|Only photo I have of massage, back at the 2009 Rome Marathon with Roberto 'the Butcher of Pimlico'|
One of the biggest challenges of running four 100-milers over the summer for the Grand Slam is recovering in the three to four weeks between each race. So far I've found a few easy tips have helped but the more races I do, the more the body has to deal with so the more important these become.
1. Rest - don't feel the need to run much between races. The main training occurs before the first race so I take at least one week completely off running after each 100. Even after that my mileage is tiny compared to normal, generally not running on consecutive days.
2. Don't race in the rest periods - it's tempting to throw in extra races to fit in long runs to get rid of the 'guilt' of running less than normal. I paced at the Badwater 135 a few days before race number two at Vermont. The speeds involved were gentle enough to not be an issue but the sleep deprivation and overnight flights didn't help.
3. Eat well - the body has so much more muscle damage to deal with than during normal training and the recovery rate needs to be so much quicker. Nutritionist Meredith Terranova gave me some pointers here - lots of protein, branch chain amino acid supplements, CoQ10 supplements and BComplex/B12 vitamins. Generally I try to get my nutrients purely through food, but in this extreme case I can see the benefit of topping things up.
4. Quality sleep - giving sleep a higher priority than usual and aiming to get eight hours or more as often as possible allows the body to heal itself more effectively. Events like the Grand Slam involve a huge amount of time so it's worth including this as part of that commitment.
5. Massage - I generally get a sports massage every two to four weeks even when in normal training, but I find it really helps to get one of these about three to four days after each race (to allow enough time for muscle soreness to subside) and again about a week later (when a deeper massage can be given). It reduces tightness and I certainly find it speeds up recovery, even if that hasn't been proved conclusively in scientific studies.