by Running Programs Director, Kevin Collins
One ingredient of training that holds value that I don’t discuss much is “recovery”. The main reason I don’t is that is an easily misinterpreted component of training that many times gets confused as a reward following hard training vs. a tool that is used for your progress. I give you ONE off day per week. This is meant to be a total rest day that is meant for the following reasons….
– To give you a mental rest from training by removing the concept of running as a form of infinity in your daily life.
– To prevent injury by giving you a pressure-free day that also allows you to catch up on sleep.
– To be able to enjoy your fitness at social events and among friends and family without any pressures that day to have to disengage to “get your run in”.
– To be reminded of something runners and people whom workout often forget. 24 hours minus a workout is a pretty nice long day!
When is a recovery day useful? Well, that depends on what you feel you need it for Recovery, confidence, secure quality or completion of a particular workout, the aforementioned? Here are some suggestions for when it’s best of service for you…
The day BEFORE Speed workout or tempo run. If fresh legs are in order, try it the day before a speed workout so that you can guarantee that you show up ready to bring out real quality in your scheduled workout!
The day BEFORE your Long Run. If you are taking on a lengthy long run that you either have not done recently or taking on a distance you have never done in your life, this can bring the freshness to your legs that can give you the confidence to finish!
The day AFTER your speed workout or tempo run. This will ensure that you are absorbing the benefits of a workout. Like a dry sponge soaking up water, your body will absorb the benefits of a good hard workout much better with your off day the next day.
The day AFTER your long run. Same as above. This can also ensure that you are safely given a day to stay off your legs so as not to compound mileage in a tight space so as not to create an overuse injury.
Travel Day. Once your schedule is dependent on arrivals which are often linked to the schedules of others who most times are NOT factoring in a run with you later, things get stressful. Plan your OFF day on travel day!
SUNDAY. More often than not, you’ll find family and social events on Sunday afternoons and you certainly can count on the kids being home. Don’t miss life. Young people especially, you will find yourself wishing years back with family with shorter lifespans with you by mid-life. This can apply to friends, too. Wherever your dearest are planning activity in the week, that’s the day to plan off. Select your day wisely! It can also be Friday or Saturday. Refrain from all three. Be disciplined on that second day and remember 15 minutes counts!
Cross-training Day. Rest day from running can include something alternative. Maybe this “rest” day is a rest from running only. Yoga, a full-body weight-lifting day, a Hydro-run or swim day. Try something else.
No Days Off. I personally run 7 days per week as many runners do. If you choose this method of “active recovery” you can substitute this as “jog day”. While a base run is a more mindless run, you can also substitute that “OFF” day with a “jog” day. However, you must have the discipline to FORCE the pace VERY easy. This is a useful option for those of you who thrive on habit. I don’t like to permit myself OFF days because I don’t personally like my mind to be conditioned in any way to even grant one. It’s a matter of focus maintained for me and not breaking momentum. Not for everyone but perfectly fine if you remember to call it “jog” day!
Remember also…When you are NOT running speed, tempo, or long run you are running for endurance and conditioning only. You do NOT have to run hard to build endurance and base conditioning specific to running, you just have to run. Mindless, pace-less, distance-less minutes. Set a # of minutes and let your mind wander. With company let the conversation flow. Do not treat every running day as you would a race with any set goals. This is both exhausting and pointless. Save your aggression for a hard or long run day.
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