We Challenged Becs Gentry To Take a True Post-Marathon Rest Day

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When Becs Gentry was preparing to run the Boston Marathon, her training prep included a not-so-surprising admission–this perennial road runner sometimes struggles with taking a true rest day. After years of daily training (and a regimen that often tops 100 miles a week), sitting still doesn’t always feel truly natural. So we challenged Becs to take a true passive recovery day, and share with us her diary of doing absolutely nothing. How did she do? Read on to find out.

8:00am: I woke up the day after the marathon feeling quite refreshed, but Tuesday was ironically a beautiful day in Boston, unlike race day. We were staying with my aunt and uncle, who took my husband and I to a diner nearby and we had a really good refuel since I struggle to eat right after a big race. Normally after a marathon I get quite sick–a form of dehydration and exhaustion hits. I’m not someone who goes out and drinks all the Boston beer, I’m in bed by 5pm. I was ready for a massive meal.

10:30: I wanted to go for a half hour walk to get the blood moving, and so we re-walked the final turns from Charles St onto Boylston and then all the way down the finish to relive the moment. Everything about the Boston Marathon is so steeped in history, and from the Peloton side, there was a huge community there cheering for me and the love just blew me away. This race was really a lifetime high.

11:30: We went to Tracksmith running house, and hung out there with a ton of other runners. We were all talking about the race, I met Bill Rogers who was there signing books. I was high on the endorphins of the race but also the talent and history of it.

12:30: We took a quick 20-minute walk back to my aunt’s house. My uncle is a fiercely proud Bostonian and my aunt has spent most of her life in Boston, so it was great to be outside seeing the city with them.

1:00: I had my first Dunkin Donuts donut–a jelly donut. It was so Boston and so American and just heaven. I worked on the train down to Boston; my rest days are really dictated by workload–I have deadlines and emails and it gives me a reason to prioritize that. I put a reminder on my watch to make sure I got up every 45 minutes to get up and walk up and down the car so my legs didn’t get too stiff.

3:00: This rest day was definitely somewhat enforced because I was traveling; I don’t think I even hit my stand goal on my watch. I was eating a lot on the train, the hunger was really hitting. A marathon recovery isn’t just a rest from exercise, it’s a rest from all the mental strain–diet choices, exercise routines, bedtime restrictions. Initially I think I wanted to run that day, but by the time we were back in New York, I was ready to leave the trainers where they were.

5:00: We got back around 4:45 and walked home to shower and change, and I was finally feeling up to celebrating. We went out for a nice dinner and some champagne to celebrate and then stopped at a little wine bar on the way home. The day after racing I plan to have that extra sleep-in; normally if I had wine with dinner, I wouldn’t have another glass of wine, but I thought “Sod it, I can.”

9:00: I was so relaxed when I went to bed and had an incredible night’s sleep. Mentally a lot of marathoners feel ready to run again quickly, if they have no injuries or focused pain site from the race–you’ve been in this routine for weeks or months and it’s hard to just drop that within a day. You have to be very aware that you feel great, but your body can’t handle the intensity and volume you were training at before.

I taught a beginner intervals class Wednesday which was perfect for my continued recovery–I was watching my heartrate and it was like I was running at my normal interval speed even though I was well within our speed guidelines for a beginner class. I was running at 6mph when I would normally be running at 10mph and I was breathing like Darth Vader. That’s your body’s internal signal to chill out. I did a short cool-down run after that and walked around with my in-laws for a while and stayed active, but it wasn’t a rigorous day either–a nice walk by the water, some more champagne, and some real malleability in my routine.

We just got a Peloton bike in my building, so a few days later I took my first class, and I’m trying a beginner yoga class this week–I can do slightly different things and make sure that cortisol level comes down and my heart rate goes back to normal. I’m feeling much more myself now. I’ve got one more race in May, which is a half for which I just have to maintain my current level of fitness, and then I can really take a break!