The Road to Recovery

I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve recovered from my 50K.  Today is 10 days since Bear Mountain, and running to work today I felt 100 percent back to normal.  It seems the only lingering effects will be the loss of my two big toe-nails, which, as I suspected, have begun to turn black.  Ah, the joys of running!

5/5 DAY 0: Exhausted, but happy.  The first thing I did after crossing the finish line (well, the first thing after staggering around in an incoherent buzz of adrenaline) was take off my shoes.  Might be the best feeling ever.  Walking up and down stairs wasn’t easy.

5/6 DAY 1: The day after an endurance race is when your legs feel it.  Day one they’re sort of in shock; the next day is when they get over their disbelief and just get pissed.  We’d bought tickets to “Day out With Thomas” for our son, so the day after running for over seven hours we piled in a car and drove 2 and a half hours into Connecticut to see a Really Useful Engine.  Any change of elevation hurt like hell — going up and down curbs hurt, stairs were just plain evil.  I had to lean on the hand-rail going up, and went down stairs backwards (an old runner’s recovery trick).  Every few steps my muscles would threaten to give out, and I’d give a bizarre stagger like I’d just had a mini-seizure.

5/7 DAY 2:  Pretty much the same.  This was actually better than I’d feared — walking on level ground was perfectly fine, it was just stairs that caused problems.  My muscles were still tight and I felt like stretching my legs constantly, but they weren’t in pain, or even that sore, just wanting to stretch.  Still used the hand-rail.  The part of me that was actually the most sore was my right big toe.  I couldn’t actually bend it, and if it had hurt a little more I would have worried it was broken.  It hadn’t started to change color, but I was pretty sure I was going to loose my nail.

5/8 DAY 3: Back to work.  Having a job where I stand 90% of the time was probably good for my recovery, though I did drive to work, and stubbornly refused to take the elevator, so I hobbled up and down the stairs.  Going up wasn’t that bad, and I only needed to use the hand-rail going down.  Still taking the stairs backwards.

5/9 DAY 4: Drove to work again, and didn’t have to walk down stairs backwards.  Did have to take steps one at a time and lean on the hand-rail, however.  Just for the hell of it, tried to jog down the hall to see how I felt and almost collapsed on the floor at the first step.

5/10 DAY 5:  Not up to running, but I walked to and from work, 2.75 miles each way.  Felt great, and didn’t need the handrail on stairs.  Getting over-confident and trying to take more than one step at a time did almost result in my going head-first down a dozen steps, so I wasn’t quite as recovered as I thought.  Tried jogging in the hall again, and could manage a geriatric shuffle.

5/11 DAY 6: Decided to give running a shot.  Wore my Instincts for a bit more support than usual.  Everything felt fine except my quads, which were definitely still sore, and got tired really fast.  Ended up walking about half the distance, and running the other half — three blocks running, walk, run three more blocks.  Stairs and I finally came to a reluctant truce.

5/12 DAY 7:  Emboldened by the day before, I ran to a Saturday planning session at work, then 4 miles to the park for about seven miles total, again in my Instincts.  Quads a bit sore, but I ran the entire time without having to stop, and felt good.  When Nat wanted me to repeatedly run up a hill in the park with him, however, my legs were like “Hell, no.  We just did hills last weekend.”

5/13 DAY 8: No running, felt fully recovered as far as normal life was concerned.

5/14 DAY 9: Ran to work, just time in my Inov8-155’s for a bit less support.  Felt great — still not fast, but definitely running, not jogging.

5/15 DAY 10: Broke out the unshoe huaraches, and today felt completely recovered.  Ran fast and light, without any soreness at all.  Itching for a longer run again, but should probably not push things too much — I know that when recovering is when the most injuries happen.  Wore my sandals while teaching, and freaked my students out with my now black toe-nails.  “Nah, its fine.  Its just going to fall off in a few weeks.  No, its just because I ran 31 miles last weekend.”  Saying it out-loud makes it sound a LOT weirder, doesn’t it?

I’ve got a few more posts I can squeeze out of my 50K.  In the mean time, its back to commuting to work on foot.  And, of course, conspiring to figure out when I can find the time to run some stupid-long race again . . .

About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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