Saturday, 25 April 2015

Ashdown Park Spa Day - How to win at marathon recovery

I’m not sure what I enjoyed the most – running strong to PB glory at Brighton Marathon this month or the epic spa day of pampering and indulgence afterwards at the gorgeous Ashdown Park Hotel. 

I've only ever had a spa day once before, and that was a Groupon deal for Bannatynes in Hastings for my birthday a few years ago. Whilst it was a great day, there was a distinct 'leisure centre' feel about the place and we didn't feel comfortable sauntering around in our robes. 

Ashdown Park though. All kinds of yes. Nestled in the midst of beautiful Ashdown Forest, the hotel is one of most sought after spa hotels in Sussex and I was more than a little excited to get there now that I didn't have to concentrate on the marathon. 


Great minds...


It seems I wasn’t the only marathoner with the same idea that day – there were a few other runners taking advantage of the facilities – we were a conspicuous breed; easily identified by our aching shuffles and collective post-run groans.  

For all of us, race day came after six months of hard training – from the relentless 6am Sunday alarms for the long run, pre-work intervals and gym sessions, to all of those tough hills sessions around Brighton’s beastiest inclines in the battering winter rain.

As I've mentioned, the whole of Brighton came out to play for marathon day and I bounced round the course lapping it up, enjoying my big moment, (all 4:55:56 of it); never letting the smile leave my face. It was tough in the latter miles but I’d worked hard for months and wanted that PB. [insert #thisgirlcan reference here] 

Waking up the day after with surprisingly still mobile (ish) legs and heading to Ashdown Park for a much-anticipated day of indulgence, I relished the time to relax, recuperate and reflect on my achievement.



From all the enticing spa packages on the menu, the Afternoon Tea Spa Day stood out the most. Having daydreamed for many months about visiting the hotel for its legendary Afternoon Tea, it seemed only right that the post-marathon recovery day be done in style with a spa day AND cake.

Because that's why we run, right? For cake? :)

From the moment we arrived we were welcomed and treated like royalty, given a tour of the Country Club facilities and given our complimentary robes and slippers. I slid my bruised, sorry-looking marathon feet into mine with pride. 

Only one black toenail this year, and no pins & needles during the race. A win for my Brooks Glycerins :)

Steering clear of the fitness suite...


Needless to say, as well equipped and impressive as the fitness suite was (and it really was, there was proper gym porn in there guys, kettlebells, barbells and EVERYTHING), I steered clear as I don't think my legs would've forgiven me if I'd have tried to do a workout. 

Or allowed me for that matter.  






























We opted instead to start the day with a walk around the beautiful grounds, wandering the rolling country trails as they meandered through the forest and fields, making friends with horses and squirrels, and even spotting a roosting owl. 




After last year's epic DOMS I knew it was a good idea to keep moving after the marathon, and the walk definitely did me good, despite the inevitable aches and tightness that lingered from my run. 

I was surprised just how well my legs were moving actually, after the initial protest from first getting out of the car (it was a 45minute drive), the comedy penguin walk from last year was nowhere to be seen. 




Running wanker and proud


Once we’d got back to the Country Club, a few lanes in the pool and a dip in the gorgeous, hot Jacuzzi were on the menu. I need to get back on my swimming this summer as I didn't have time to work on it during this round of marathon training. 

The pool area was a haven of peace and tranquillity; dimly lit and inviting, with only the sound of the water lapping the tapered edge and the occasional turn of a magazine page from other guests.

Of course, I took my running magazines, because I'm a total running wanker. And proud.

























   

Cake porn


When we made our way to the Fairways Lounge to enjoy our Afternoon Tea, the table was already laid out for us, and the most gorgeous selection of cakes, sandwiches and freshly prepared scones were waiting to be inhaled enjoyed. 

The photo doesn't do it justice, so get ready for some cake porn...


Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review
















Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review


Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review
Queen of Pudding Cake with a Meringue top. Can I get a hell yes??

This little beauty... banana and white chocolate cupcake. ACTUAL HEAVEN. 

Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review
True story... 

Happy Tess :) 
The full body aromatherapy massage that followed this epic sugar binge was, as to be expected, absolute bliss. I entered the therapy room into a world of calm, and left my tired, aching body behind on the table.

The rest of the day was spent meandering between the pool, sunloungers, Jacuzzi and sauna, (still steering clear of the fitness suite!), with the occasional visit to the Fairways Lounge to enjoy our complimentary drinks as part of the package. 


It was tough, guys. I'm not gonna lie. 


 Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review

The moody clouds that towered over us on our walk that morning had parted by the early evening and sunshine poured in through the wide windows of the lounge, a perfect end to the most relaxing day.  

Ashdown Park Hotel Afternoon Tea Spa Day review


I arrived at Ashdown Park an exhausted, aching and elated PB-holding marathon runner, and I left in a whole new skin – completely relaxed, over-indulged, and absolutely certain that post-marathon spa days are to be an essential requirement from now on!

Fort William in July - does anyone know any good spa hotels up that way?? :) 

If you fancy a day of utter indulgence with a Spa Day or Afternoon Tea at Ashdown Park Hotel, head to their website for a little looky at what's on offer! (And take me with you please!) 


How do you recover from marathons and other goal races, do you have any post-race rituals? Have you ever been to Ashdown Park? 

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