Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

I whipped this up after my long run on Sunday and it hit the spot perfectly on a chilly January day. I tend to get very cold very quickly after a long run, and it isn’t uncommon for me to turn blue if I don’t have a shower immediately, but this served as an all-in-one recovery drink and a warm blanket, meaning that I didn’t have to wait for nourishment until after I’d showered.


I made it with whole dairy milk because we had some on a short date in the fridge, but it could quite easily be made with scrummy non-dairy milk, too. Equally as easy, and n doubt just as tasty, for vegans and milk-lovers alike!

Protein recovery hot chocolate

1 scoop protein powder (we use pea protein which is GROSS on its own, hence the need to dress it up)
1 mug milk
1 tbsp hot chocolate powder (I use Green and Blacks, which is vegan, but any will do)
Half a banana (optional)

  1. Heat up the milk in a mug in the microwave for 2 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, blend the protein powder, chocolate powder and banana with 100ml of water
  3. Add the warm milk to the blender and whizz to combine
  4. Pour back into the mug and pop in the microwave for another minute until hot



Read Full Post »


We all do it: dream up all the things we’re going to do once the big race is over (in my case, go to the pub, do loads of walking, get out on the bikes, have lots and lots of rest), but once we’ve crossed that finish line all we want to do is get running again as soon as possible. So I knew what to expect, as it happens to me every time. What I didn’t expect was the grief-like emotions that disrupted every part of my day, so much so that I was a ghost for about a week, constantly running those trails in my head. For about five nights following the UT55 I ran in my dreams, waking up intermittently as I tripped over rocks to find my legs cramping or spasming as I lay there confused.

I had a sports massage two days after the race, which was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever endured, and certainly the most pain I’ve paid money to put myself through (and yes, I acknowledge that I also paid for the UT55: this statement still stands). Despite the agony, it worked wonders, but as she kneaded and pummeled the race out of my muscles I felt as if I were leaving it all behind, and grief began to set in as soon as we left Ambleside shortly afterwards. This was a new sort of post-race downer, and was potentially much more damaging than the general Eeyore-like state that I’m used to. I started putting myself down for running so badly, for taking so long, for not being prepared enough: I convinced myself that I was a terrible runner and that I’d achieved nothing. This was bad enough in itself, but it then led to the planning of the next challenge – I needed another opportunity to achieve something in order to make up for my failure at the UT55. So there it was; all of my effort both before and during the UT55 was worthless, my crossing the finish line was worthless (despite being so terrified that I wouldn’t make it at all at only 12 miles into the run); it meant nothing and I had to do something else, and better, if I wanted to be worth anything at all.

I’ve since identified these destructive thought patterns as perfectionism. The idea that, no matter what is achieved, it is never enough, and so the perfectionist carries on pursuing and pursuing and pursuing. More and more and more challenging goals are attempted in pursuit of, eventually, some sense of accomplishment. And I guess that accomplishment never comes. I never thought I could be a perfectionist; my life is too messy, too slap-dash, too…goal-driven and structured with strict discipline? Oh yes, perhaps I could be a perfectionist. Perhaps its a common trait of adventure-seekers, always looking for the next goal, the bigger distances, the higher climbs. And what a shame to waste all that effort and glory by simply by-passing it and planning to achieve something bigger and better next time.

It wasn’t until I found the words to tell the tale of my UT55 experience that I was really able to appreciate what I’d achieved. I was towards the back of the pack, as usual, but I was the 23rd senior lady: I was one of a very small number of young women to finish the race (only 36 of the 122 female finishers were seniors), and I’d learned and experienced more in that day than I ever have before. Reading comments from other runners, many of whom I’d run with at some point on the day, really hammered it home, and many of them left me feeling a bit tearful. But finally, these were happy tears, and finally I felt really really proud of the whole thing. And I still feel proud, three weeks later. I’m no longer desperately trying to find ways to ‘make up for’ my first attempt at ultra running, and realising that my thought processes were driven by perfectionism was helpful in forcing me to mediate those naughty negative ideas that killed the initial glory that I should have experienced when I was still in Ambleside and still hobbling around. That should have been proud hobbling!


So what have I been up to? Well, not running, mostly. I’ve only just started going out again for anything more than a 2-mile potter, as it took me two weeks to run half a mile without having to stop for a rest. I’ve been teaching myself how to listen more carefully, and how to be gentle; I hope I can move forwards with this new approach and avoid the illnesses that hit me as a result of over-training prior to the ultra (tip: if running suddenly becomes hard, take 3 days off; if it’s still hard, take another 3 days off – one week off does nobody any harm). Daniel and I have been going swimming once a week, which has been wonderful even though I absolutely hate swimming. We’ve also been enjoying lots and lots of walking, and spent a weekend gaining our bronze navigation skills award in the Yorkshire Dales.


We have also spent plenty of time in the pub, had some proper weekend lie-ins, and brunched and lunched our way through York. Life has a lot to offer, and training for a big race can distort that. I worry that, on the whole, we runners are too hard on ourselves, planning one big race after another after another after another. Always chasing times and goals as if they’re important. They’re not. We celebrate pushing through and often ignore the importance of stopping, pulling out where needed, acknowledging that we’ve done enough. For the average Joe, running marathon or ultra distances doesn’t benefit our health and fitness in any way (I would even say that it might have a pretty negative impact – opposing views welcome!), and when we start to obsess over needing to achieve something new as soon as we cross one finish line, well, maybe it’s time to reassess those thought processes.

This has been a really steep learning curve for me, for many reasons, not just the ones I discuss here. I can’t say that I’m not keen to do another marathon this year, but perhaps the challenge would actually be to not do another marathon. We’ll see. For now, the lie-ins and the pancake brunches are proving way too good to forego.

Read Full Post »

Wahooo! This morning I got up to 13 miles again! It feels like forever since I ran that far, and I could feel it! I was tired out from 10 miles, despite a very careful pace and nice flat route.

The sun wasn’t shining, but it was very muggy and by the time I got home I was desperate for a drink and sweating like mad. I’m still in the process of trying out different types of specific recovery drink, but I think I have a new favourite, which was really put to the test today!

During marathon training I used a full-on recovery powder, which combined carbs, protein and lots of other nice nutrients in a strawberry-flavoured shake. I always looked forward to it as I appoached the end of a run, as it really does help with the horrible drained sensation that inevitably follows a long running session. However, the mix that I used contains artificial sweeteners, and really is too sweet, while it also boasts areally high calorie content. Now, I’m not usually fussed about calorie counting, especially not when I’ve burned 2000+ calories in a training session, but personally I find that the recovery shake doesn’t stop the insatiable hunger that always hits me: by the end of the day I’ve probably consumed way more than I really should! It’s great for 15+ miles of running, or a few hours on my bike, but is maybe a bit too full-on for anything less than that!

So I did my research and chatted to some of my running friends, and decided to try High5 Zero tablets. I buy the neutral flavour and add it to a sugary squash drink, which helps top up my sugar levels after a run. These tablets contain a simple mix of electrolytes and minerals to replenish tired bodies after a run – no sweetener, nothing dodgy! It’s incredibly refreshing and easy on the tummy, and leaves plenty of space to eat everything in sight, too!

Since the weather has been so hot and muggy lately, I’ve been using these every day, even after short runs. I haven’t taken them around on a run/cycle yet, but next time I take a water bottle I’m going to try that out, too. I definitely recommend these as a lighter alternative to recovery shakes, though after a 50-mile ride on my bike there’s nothing I love more than a frothy strawberry shake with water and coconut milk!!

Read Full Post »

It’s three weeks ago today that I completed my first marathon. I’m still suffering a mild state of the blues, even though the race and all the training I put in feels like a world away from here.

These three weeks have been quite odd; recovering, winding down and then winding back up again has happened much faster than I feared it might, and now I’m eager to sign up for another race and get back training again as soon as I can! The recovering and the winding down were hard: I went for my first run on the Thursday after the race, which consisted of a very slow 2 mile jog/walk. From there I took up the distance a little at a time, and today I hit the 9 mile mark – the furthest I’ve run in three weeks! The distance is easy peasy lemon squeezy – I have no tiredness or energy issues relating to how far I run. It’s just how I run that’s had to change, and I think it might be a while before I find any real desire to push myself. Everything just feels harder. I can’t describe it any better than that! As if I’m constantly pulling a slab of concrete along behind me, as if my thighs are made of lead, as if I’m getting over injuries in both knees. I still click every time I walk up the staires! I’m aching more afterwards, too: last week I woke up with odd pains right down my right leg after a cross country run the morning before. It’s making me nervous!

On a much more positive note, the one really exciting thing that I’ve noticed is that, despite all of the above, my natural steady pace has become much quicker. What feels instinctively pretty slow to me registers at half marathon pace on my watch when I get home; it looks like, if I keep it up, I might be able to smash a few targets in the near future. Without having to push or even to think about how fast I’m going, I’m easily clocking a good 20-30 seconds/mile faster than I ever have. That is not something I expected!

So, three weeks on all is well on the running front. I know that I’m probably only just starting to really recover, and that I need to continue to pay my body some respect for all it’s done, and for all it continues to do! I’m aware that I’m probably doing a bit too much a bit too often, but I’m loving it, more than I ever have, and I can’t wait to find out what’s around the corner!

Read Full Post »

The only thing I could face eating for lunch on the day after my marathon was a hearty, salty soup. I didn’t want bread, peanut butter, salad, pasta…I looked through the cupboards and found some noodles, and suddenly I just had to have this wonderful bowl of rescue remedy!

Rescue Recovery Noodle Soup
Serves 1

1 bunch of noodles (I love egg noodles)
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 can chickpeas
1 cup of mixed frozen veggies: I use sweetcorn, green beans, peas and broad beans
1 tsp miso paste*
1 tbsp soy sauce
Handful of cashew nuts

1. Bring the stock to the boil and add the noodles, chick peas and frozen veg.

2. Meanwhile, heat a dry pan and roast the cashew nuts – keep an eye on them as they burn very quickly!

3. After about 5 minutes, stir in the miso paste.

4. Pour into a bowl and stir in the soy sauce and cashew nuts.

Quick, easy and delicious! Though this is pretty high in salt so watch the soy sauce if you’re not in desperate need of anything salty!

*I found this in my local health food grotto. If you can’t find it, you could use a miso soup sachet, or just your own preferred mixture of soy sauce and spices.


Read Full Post »

One of the things I love the most about short early morning runs is that I get to look forward to breakfast afterwards. If I’m doing a long run I’ll always have breakfast before, which means I need to tailor it to a running tummy (i.e. it needs to be plain, and light!), so a nice big post-run breakfast is always a lot more fun!

Forget cooked breakfasts, sugary cereals or even exciting European breads; when it comes to a post-run breakfast treat I like to keep it simple and healthy, with a nice big bowl of porridge! This isn’t any porridge, though; this is the no-holds-barred, just-the-way-I-love it porridge, which, sadly, my stomach doesn’t agree with before a run.

A big bowl of whole organic jumbo oats, cooked with water in the microwave for one minute to make them squishy. Then, I add milk, a chopped banana and a handful of mixed nuts and raisins, and cook for another few minutes until it’s a nice thick consistency.

Served with a generous drooling of honey, a large mug of tea and a magazine on hand – breakfast perfection!

I know it sounds simple, but after exercise it’s the simple things that I crave the most: poached eggs on wholemeal bagel, vegetable soup or a bowl of salty chips are some of my other favourites!

Do you have a favourite meal that you enjoy most after exercise? What is it?

Read Full Post »

Post-Race Blues

It’s Bank Holiday Monday at the time of writing and I am suffering serious post-race blues following an amazing day in Keswick yesterday. I get the blues following practically every race that I do, and following some research it seems that this is quite a normal phenomenon for those taking part in races of some sort (I typed ‘post marathon’ into Google and ‘post marathon depression’ was third on the list!).

For me, the blues come along when energy levels are low: after long training runs a slow day doing nothing is usually the last thing I want, and after the high of an amazing race, staying indoors with my laptop and a cup of tea is never a good way to follow that. No matter how much I try to remind myself that I need to replenish my body and let it rest, it is never enough consolation.

Along with being fed up, achey and eager to get back out there and run again, I also think about food almost constantly. I flit between craving fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and pulses, to needing sugar, fat and starch in obscene quantities. It’s not a good feeling, after putting so much positive physical work and energy into action, to feel that your body is being pumped with rubbish ‘because I’ve earned it’: I’m against the idea that unhealthy food is to be ‘earned’, and this sentiment grates on me most when my defences are down.

So, how to get through this tired, achey lump of misery? I wish I had the answers, or even a tried-and-tested method, but after three years of running in races I’m still at a loss when it comes to the following day. Here are some suggestions that I would make to myself, were I my usual, sensible self and not feeling so blue:

  • Plan the day after the race before you do the race: acknowledge that it might be a bit tough, and set the schedule accordingly!
  • Sleep in, snooze or just lie in: take a pint of water to bed and something to read, so that when you wake up in the morning you won’t be tempted to jump out of bed straight away (if you’re that sort of person, that is!). It’s also worth taking some food, such as a banana, some biscuits or a cereal bar, so that if you wake up early with bad hunger pangs you won’t have to get up for breakfast right away!
  • Have a great breakfast: now is the time for sugary cereal, toast and jam, fruit and yoghurt, a fry up, or all of the above. Enjoy a big breakfast as energy levels will be particularly low if you haven’t eaten for over 8 hours. Don’t worry if it seems a little greedy to munch through two bowls of cereal, toast and jam and then a bagel (as I did this morning!); if you’re hungry, you need the nourishment!
  • Move: make sure you do some light exercise, as this will ease muscle pains and boost endorphins. A short walk or some yoga are both easy on the body and a great way to get moving.
  • Sip and nibble: keep a large glass full of water by your side all day, and keep sipping! Similarly, make sure you keep nibbling whenever you are hungry, as low blood sugar depletes the mood instantly. Fruit, rice cakes, fig rolls, cereal bars and yoghurt are all great for a quick light snack as soon as hunger reappears.
  • Get stuff done: normally it’s easy enough to keep busy and motivated, but I find that the post-race blues sap away all creativity from my mind. This is a perfect time to respond to emails, sort out the desk drawer, deal with your finances, and do all the other things you’ve been putting off for weeks!!
  • Plan a healthy meal: following the great boost from the challenge of the day before, now is the best time to put healthy eating on the top of the agenda, and it will help lift your spirits too. Prepare a meal that’s packed with goodness, and add a good few portions of veggies on the side, too. Served with a glass of red wine and a tasty pudding, you’ll feel the benefit of both goodness and indulgence, which is the best combination for the blues! Tonight I’m having this delicious veggie shepherd’s pie with red cabbage, peas and cauliflower, followed by homemade jam roly poly and custard – I can’t wait!

Having implemented all of the above, I have managed to get a few positive things done today, and am looking forward to a good meal at tea time. I’m also eager to get back out in my running shoes tomorrow for a recovery run, and will enjoy it knowing that I am as replenished and refuelled as I can be thanks to a few positive steps today. Especially when training for a marathon, it is hard to get the balance of recovery and fueling up right – while I recover from yesterday, I’m also preparing for tomorrow. Here it is especially important to pay heed to yesterday’s efforts, and not put too much pressure on your mood or your body, especially after what it’s just got you through!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »