The Marine Corps Marathon is right around the corner. My training mileage has been covered, my taper week starts Monday, and all too soon, I'll be at the starting line itching to get going. And a few hours later, I'll be at the finish line (hopefully), dying for anything that will make my legs and body feel better! Fortunately, this year has been a big one for recovery education, and I have pulled together a great kit for keeping my muscles in top shape no matter what distance my feet have just run.
5. Stretching Straps
When you're cursed with a limited range of motion (raises hand), even basic stretching can be very difficult. Supplementing my reach and ability to hold a stretch for long enough has been crucial in achieving even the smallest gains in flexibility. Fortunately, there are plenty of products for just such an occasion! I've found the most success with my YogaEvo straps, which offer some elasticity and plenty of loops for holding on to the strap. Though it's still a tough battle, I'm making some progress with flexibility, which is a big factor in injury prevention.
4. Calf Compression Sleeves
One of my most noticeable opportunities for better recovery has always been my calves. The agony I suffered after anything longer than a few miles definitely needed to be addressed quickly, especially with distances increasing rapidly. I started wearing compression sleeves after my runs to increase circulation and drainage, and immediately noticed results. Couple the compression with some legs-up-the-wall and you'll be back on your feet and ready to run the very next day, even if you ran hard!
3. Foot Massagers
Do I even have to tell you that massage feels good? We all know it, unfortunately we're not always able to pay for professional massage, or even convince a friend or SO to give us a quick foot rub after a race (mostly because, well, feet are icky, especially runner feet). I solved this problem with a great Amazon find: a pair of small foot massagers that I can just plop on the floor and roll over whenever I need it. Having two has been nice, because the bigger one is great for all-over relaxation, while the smaller knobby one has let me focus on the spots that need deeper attention. After 20+ miles, my tootsies need some love!
2. Foam Rollers
If you're in the fitness industry, you've probably heard all about foam rolling by now. Much like my little foot massagers, foam rollers are designed to help you give your tired aching muscles a little release without the scheduling and payment plans of visiting a masseuse. There are dozens of roller styles on the market, and I've tried many of them. I can't honestly say I have an overall favorite, as each style offers different hardnesses and benefits. By keeping a diverse range on hand, I'm able to self-treat just about any muscle ache quickly and thoroughly.
1. Telic Recovery Footwear
Massage and stretching go a very long way in keeping me running, but the most beneficial product I've added to my toolkit this year has by far been the Telic footwear that has barely left my feet for months now. Telics redistribute your weight across the soles of your feet, rather than leaving all the pressure on the same hotspots you're pounding into a pulp when you run. Now that I have Telics in both flip-flop and closed-toed styles, I pretty much always have my feet relaxing in comfort and support rather than trying to stuff them into shoes that are not optimized for recovery. I might go back to heeled booties or regular walking shoes eventually, but certainly not until I've completed my biggest running goals!
What's in your recovery toolkit? What recovery strategies have kept you moving through marathon (or any race) training? Have you ended up with recovery products that have become your every-day solutions?