Magic soaps!

Where I attempt to recover from running a marathon…

Ages and ages ago I read (I think possibly on Claire’s blog) about Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps- I think she used the magic word- marzipan- so I bought myself some of the almond soap. I initially used it as handwash, but it clogged up the bottle, plus, because I ordered it online it ended up being a huge bottle- not that easy to use. When I used up my beloved Snow Fairy shower gel, I started using the almond soap instead. I really like it, although it does make my skin feel a bit tight at first, that seems to go once I rinse it off. I love the smell though.

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Little and large!

Then I was offered the chance to be sent some Dr Bronner peppermint soap- perfect for after long runs apparently, so of course I said yes.

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I love this! The peppermint smell is so refreshing and invigorating- after a long run it is perfect. I would like to try it as a foot bath too, but the tub is currently being used to soak the decorating brushes (we finally got around to painting the bathroom).

I was also sent some Westlab Epsom salts- again, totally perfect timing.

2015-04-13 14.11.30So on Monday evening, after travelling home from Brighton, I ran myself a bath, and used half the pack of salts. The guidelines said to use between 200g-1Kg, and so I thought I would use half (500g) for that day, and had for another day.

I am not really a bath person- I much prefer showers,  but when muscles are aching I do find the bath relaxing.

Now, I would consider myself more than a novice runner, but the recovery from the marathon had not crossed my mind at all. Andy and I have signed up to a 10K next weekend (so 2 weeks after the marathon)- there is also a half marathon and although I wasn’t sure about doing the distance, the main reason we chose the 10K was because it starts earlier, so we will have time for a shower after before having to check out of the hotel. It was on Tuesday that it occurred to me that I had no idea of when I should start running again. I know that lots of walking helps, but I have been doing a lot of paperwork (the joy of reports) so have been sat at the computer a lot, not ideal. So, my week went like this:

Monday: Walk to train station. Stand up on train. Potter around at home. Bath with Epsom salts. Very achy and stiff legs.At this point even getting up from a chair was tough, and I had to lower myself down onto chairs using my arms. I had a protein cereal bar after dinner as I had woken up so hungry the night before, and not slept well, and luckily I slept much better after that.

Tuesday: Spent the day with friends. Very stiff getting out of my car after driving. Little walk in the evening- starting to feel better. Still had to go down stairs one at a time.

Wednesday: Attempted a run because I managed to walk up and down the stairs fine. Decided I would try 2 miles, and really that ended up being too far. Felt OK at first, but then felt that I was not running properly due to stiff muscles. Felt shattered after. Went for a sports massage- quads and back, and felt better after. Walked around the shops- realised I needed something from the furthest shop and considered not going because I was so tired! Had a little walk after dinner as my legs were moving better after the massage.

Thursday: Walked up to the local shops in the morning for some fresh air. Had another walk after dinner. Legs feeling better. Had another bath with the other half of the Epsom salts, plus a little of the peppermint soap (as the salts don’t smell).

Friday: 3 mile run first thing. Still fairly slow, but at least I felt like I was running normally again. Walked into town at lunch. Leg muscles felt more like I had run 10 miles than 3. Not sure how long it should take.

Saturday: Parkrun- decided to go for it and just try not to go too crazy! My leg muscles started to get sore (like lactic acid build up) quite early on- maybe around a mile in, so I just enjoyed looking at the bluebells and beautiful scenery. A walk around town later was enough.

Sunday: Our running club had a photo shoot for the website (coming soon)- I could have run there and home, but it was a few miles away and I didn’t feel up to that far. I am very glad I did- in the end I parked up the road, ran down the hill, but was there early enough to run a lap of the lake. Then, as well as the photoshoot we had an activity rotation- hill repeats (so glad I did this one first!), stretches (turns out I can’t do the pigeon pose…) and then a techniques session. It was fab, but running back up to the car after that (especially the hills) was hard work. We then went out for brunch, before a nice walk around the town and then a visit to the newly restored cinema. I appreciated the sit down after the sessions of the morning

So in total I did 4 runs, just over 10 miles. A walk every day I think, and a couple of Epsom salt baths. Feeling close to normal now!

So, any advice as to how to recover? I have read the rule of thumb about one day per mile, but this is until you are back to normal again, it doesn’t mean take 26 days off. I also read this research where people who took 7 days off running ended up with better recovery than the people who did a few short runs in the week following a marathon. I suppose just because my legs aren’t painfully aching, it doesn’t mean all the muscles have been repaired. What I should have done is looked at a training plan, like this one. I like that they call it “Week Zero”. At least even the novice one says a 60 min run should be OK two weeks after! I am very glad we didn’t sign up for the half now!

*The soap and salts were sent for a review, all opinions are my own.

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20 thoughts on “Magic soaps!”

  1. Im not a runner so cant give you any advice on recovering but Im with you on Dr Bronner’s soaps – they ae divine, especially the peppermint one!

    1. I like the sound of the rose one too, but they last for ages (a good thing) so it will be a while before I sample another one!

  2. fantastic recovery, listening to your body and not pushing to hard or far is the best way.

    I love pigeon pose and generally want to stay in it for far to long 🙂

    1. I am really not flexible at all! Plus I find it hard copying other people- in the end someone had to come and help me because I was doing it wrong! I can see why it was good for stretching though.

  3. Sounds like you listened to your body well. I think after both my marathons it took until Thursday until I was ready to run again (both marathons were on the Sunday). I did lots of walking though the days after as we were in Paris and Berlin. I say walking, it was more hobbling but we were on our feet for a long time.
    I’ve heard that the more marathons you did and/or the better training you do the less it should ache the day after, which makes a lot of sense. I ached a lot after my marathons (sitting down and standing up were terrible) and I put this down to both being inexperienced and a severe lack of long runs.
    I take it you’re talking about the Southampton 10k? I’m doing the half, which is a little time afterwards. I hope it goes well for you and though Southampton isn’t quite as scenic as Brighton that you enjoy it 😉

    1. Yes we are doing the Southampton 10k 🙂 I am just hoping to make it to the end and enjoy- did 5 miles last night and that was hard work.
      I agree I remember my first half marathon and I could not walk properly after that, and for the next week I was still recovering, so it makes sense that the more you do something the better you recover. I think I should have waited until Thursday but I was a bit impatient!

  4. I found that I really struggled recovering from my first marathon – it probably did take me 26 days until I felt right again, which is reasonable really but frustrating. I had a few niggles after the race and then carried on going to club and they felt worse so I took a week off until my hip felt better.

    I was going to enter a race at the start of May, but I’ve instead decided that I might marshall it – don’t want to push myself too soon! Then on May 17th, so over 26 days after the marathon, I’ve got the Chester Half Marathon.

    I love a hot bath after a long run – scalding hot! Apparently they can be just as good as ice baths and less painful (I think so anyway!).

    1. I watched that truth about medicines and the ice bath was only a few % points better than a hot bath, so for elites I can see it would help, but for normal people whatever you prefer seems to be best- hot baths for me!

  5. I heard the 26 days after the marathon rule as well. I think after my first one it probably did take that long to recover fully and I probably pushed my body back into hard speed sessions too soon.
    MK will be my eighth marathon and I find I do recover much quicker than I used to, but I also fuel a lot better during the runs now and I think that plays a part. I also often run a marathon distance or above in the build up as training runs but obviously treat these a lot differently to racing a marathon. I will usually run a super easy 30minutes the following day after these training runs so that my legs don’t seize up. Lots of walking always helps too! Both of the trail marathons I ran this Winter were followed with long walks the following days to explore the area.

    1. Wow I didn’t realise you had done that many marathons, although I suppose with all your ultra running I should not be surprised!
      I think a walk after is fine, but there was no way I could have run the following day- my legs didn’t work properly!

  6. I love Dr.Bronners, the almond smells so good! Peppermint is nice too. I’m a big fan of epsom salts and try and use them twice a week. After my last marathon I took 2-3 weeks off completely, and it has really helped, my legs felt back to normal. Although my physio said to me that you should never just stop completely as it’s better to do gentle runs to recover. I guess whatever works for you.

    1. I think everyone is so individual- I think I would go crazy not running for all of that time, but probably an extra day would have been good really.

  7. It was on my blog – I love those soaps and the almond one smells divine! I find it quite hard to find in Bristol so it’s always a treat to get some. The peppermint one is lovely too. I know what you mean about the tight feeling, I don’t use the soaps in winter as they’re too drying but they’re great in the summer and for a ‘tingly clean’ feeling.

    1. I thought it was you! 🙂
      I ordered the first one from amazon as it was quite reasonable- that was why I didn’t expect it to be that big!

  8. I really love those Dr Bonner soaps. I always seem to go for the rose one, but think I might branch out and try some other scents. The almond one sounds lovely and I bet the peppermint one is very refreshing, especially after a long run.

    1. Yes, the scents are so good- really strong which I like- otherwise what is the point!

    1. Oooh that sounds nice too, although I think rose would be the one that would tempt me next.

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