corral #18, but stepped to the side to stretch out a little and keep moving to stay warm. I was surprised at how many people weren’t stretching at all. Maybe most people don’t like to? I always find that it helps me a lot and I like to think it helps me avoid injury. So once the race started, everything was going great. I had some great music in my headphones and the weather was perfect. I maintained a perfect pace of 10min/mile until about mile 4. My left knee started bothering me. I ignored it and kept running but the pain would get to the point where I would have to walk a little. So I continued this until the end of the race, jogging for a while, then walking a little. The pain never subsided and I kept thinking “push through it, pain is temporary” while hoping that I wouldn’t regret that later. Luckily I ran into a really cool chick around mile 9 that saw my CrossFit shirt, and we encouraged each other all the way to the finish, it was awesome! That’s another thing I love about CrossFit, the community of people. I could write a separate blog JUST about that. So anyway, I finished the race in 2:56, which was my goal of finishing in under 3 hours. I definitely could have done better if I had been running a little more often with a few long runs, but I felt really good about it.
The BEST part is how my recovery went. Keep in mind, I could hardly walk after the race (i was hobbling all day, and my knees didn’t feel great.) I was concerned about my knees because my first half-marathon caused some tendonitis issues (i blame this on not stretching enough.) Well, the following day, I felt 85% better. I expected that getting out of bed would be difficult and that my feet/ankles would hurt a lot. Nope! Don’t get me wrong, I could tell that I had a long run the day before. My knees didn’t hurt anymore at ALL just a little muscle soreness. I had that general muscle tightness feeling that reminds you that you worked out the day before, but I really didn’t have any problems. My knees went from HURTING the day before, to barely sore the next day. I’m very aware of my body too, and I really had no concerns of injury once I started moving around the next day. These are some of the things I did that I think really helped my recovery:
1) I knew that I burned a lot of calories and needed to consume a good bit of calories to help recovery. I didn’t drink alcohol right after the race, I grabbed all the post-race food and went to town. A bagel, 2 power bars, powerade, and chocolate milk. Then for lunch, I ate a BIG healthy meal with lots of veggies and protein. Then I had a big dinner too, and I won’t lie, I had pizza and beer for dinner. I didn’t feel bad or guilty at all about it either
2) When I got home, I took a 15 minute ice bath. Then I took a warm shower to help blood circulation, and soaked for about 5 minutes in warm water with bath salts. I didn’t do real hot water in case of inflammation, I didn’t want to irritate it.
3) Fish Oil & Joint health supplements (glucosamine with MSM, and hair, skin, nail vitamins including MSM and Silica.)
4) Rest. I basically layed on the couch with my legs elevated the rest of the day.
5) A good night’s sleep the night following the race
6) Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water
7) “Runner’s Knee” braces & Compression pants? I wore these during the race, and I like to think they helped.
8) proper nutrition & hydration before the race. I drank lots of water and ate all paleo foods leading up to the race with the exception of my dinner the night before. I allowed some rice & bread to get in some extra carbs.
So overall, I felt really good about doing the half marathon with very minimal running leading up to the race. I highly recommend CrossFit for any athlete, even if it’s just for cross-training 1-2 days per week.