Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rebuilding Your Body Post-Marathon and Post-Injury

Wilson Kipsang set a world record in the marathon of 2:03:23 in Berlin on September 29, 2013.  Here is your opportunity to learn from the fastest marathoner the world has ever seen!  His philosophy to rebuilding after the marathon applies to both running training and recovery from injury:

"After every marathon, Wilson spends about 2 months going in the gym of Lornah Kiplagat, for rebuilding the level of strength lost during the specific training for long distances, and maintaining high level of flexibility and reactivity.  This is something other athletes don’t do, preferring to rest waiting [until] their body can again be able to work at its best.  Specifically, we can see the difference of mentality between Wilson and other top runners in the behavior after some injury: the most part await [most of them believe that] the time can solve the problem, totally resting and looking for some business, while Wilson has in his mind the priority to attack the injury, giving [it] great importance."

- Renato Canova, coach of many elite runners around the world

When you train for a marathon, you lose muscular strength in the final training period if most of the marathon-pace long runs are performed over flat terrain.  Of course, fast long runs on the flat are exactly what you need to achieve a peak performance in a flat marathon.  Specificity rules!  But, after finishing the marathon (hopefully with a PR!), you are not only extremely fatigued, but also at your lowest level of muscular strength.  The flat long runs and the marathon itself have brought you to this state.  What can you do to make sure that your next race is successful?  Rebuild your strength while slowly increasing the volume of easy running in your routine.  Participating in some cross-training activities (cycling, swimming, rowing, etc.) in replacement of easy running in the first week or two back can be helpful as well.  DO NOT perform fast long runs, intense tempo runs, or any other strenuous running workout that will push you further into the hole.  Your #1 priority needs to be rebuilding your running-specific strength (see Hill Workouts #1 and #2)!

Canova's last line is one of his best.  Remember, resting a running-related injury can only do so much.  We must "attack the injury" through focused interventions to achieve functional, pain-free running.  At FLASH Sports Physical Therapy, we take this approach very seriously.  Even if our patients are taking a brief rest from running, they are performing tolerated cross-training activities and running-specific therapeutic exercises and activities in the interim.  This method enables them to return-to-running even better than before!  Stronger, more stable, and more knowledgeable regarding preventing injury recurrence = consistent, smart training = FASTER TIMES!