DIARY: Recovery Run

I haven't had time (busy week at work) to finish my review of the Donard - Commedagh race, since I'm planning a detailed scientific explanation of the race by comparing the running theory of Dr. Mike Stroud (author of "Survival of the Fittest") with the statistical data gathered by my ForeRunner 305 during the race.
Today, I'll look at something quick, and very present to my mind, phase 4, the "Maintenance" phase, as I picked up a slight "injury" on Saturday's race.
Donard - Commedagh
Since my race on Slieve Donard, riddled with the sniffles as I was, my right leg has not recovered as well as it should.
I was limping and unable to walk normally for the first 3 days, and gave up Floorball and Football this week as running was not possible. During day 2 after the race, I could not activate sufficient fast fibres to even sprint for the LUAS in the morning.
The leg does not seem to suffer any type of muscle strain (not even grade 1) or tear, but just incredible stiffness and pain when the muscles are pressed. To alleviate any inflammation and assist in the healing process, I have applied Arnica gel to my leg muscles during the week.
Arnica Montana is an extract from mountain plants, a herbal remedy, that has proved very effective in combatting stiffness, bruises, and muscle soreness. It's quite expensive, but I highly recommend it. In addition, I do "leg drains", a technique recommended by Danny Dreyer (the ChiRunning mogul), which is basically me lying for 4 minutes with my legs up against the wall, allowing the blood to flow out of the legs.
Apart from this, I started walking the stairs at work again on the 3rd day, and generally did a fair bit of long distance walking (shopping etc.), to make sure the legs did not get stiff from inactivity.
Recovery Run
Today I started walking normally again, and while the right leg is still extremely sore, this development has thrown me a lifeline in my quest to attend Saturday's first Spring League race at Glencree, South of Dublin.
I have never done much in recovery runs (as I have felt they were generally counterproductive and inferior to at least a week's total rest), but I decided to give it a try.
To do a recovery run, you need to keep your Heart Rate in "Zone 2". Zone 2 is between 60-70% of your maximum Heart Rate, and is generally accepted as being the best for recovery. With my ForeRunner I can measure Heart Rate very precisely, and I have recently measured my Max Heart Rate to be 194bpm (Beats Per Minute). I reached this result by finding my Resting Heart Rate (currently 48bpm) and entering that into an Excel sheet with an algorithm.
So before my run, I knew that I should, at all times stay between:
Min: 135.6bpm
Max: 150.2bpm
So I programmed my ForeRunner to warn me every time I went above or below these values. I also set a few other targets for the Recovery Run:
1. Minimal pain should be experienced
2. It should include a few minor climbs (to test muscles stressed by ascent)
3. It should be at least 3k
Loosening Up
I knew that an added bonus of the race would be to generate heat in my sore muscles, thus preparing them for a long session of intense stretching.
Unlike many runners, I have no belief in any positive gains from "cold stretching", that is stretching muscles before you have even started your activity. I believe that this tend to cause more risk of damaging the muscles. Instead, I use Danny Dreyer's "body looseners", which are basically exercises focusing on rotation of the ankles, hips, and knees. Danny's book was worth picking up for this alone.
Before anyone cares to object, you may want to remember a few simple scientific fact. Several evolutionary factors (such as our main evolution happening in Africa, and in areas where long distance travel was a greater asset than sprinting), mean that our muscles operate best at 38 degrees Celsius. Before exercise, your muscle temperature will be 37 degrees Celsius at best (less in cold weather). The best warmup is slow running. Save your stretches for afterwards.
Post-Run Conclusion
The Recovery Run was a resounding success. Not only did I manage to clock, very surprisingly, 5, mostly painless, kilometres, but I kept my average heart rate perfectly at 137bpm never moving above 152bpm. The small ascents did not cause any real pain, and even though I felt very slow and forced, I still clocked a decent pace of 5:49 per km (a speed of 10.3kph).
I felt good after the run, and after the stretches the leg feels much better. On the downside, I did notice general signs of fatigue (seemingly caused by tremendous buildup of lactic acid during Saturday's race, I'll look into the science behind this during the weekend).
Glencree is by no means a certainty, but at least now its a hope. Recovery Runs have come to stay for me in any case!

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