Healing the Physical and Mental Body After a Marathon

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I love to move, I love to run, hike and bike; it excites me to be on the go exploring places. I have done many races, mostly half marathons but I have had this feeling of late that I would like to have more of a challenge. So last November, after discussing with some friends, I decided to sign up for Paris marathon. Although I had done one mountain marathon seven years ago, I had never done a city marathon. In fact, I had said to myself seven years ago that I would never do another marathon as after the last I had a knee injury which put me out of play for quite a few months. This was torture for me. Nevertheless, I felt ready to take up the challenge again and start training my speed and distance.

I used a training plan and did my best to stick to it. A plan is a plan, however in reality it is not always possible to keep to, due to work or travel plans, and illness, and maybe even injury. During this time you are not only using a lot of Yang, energy, but also Yin substances. You need Yin substances like blood for your muscles and fluid for sweat. Replenishing these substances as well as rest to refill your Yin and Yang is paramount. I tried to rest as much as I could, I ate a lot of whole foods and drank plenty of clean fluids.  All to ensure I had my Yin and Yang in balance. I also look supplements as no amount of food was going to replenish me entirely. It was a taxing time and fine tuning my daily routine was essential although difficult to maintain. Great so now I’m ready for the race. What I hadn’t thought about however was what about after.

42km is far. Really far. My fluids were drained, calories burnt and body was in burn out mode. My organs had worked hard to keep me running, my energy was drained. I took a recovery drink and I thought that should do it. How wrong I was and because I didn’t nourish my body properly, my physical body really did suffer. 

According to the Five Element system our muscles belong to the Earth element and are nourished by Heart blood, which is the Fire element. The flesh belongs to the Earth element, which should nourish the Metal element. The Lungs belong to the Metal element, which controls the Liver. The Liver stores blood and circulates Qi throughout the body. This is a finely tuned system which can easily become disrupted if you do not maintain physical and mental balance and replenish the stores. After a marathon you are mentally on a high, but this high cannot last as the high is from excess adrenalin and eventually it too will wain and the mental and physical will need replenishment. 

So, let’s break it down and discuss how to do this. Firstly, nourish your stomach with lots of Yin food. These include neutral to sweet foods like sweet potatoes, carrots and yams. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables. Eat grains like oats, kamut and brown rice. Eat slow cooked meats like beef, chicken and oily fish like salmon and tuna. Add fruits like bananas, pineapple and watermelon.

Rest, rest and rest. Sleep at least 8 hours a night and try and get an afternoon nap for the first two weeks after the race. Drink plenty of clean water. All your cells need water and need to be rehydrated. You also need to cleanse the body of all the toxins you have created. You have muscle fatigue, inflammation and excess lactic acid. This makes eating and drinking correctly more important than ever.

Take supplements. You need as much help as possible. A good multi-vitamin, like Core from micronutrients, replenish and rehydrate minerals with OmNourish and take lipoic acid to protect your cells from free radicals. These are but a few supplements you can take to support your recovery.

For more information contact me for a consultation as recovery is paramount to your continued enjoyment of the sport.

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