As we head full steam ahead into racing season it is important to remember that recovery is just as important as the training itself. Recovery in this instance refers to us taking a break after a hard run or taking some time out during our training program. Even though we think recovery is important, it is often the thing that we fail to make sure that we do, mostly out of fear that we will lose fitness or not hit the goal that we have set for ourselves.
In fact, this is indeed the opposite and unless you take recovery seriously and make sure that it is incorporated into your training plan, you may find that its not just a day or two that you are taking off, but a whole MONTH OR FEW to recover from an injury that is most likely caused by over training and hence no racing season for you!
Recovery following hard periods or days of training allows our bodies to adapt to the demands of these sessions and over time improve our performance. Of course, we know that recovery helps to reduce fatigue and you know yourself that hard sessions, especially if you are leading into the peak weeks of marathon training leave us feeling drained and depleted. These are the times to take these recovery days seriously as they will help re-build your glycogen and energy stores, restore those muscle fibres and get you ready for the next workout.
Some signs to look for that may send alarm bells that you need a recovery day are dehydration, a feeling of no energy, soreness that won’t go away, a high resting heart rate or a feeling that you just can’t be bothered!. These are signs that you may need to take a day or two off or even a bit longer to restore your body (or your mind) and let it rest.
Recovery doesn’t have to be total rest, you may opt for a day of cross training like swimming, walking or cycling, but at a lower intensity to what you are accustomed to in your training, but make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time for your body to recover from a hard training day.
Recovering after a race is VERY important and something that should not be avoided. You have worked hard, and you earned that medal, now its OKAY to give yourself a few days to a few weeks off. This may also not involve total rest, but gentle exercise and if you must return to running, build up the miles and speed gradually as your body (especially if you have just run a marathon) has worked a considerable amount and needs time to replenish and restore itself.
Take some time for you and relish in the fact that you made the distance.
Eating for recovery is also important. Making sure that we re-fuel our bodies with good food to help repair our muscles and replace our energy stores. After a hard workout it is important to make sure that you are consuming enough carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes to help replace what you have lost and allow your body to recover. A smoothie after a hard workout is a good option.
Is there something that you do to recover? Share with us in the comments below.