With the NYC Marathon coming up many of you are getting ready to take on one of the biggest challenges of your lives. For months some of you have committed time and energy to this race, which – let’s face it has – fairly dubious origins. Here at the Yinova Center many of our friends and patients have used Traditional Chinese medicine to prepare for their run and also to answer a looming question all marathoners must face:
What comes after the race?
Whether you are a seasoned tri-athlete or this is a “one-time-bucket-list-check-off”, post-race conditioning is as important as getting ready for the race itself. All of the care and determination that got you to the starting line still needs to be summoned to recover after the run. The last thing you want is to have put all this effort in and have the resounding memory be an unhealed injury.
Advice on post-race rest, runs, nutrition and other activities are everywhere. From classic books to trainers’ blogs, there is a lot of great information available. Our friends over at Fred’s Team have particularly amazing post-run guidance. The challenges faced after the run, however, are generally agreed on and we have worked with many runners and their trainers to help overcome them. In broad terms, these include:
Exhaustion and immune suppression The energy that it takes to run a marathon can leave you and your immune system depleted. After the big run, you are more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The cortisol release alone that comes from this kind of exertion can dramatically lower your resistance.
Physiological stress A long race involves not only your muscles but also all of the organs involved in metabolism. A marathoner will easily burn over 2200 calories in a couple of hours. Electrolytes, neurotransmitters, and hormones all shift during a 26.2 mile run and you want to get your inner balance back as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Emotional stress Any marathoner will tell you that it’s all about where your head is. Yet even after all of the validation and psychological conditioning, many runners experience post-marathon blues. Sometimes it is because of chemical shifts and changes in neurotransmitters; sometimes it is simply not knowing what to do next after the excitement of this life-changing event.
Injuries from blisters to sprains, small or large, injuries are a given in this race. Absorbing the impact of 30-50,00 steps and all the training that went into it is bound to take a toll and improperly addressed injuries can linger for a long time to come.
The more prepared you are to take care of these things after the big run, the more likely you are to look forward to your regular athletic routine and a better training cycle in the future.
The tips for post-marathon recovery are simultaneously general and personal, based on your training background. Essentially they are:
- Hydrate and eat properly
- Heal both physically and mentally
- Resume your training with clear goals for after the run
We can use Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to support your post-marathon recovery and help get you back on the road faster and stronger. The foundation of a TCM approach is that your body functions best with an abundance of energy that is circulating smoothly through your body. Training for the marathon, as well as the run itself invariably throws us “off-balance” in the ways we described above. Here at the Yinova Center, we have developed a program to help get marathoners, as well as other endurance athletes back on the road. Our 4-week program uses acupuncture, Chinese Herbal medicine, topical applications, massage, and lifestyle recommendations to support marathoners through key recovery stages.
After taking into account your individual constitution, the hallmark of Chinese medicine, we custom tailor a foundation plan to meet your personal needs.
- Attend to acute injuries
- Support immune function
- Promote qi circulation for general aches and pains.
- Continue to address injury healing
- Reduce stagnation physically (aches) and mentally (depression, insomnia)
- Begin to re-build Qi energy to support physiological health
As your body heals and you are getting back in the game, we will begin to tonify the blood that nourishes muscles and provides fuel for them as well as continue to address any unresolved issues.
From here we look forward to increasing your athletic performance with an increased focus on your individual, constitutional picture and addressing any lingering post-marathon health concerns.
This plan, along with conscientious cross-training has proven itself to be a sensible part of making the most out of your marathon experience.