Maximize your training and progress with optimal recovery practices.
Runners love to talk about their training. Epic long runs, tough hill sessions and killer track workouts are all very exciting, and they make for good stories even years after they’ve been completed. Reliving every lung-burning second of a final mile repeat or leg-numbing minute of the last 20-miler and sharing these experiences with running friends are what drive many of us to adopt new training ideas, push harder in our own workouts, and gain that last tiny bit of confidence that tells us we’re ready to achieve our own racing goals.
Recovery runs don’t get quite the same play and replay. No one really likes to talk about what happens during downtime from training following a big training run or race because most of it, quite frankly, is pretty boring.
But that doesn’t mean recovery isn’t important. In fact, even more important than the training you’re doing is how well you’re recovering from that training. As a wise coach once told me, “You are only as good as you recover.”
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Why? Because recovery is when improvements happen. Yes, you need long runs, challenging workouts and steady weekly mileage to break out of your comfort zone and propel you to better race performances, but if you can’t recover from those hard efforts, they aren’t doing you much good. Without rest, not only are you denying your body time to adapt to the stress it’s under and to enable the gains you have made to take hold, but also you are sure to start your next workout under-fueled, exhausted, or possibly fighting off illness or injury.
As you rest — sleeping, relaxing on the couch on Saturday afternoon, or engaging in something slightly more active, such as your easy run days or appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs — you are reaping the benefits from your hard workouts. Stressed bones, broken-down muscle tissue, and exhausted energy systems are repairing themselves to come back stronger for your next workout and power you to a higher level of performance.