After the race comes the recovery. Grandma’s Marathon was a fantastic experience, even with the black caution flags, but to fully appreciate that journey, it’s important to take time to recover — to tell the story of the race, to rest, to play. Before moving on to what’s next, there’s an opportunity for real recovery. Here are the five things I am loving about this round of recovery:
- Swimming. For people who know me, this may come as a shock because in triathlon the swim is where I struggle. I’m the girl who takes five minutes to start swimming at the beginning of the race. I’m the girl who rests on kayaks when panic sets in. I’m the girl who is the last swimmer out of the water. I’ve been told over and over again that I’ll never be a good swimmer. And I’ve learned to say “whatever.” I’ve learned I can love and enjoy swimming with my slow pace and bad form. When I slipped into the pool at the YMCA a few days after the marathon, I had a moment of doubt. “Do I remember how to swim?” It had been six months since I had been in the pool. But as I pushed off from the wall and glided slowly down the lane, it came back to me. My body felt incredible in the water. It thanked me for the workout without the pounding of the pavement. It felt natural and I never thought I would get to that place.
- Hiking. Yes, hiking has been part of my being every week since December (see: #Hike52) but away from a training schedule I have the opportunity to do some more exploring. A random Wednesday off lead me to Niagara Falls to explore the Gorge Trails. I had never attempted the American Falls trail and it was a nice, short challenge. Sometimes I upped my pace, just because I wanted to move along and get my heart rate going. Other times I slowed down, took a picture, breathed into the moment. Time in nature helps center me and as I celebrate and recover from my latest marathon adventure, that is a component I desperately need in large amounts.
- Off the clock. I hopped on my bike and took off down my street. I had no destination in mind. I just meandered. There was no GPS watch on my wrist. I didn’t track pace or distance or time or cadence. I stayed pretty much in a middle gear, content to just ride. Just ride my bike. All of my training goes back to one simple goal: To be in a position to embrace life and do the things I love to do. Not everything is a training ride. Not everything is maximum effort. But I strive for maximum joy. Some days that’s pushing tempo pace. Some days that’s riding bikes like I’m 13 years old again.
- New routines. Recovery time has provided me an opportunity to set some new patters and the priority ones for me have been daily yoga and meditation. I keep it pretty simple. I use the app Down Dog — 20 minutes of beginner flow. Then I use Insight Timer for 20 minutes of meditation, sometimes guided, usually mantra-based. Here’s what I know is true for me: Yoga helps increase my flexibility and my mobility, two things runners often lose. It helps me with concentration. It helps me take myself less seriously, especially when I’m falling out of Dancer Pose, which happens from time to time. It sets me up for the day. Meditation, meanwhile, helps me quiet my mind. Because I need to quiet my mind. It likes to race and wander off and a meditation practice helps me learn to come back to my centering thought for the day, whether its a sanskrit mantra or a line of reflection from a Mt. Ireneaus podcast. I’ve experienced the benefits of yoga and meditation, but haven’t been consistent in my practice. Recovery, as I see it, is a great time for me to create some new habits, all those things I’ve been wanted to do. (Well at least some of them. There are a lot of things I want to do.)
- Enjoy eating. When my parents picked me up at the airport, I had them drive directly to Lake Effect Ice Cream Shop. My first order of business upon returning from the marathon was to have a double scoop of ice cream at my favorite stop. I went out to eat with my boyfriend. I enjoyed a glass of wine on my front porch. Granted, I didn’t gorge myself on junk food, but again, recovery gave me an opportunity to look at my relationship with food. Yes, I want to fuel my body with awesome, healthy things so I can be at my best, whether I’m training, racing or writing a story on deadline. But I also want to enjoy myself. And a world without ice cream just makes me sad. Then I saw this post from Women’s Health UK: “Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.” Yes! Because the biggest part of recovery is gratitude.