A lot of runners underestimate the importance of rest and recovery during their training. Recovering between sessions is key in order to improve. Whether you are training for a spring marathon or a 5k, being able to hit your ‘sessions’ hard, allowing the body to adapt, improve and get stronger will lead to achieving PB performances.
What is recovery? After a hard session your body needs time to recover and adapt to the stresses placed on it. Depending on the session it can take hours or days to recover fully. This is going to be completely dependant on the individual, the intensity, the duration and the distance of the session. When you train, you will develop your understanding of how your body recovers.
Active recovery sessions can help speed up stiff muscles. Swimming, yoga, easy running, stretching and cycling are all ways to increase blood flow to your recovering muscles. This will aid recovery and also help to build on the components of fitness.
If you take a day off training every week then you are not going to lose fitness, quite the opposite actually. The time off will allow your muscles, bones, tendons and respiratory system to adapt.
Post Race Recovery. Post race blues is something that every runner will go through. Having a structured recovery program will allow you to keep your mind active when you are in your down time and not to worry about the adaptations that are happening to your body. Taking time off will allow you to hit your next pricing block well motivated and feeling fresh.
Coming back too quickly from a race and training properly can lead to niggles and injuries. Don’t underestimate how long it can take to recover fully. For example, I would recommend a 4 week recovery plan after a marathon. With the first 2 weeks being very easy with next to no running and the second 2 weeks being a slow and gradual increase back to running.
The recovery phase after a race is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, dust off your mountain bike and enjoy being able to relax. You would have spent so much time and effort building up to a race, now it’s time to chill!
Post Session Recovery. There are a couple of things that you can do in the short term to kick start your recovery. Here are my tip tips for post session recovery:
1. Hydrate properly within 15 mins of finishing exercise.
2. Consume a well balanced meal within 90 mins of finishing a session. Aim for a 4:1, carbs to protein ratio
3. Sleep. Your body goes into recovery mode when you are sleeping. The hormones released during sleep help to repair your muscles. My next blog will be on the importance of sleep for endurance athletes.
4. Light S&C combined with movement patterns this will get your body used to moving properly and help to flush the muscles of lactic acid.
5. Physio and massage. In an ideal world, we would all have a couple of massages a week! This sadly is not possible for the vast majority of runners. A foam roller does a great job, it helps squeeze the blood out of your muscles, allowing oxygenated blood to enter, speeding up recovery.
Recovery should really not be underestimated in any training program. You should have the confidence to listen to your body and adapt your training program if need be! Get out there, train hard, and recover properly!