My approach to marathon recovery? Pure hedonism!

February 23, 2008

The March issue of Northwest Runner includes an article on tapering for marathons written by Roy Stevenson, an instructor at Highline Community College. Roy interviewed me for this article, along with fellow Seattle Running Club members Alysun Deckert and Uli Steidl, and collectively we offered some reasonable but unsurprising advice: reduce your mileage, include some light speedwork, eat lots of carbohydrates, blah blah blah.

Roy is now working on a follow-up article, this one about recovering from marathons. He sent me an early draft and asked what I thought of it.

These seem like good tips, I said, but I don’t do any of this stuff!

When I finish an all-out marathon or ultra, my body is trashed. It will be many days before I’m physically ready to resume serious running, regardless of whether I take a post-race ice bath, whether I cross-train while getting my legs back, etc. Since this down time is unavoidable, why not just enjoy it rather than slavishly following some strict recovery regimen?

A case in point is my post-race dietary intake. Once my appetite returns, I usually crave fatty meat such as ribs or fried chicken, so that’s what I eat. Such an approach is not supported by any research that I’m aware of, but I justify it on psychological grounds. If the race went well, I’m celebrating my success; if it didn’t, the food is a consolation prize.

After all, there will be plenty of raw vegetables and whole grains to consume during the next training cycle.


  1. KFC used to be my post-race "recovery" food of choice, but lately I've taken a liking to cheese fries – with lots of salt!

  2. Sean: I *love* KFC! Always have, always will. As a kid, I would sometimes run 2 miles with my backpack to the nearest franchise, order the Wing Lover's Special (6 wings for $3.29 plus tax), haul it back home, and devour it.

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