Key to Race Recovery: Keep Moving

Not much rest in Shalane Flanagan’s post-marathon plans

November 2, 2012

Flanagan came in 10th in the women’s marathon at the London Olympics.

What did Shalane Flanagan do after the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday? Whatever she wanted — because the elite athlete didn’t run the 26.2-mile race. (She cheered on participants as a representative of Nissan’s Innovation for Endurance program.)

Although the ensuing Superstorm Sandy made it easy for some to stay cooped up, the 31-year-old hopes none of the MCM finishers decided to copy what she did after her first marathon in 2010: nothing. Coming in second place in the New York City Marathon called for a reward, so a week’s rest in Hawaii sounded like a good idea. It was — until she tried running again.

“I had quad soreness that lasted a month,” says Flanagan, who has since developed a smarter marathon recovery plan, which she used this year at the Olympic trials and the Olympics (where she placed 10th).

It starts with eating whatever she wants. “Usually, that’s a burger and fries,” Flanagan says. She tries to get a massage “to flush the race out of my legs” as soon as she can. And then she keeps running lightly every day.

Since coming back from the London Games, Flanagan has geared her schedule to shorter races.

“Post-Olympics, there’s this lull. It’s a way to have new stimulus and new goals,” says Flanagan, who had planned to go directly from Washington to New York to run Saturday’s Dash to the Finish Line 5K. But that event was canceled so organizers could focus their attention on Sunday’s marathon. Next up is a trip to Australia in December for a 10K track race.

In January, she’ll be going the distance again to start preparing for April’s Boston Marathon. The race is a goal for many runners, but it’s a particularly meaningful milestone for Flanagan, who grew up in Massachusetts. “I try not to think about it, or I get too worked up,” she says.

And someday, Flanagan promises, she’ll return to the Marine Corps Marathon as a participant.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Vicky Hallett | November 2, 2012