Recovering from back-to-back ultra runs

Ryan Correy July 24, 2015 No Comments
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By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk

Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

Brice Ferre Studio – Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

These past two weeks I spent both Saturdays running back to back 50km races. I didn’t do it intentionally, it just worked out that way. Back in November I registered for a brand new race in Rossland July 18th, the Broken Goat. I then put my name in for the Knee Knacker lottery the weekend before. The running gods were on my side the day of the lottery and I got into the Knee Knacker… which meant running two 50km trail races, back to back saturdays…hooray!

Two back to back 50kms meant I needed fast recovery time in between. Here’s how I trained…

My training consisted of back to back long runs, adding cycling and cross training after of before runs and watching my nutrition. I upped my overall protein intake to aid in faster recovery. As a vegetarian it can be hard to increase protein intake, it takes more effort to think and plan ahead. I started relying on Hammer Vegan protein as it is a fast and convenient source of protein. I started adding it into my smoothies or adding it to my cereal in the mornings. I also started using recoverite which is a 3:1 carb to protein powder with glutamine immediately after a workout or long run. Recoverite is meant for faster muscle recovery as glutamine allows protein to enter the muscle cells quicker and carbs replenish the immediate glycogen loss.

Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

Brice Ferre Studio – Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

I did cross training and cycling in between my runs. Cycling is a phenomenal compliment to running as it is a great cardio exercise and awesome for strengthening all while being low impact. Pairing cycling with running is a great way to get more cardio in without the constant pounding impact that running elicits on the body. Plus it’s really fun to go really fast down hills on a bike!! Cross training is an excellent way to do short bursts of high intensity training, reach your max or target heart rate, target specific muscles and tone your core and upper body. Having a strong core will make a substantial improvement in your running!

I have also allowed myself to rest. Training intensely plus working full time as an ER RN and running a company is tough work. When I felt tired, I listened to my body and took rest days as needed. The thing they don’t tell you is rest is the secret weapon of being prepared on race day. You’re not going to get very far if your exhausted. Training while you are tired or sore can increase your risk of injury. It’s really important to learn to tune into these messages your body is giving you.

Recovery

My first 50km, the knee knacker, I can say I definitely raced it. I went out there and I pushed myself as hard as I felt I could and snuck in under the 7 hour mark at 6:53. I was so proud of myself but I was completely knackered after the race. Immediately after the race I was pretty doubtful on my ability to recover in time, but my body recovered beautifully for the Broken Goat 50k a week later.

Here are my top recovery tips:

Massage: immediately after the race I took advantage of the post race massage. The RMT passively stretched me and worked through some immediate muscle soreness. Plus, being horizontal after a 50km is the greatest place to be. I could have been massaged all day!

Nutrition: I refilled my caloric deficit. You can only imagine how many calories 50km, 2500m of elevation gain and almost 7 hours or running you burn. Immediately after the race I had a recoverite shake to get calories, glycogen, carbs and protein in. I immediately consumed protein rich meals to recover my knackered muscles. For the week between races I ate high carbed meals, ate when I was hungry and snacked through out the day to maintain a proper
caloric intake.

Walked it out: The day after the race, as sore as I was, I laced up and went for an hour long walk with Dayna. This helped stretch things out and release some of the built up lactic acid. Moving also really helped prevent me from stiffening up, loosened things up and decreased my overall
soreness.

Rolling: As much as it hurt, I got out my foam roller and I rolled out my muscles. My calves, glutes and hips were the sorest part and convinently the most painful places to roll. Foam rolling is an
excellent way to control the healing and recovery process by applying pressure in precise locations, because only you can feel exactly what is happening. The foam roller can get deep into those muscles that are hard to release by just stretching. Rolling can be done while watching TV for an hour or so. Try and get into those areas that feel the tightest so help release them.

Cycling: 2 days post race I hopped on my bike to stretch out the legs, see how sore I was and get my muscles firing again and test how well I was recovering. I took it easy and didn’t push it too hard. My legs felt suprisingly good 2 days after the race.

Rest: I didn’t push myself too hard during the week between the two 50kms. I relaxed as much as I could and did only light exercise when I felt up to it. Running two 50km races back to back weekends is a lot to ask from your body so I relished in the rest and relaxation the
week between.

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When I toed the start line of the Broken Goat 50km I was not sure how things would go. The first 5km, my legs felt tired and my breathing wouldn’t settle. But after that, my body started cooperating and I ended up having another sucessful race with a time of 7:34 on a very challenging, full mountain course! I fuelled the entire race with Hammer Gels and Hammer Nutrition Bars and stayed on top of my electrolytes and hydration with endurolytes.

Would I race back to back 50kms again? Oh probably… I love a good challenge!

Ryan Correy

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