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Recovery. How does it work?

Haven’t had time to post much of my own thoughts lately but wanted to share some thoughts on recovery.

It’s pretty simple and it all relates back to physiology – break the body down and let it build up. Whether you’re training for a marathon or 5k, the approach is still the same.  The idea is that you perform a hard workout to stress the body. This includes the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system, basically the entire body.  So whether your are doing a speed workout with intervals, a long run, or a strength workout, you will be breaking the body down and repair is needed.

Some “myths” to consider. 

If you just ran your long run of say 12-15 miles and you think that by “stacking” another 10 mile run on the next day will help prepare your legs, it won’t. In fact you’ll probably get more benefits by taking the day off after a long run and letting the “repair” process happen.

Run intervals today and then do a strength workout for legs the next day on your “day off”?  Not exactly. You would be much better off doing the intervals and strength on the same day and using the following day as a recovery day.

What to do on a recovery day?

This all depends on what you’ve done and wear your at with your training!  If you just ran 18 miles on Sunday and your legs are sore and you have a 14 hour work day on Monday- take Monday off! Consider the same scenario and you’re fairly well trained with no leg soreness and an easy workweek ahead of you, then a 3-6 mile easy run is fine.

Recovery runs should be easy.  Easy, easy, easy.  So if your typical pace is a 8:30-9:00 mile you should probably run your recoverys around a 9:30 to 10:00 mile. I know it sounds crazy but trust me, you’ll feel so much better when resume your typical training schedule. You’ll have some spring in your legs!


So to review. If you don’t recover, you’ll never improve. There are many approaches that training programs will utilize to build in recovery.  As an example, marathon training programs typically use the 3 week approach of building milage on the long run, and then backing off for a week before building again.  The week of backing off is just as crucial, if not more, than the long runs you just performed. I feel the best way is to listen to your body and if you’re legs feel   “dead”, they probably need rest.

Need some help with your training? Post in in the comments below and I’ll respond!

Dr. Nick

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