The Post-Marathon Recovery Ride


This year I set out to accomplish something I had never done before: run a marathon. I am so proud to say I accomplished just that. I ran my first marathon in my city, Houston, Texas, and I finished in 4:55 – my goal was to finish in less than 5 hours!

There’s only one way to celebrate an accomplishment…

My training for this personal accomplishment was anything but ‘by the books’. I’ve never been a traditional runner.

  • Until I got my iPhone three years ago (I was late to the smartphone game), I never knew how far or how fast I ran. I just went for a run – always with my partner in crime, Patch (a Mini Aussie).
  • I never listen to music when I run. Running, for me, is a chance to be outside and hear nature (or city sounds) around me.
  • I’m uninterested, or rather unmotivated, by a need for speed when I run. I am happy jogging along at a 10:00-mile pace. Sometimes Patch and I average closer to 10:30-minute miles. We enjoy every moment of our runs.

While I did allow (make) myself to miss television premieres and encouraged myself (through many internal monologues) to eat a balanced and healthy diet while hydrating throughout the day, I refused to give up my weekly riding lessons. My marathon goal was important, but let’s be realistic – running a marathon did not rank about above horsey time on my list of priorities.

Therefore, when it came down to deciding my recovery activity for the day after my marathon, it was an easy decision: go horseback riding.

I had a great night’s sleep after my race, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t tighten up too much the following day. (My hamstrings were my problem area post-race. I needed to keep moving.)

People called me crazy for going to the barn after my marathon, but honestly, I don’t think there was a better recovery option for me. It made me move in ways I would have been reluctant to move otherwise. For example, as I bent down to pick out my horse’s feet and put on her boots, I realized it was the first time all day that I had bent over to that extent. My hamstrings were so tight that I had actively avoided bending down in any capacity.

My trainer, a runner herself, promised to not go to extremes in my lesson. We focused on flatwork and she graciously avoided anything that required me to drop my stirrups.

The bottom line: horses make my heart happy. No better way to relax and reflect on an accomplishment than to spend time in the saddle.

Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.


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