The art of recovery

So Lance Armstrong is running the New York City Marathon again this year. The seven-time Tour de France winner entered last year's race to raise money for his charity.

He set a goal of three hours and made it by 24 seconds. Said it was the hardest thing he'd ever done. Couldn't run for six months after the race. Turned out what he thought were shin splints that wouldn't go away during the race were stress fractures that took a long time to heal.

After that race, he said he'd never run another. A lot of people who run marathons will say that right after a race — when their legs have seized up and they feel like they can't take another step without shrieking in pain.

But it seems he's recovered well enough to run again this year. Says he's shooting for a sub-three hour run again and that he'll be better prepared.

Yeah, running a marathon takes a major toll on your body. And you do need sufficient time to recover.

Prepare properly for the race — or any bout of strenuous exercise — and your recovery will get off on the right foot. That means easing off your training as your race approaches, eating properly before, during and after the race and staying within your limits.

After last weekend's Toronto Waterfront Marathon, my quads were tender for the better part of two days. And on the third day, I laced up the shoes again and went for an easy jog.

There was the temptation to go again the next day, but I resisted. The body may feel good, but when you rush back too soon, you increase your risk of injury. And that's not good when you're trying to keep an almost three-year stretch of running injury-free intact.

And besides, there's plenty of time to get busy with the training when your next marathon is still more than six weeks away.