Friday, September 22, 2017

Aye, that's the rub

I got back to running much earlier than I'd have expected following the Haliburton Forest 50 miler - after just 5 days off, I felt ready to go...but since Friday is my carved-in-stone rest day (and date night with Tanker!), I waited until Saturday to hit the trails again.

At gorgeous Christie Lake Conservation Area

I didn't feel super strong - there's still a lot of deep-down fatigue from the race - but I was able to enjoy a little 5-ish kilometer loop around the lake as the fall colours began to appear and the sunlight fell golden on the trees and water.

Seriously. This was an amazingly beautiful place to run.
I highly recommend doing it with friends at the Sticks n'Stones Trail Race next month!

I wonder how much of my early recovery - I'd expected to be out of commission for running for at least 7 or 8 days, if not more - can be attributed to the awesome massage I got on the Monday after, and how much I can consider increased resilience. I did put in a rather large block of racing earlier this year: 206km in 11 weeks between Pick Your Poison, Sulphur Springs and Limberlost, then just 4 weeks after that I ran 40km/more than 6.5hrs at the Haliburton training run and had 5 weeks to recover before the 50 miler itself. The increased recovery rate - or at least the beginnings of it - could even be traced back to the end of last year's racing season, when I raced two 6-hour ultras in a fortnight.

The only other thing that may have helped is that I give myself regular rub-downs with substances that claim they'll help with sore, tired muscles. Just before we left the Haliburton Forest Wildlife Reserve after the race, I stopped in at the office and saw little vials on the counter labelled "Golden Rod Oil". Curious, I asked the girl at the desk what it was; she said it was great to rub on aching muscles, and that the forest's employees had been having excellent luck with it. Considering this was less than a day after I finished running for almost 13 hours, I was sold.

Then I just had to make it down the one, single step off the deck outside the office.
I'd be embarrassed to say how long this took me.

In the days that followed, I'd use the goldenrod oil or my usual go-to of arnica to rub on whatever happened to hurt, and things began to feel better. The market is, of course, replete with creams, gels, oils and other goops that claim they'll set you right as rain if you'll just squirt some on the affected area. I've always wondered, though: is it actually the stuff in the tube/roller vial/tub/pick-your-own-container that is doing your muscles the good, or just the fact you're actually giving them a good rub? Is it really some transference of chemicals through your skin, or possibly just the increased temperature and blood flow from manipulation that loosens things up? Would I feel just as refreshed after working in some moisturizer?

At least it would be good for my skin..

After making the princely investment of $2.50 on the goldenrod oil, I did some searching on teh interwebz to see if there was anything to back up its claim as a liniment. I didn't find much to turn me into a believer - nor is there a lot of science backing up any other muscle goop claims. There are some, but not many.

Maybe someday I'll do an experiment to see if I can figure it out for myself. If you ever see me giving my legs a vigorous rub-down with cooking oil or sunblock after a race, you'll know that curiosity finally got the best of me. In the meantime, I'll keep rubbing in some goldenrod oil, arnica, or whatever other voodoo magic happens to come my way...because a rub-down even with plain old water is still better than nothing at all, and my poor legs need all the help they can get!

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