Recovery is a huge part of my training.  As the miles start to build up, it is so important for me to take the necessary steps to help my body recovery properly and quickly.

When I look at recovery, I think of it in terms of fluid intake, caloric intake, and muscle treatment.  Trust me, I am no expert nor physician when it comes to health but I have dialed in some easy steps I take to help my body recover after a long run, ride, or swim.  Here are three simple steps I use for recovery.

1) Fluids, fluids, fluids.  No matter how much I was able to consume during a long workout, I make it a point to take in as many “good”fluids as possible immediately after I finish.   I have been a chocolate milk lover since birth, but I also use chocolate milk as a recovery tool after a hard workout.

2) Food, food, food.  Again, no matter how much I consume from a calorie perspective during a long workout, I find it very important to replenish my system fairly quickly afterwards.   My go-to lately has been a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich.   I have found this type of concoction gives my body the fat, protein, and calories needed to help fuel recovery.

3) Muscle attention.  I will use a combination of an ice bath plus compression afterwards to help reduce muscle swelling and soreness.  While I have a serious hatred of plunging into a cold tub of ice, it works wonders for my recovery.  I will also use compression sleeves or compression socks for my lower body.  I have found that if I use the ice bath and compression, my muscles are much less sore and recover much faster the days following an intense workout.

Post run ice / chocolate milk session while hanging with the pup


Muddy Miles in Rockburn

After a nasty Monday in MD, the skies cleared for a Tuesday evening run.  I headed south to the trails at Rockburn Park for an easy spin.  I parked at the trail head off Landing Rd and worked the trails to the west.  I knew it would be muddy, so the goal was to find as much dry dirt as possible in the park (I should say, find the sections of trail with the least amount of mud).  After covering most of the trails on the western side of Landing Rd, I was pleased to find that all sections were runnable even though wet.  The trails on the west side of landing road provide much less elevation change than the eastern trails so the run was more about getting in miles, than getting in elevation. There is a mix of wooded sections and open fields surrounding the ball parks, providing a fun mix of terrain and scenery.  Overall, I got in just over 6.25 miles making for a nice Tuesday evening run.

Trails West of Landing Rd in Rockburn Branch Park


Testing the Hoka One One Challenger ATR

After hearing the hype, I made the leap and picked up a pair of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR’s.  Spoiler alert…….I was not a fan.

I know I will be in the minority here, but I was not happy with the shoes.  I tested the shoes on some very technical terrain in Gambrill State Park and they did not perform well.

After wearing the shoes around the house for a few hours the day before the test drive, they felt very comfortable, but only a few miles into the run, I was already noticing issues.  Because of the added cushion, my feet rode very high in the ATR’s, making foot strikes on uneven terrain very unstable and uncomfortable.  My ankles and feet were tossed from side to side on every uneven step, putting a great deal of pressure on the outsides of my feet.  I cut my run short because of the discomfort I was experiencing.

Don’t get me wrong, Hoka One One is a great brand, and has worked wonders for so many runners.  I believe they put out a solid product.  The construction and quality was great, the fit and functionality (for me) was not.  Based on my experience, I would only feel comfortable using these shoes on groomed, flat trails.  Unfortunately, these will not be my new go-to trail shoes.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR's
Hoka One One Challenger ATR’s

Hike/Run With the Pups

Last evening I got out for a short hike/run with my two pups. We headed out on the trails at Soldiers Delight, near Owings Mills, MD. Parking at the trail head off Deer Park Rd, we did the counter clockwise loop on the parking lot side of the park.  Because of the recent snow melt, the trails were a muddy, slippery mess (the dogs were in heaven, like two pigs wallowing in a sty). Despite the nasty conditions, we were able to do a short 2.5 mile loop with a mix of hiking/running.

The Soldiers Delight trails provide a great mix of terrain and difficulty. They are a great spot for any level of trail runner to get in some scenic miles.

Stanley and Nellie loving life on the trails


Chilly Morning Miles

Despite the unusually cold Maryland temperature and wind chills hovering around zero degrees, I was able to get out for a solid 17 miles on Saturday.  I decided to head back to the Little Gunpowder Trails to explore some new sections and enjoy the beauty of the familiar scenery.  I parked at the trail head on Bel Air Rd and headed north west along the White Trail.  While staying on the White Trail, I crossed Harford Rd.  When I reached Bottom Rd, I followed the road for a few tenths of a mile up the hill before veering off to the right to pick up the White Trail.   Reaching Pleasantville Rd, I crossed and began a steep climb up to a lolly-pop loop of about 1.5 miles.  The loop brought me back to Pleasantville Rd where I headed across the bridge to the north side of the Little Gunpowder River for a couple miles on the Orange Trail.  I re-traced my steps and headed back along the White Trail to complete the run.  It was a crisp and cold morning, but the blue skies and sunshine made for a gorgeous run along the snow covered banks of the Little Gunpowder.

One of my favorite sections heading south east on "white trail"
One of my favorite sections heading south east on “white trail”