Recovery

11 May 2014, 15:09

With every race and training period comes the inevitable aftermath. When you’ve worked so hard for a goal race and pushed your body and mind to their limits on race day, you really need to then take some time off to recover. As for how long you need to recover – well, this varies greatly based on the distance, your experience, and your own body.

  • Distance – Pushing yourself for a track race places its own demands and stress on the body, but the recovery time after a track race is far, far less than you’d need for a marathon. In general, the time needed to recover is proportional to the distance raced.
  • Experience – If you bang out a 5k Parkrun every weekend for three years, you’re probably not going to need as much recovery time as someone who put in the same effort level but for whom it’s their first race. Likewise for marathons – if you’re on your 100th marathon (in which case, you really have no need for taking my advice!) then you’ll likely need less recovery than someone who’s just run their first, or for someone who only runs one a year. This is also where the length of your running “career” (for lack of a better word) comes in – the longer you’ve been running, the better adapted your legs and body are to the impact and general strain that the repetitive motions make. Having a good, solid running base means you’ll probably need less recovery than someone who’s only been running a year.
  • Your own body – But here’s the tricky bit – all else aside, you need to observe how your own body reacts after a hard race, and for that, you need to make mistakes and then learn from them! I myself found the hard way that I need to take it easy for a full four weeks after a marathon or my immune system just can’t cope. So I run as and when I want for those four weeks, getting lots of sleep and rest, and importantly not fully pushing myself on speed or hill training during that time.

So for the past four weeks since London marathon I’ve been trying to put my own words into practice. For the first two weeks this was easy – I caught an awful head cold two days after the race, and this pretty much forced me to do absolutely no running, and lots of sleeping and resting, too! Then, just as I was starting to feel better, we headed off to Brittany in France for a week’s holiday. I packed my running kit, expecting to head out maybe once or twice during the week we were there, but the gite we rented was in the historic centre of a medieval town, perched at the top of a hill that would make Swain’s Lane blush, full of narrow, cobbled alleyways. And to top it off, it rained most of the week, which would’ve made the steep, narrow, cobbled streets slippery, too! So I mostly carried on resting, and eating (Brittany is known for its seafood and salted caramel everything)!

ice cream recovery

When we finally got home, I was feeling lardy and lazy enough to head out for a few river runs, and a return to Run dem Crew, too (stepping down a few groups rather than run at “suicide pace” with the Elites!), but I could tell from my heavy legs that I still wasn’t fully recovered. I’d signed up to Nike’s We Own the Night Women’s 10k this weekend, but wasn’t really in the mood to push myself (more on that later). I like to give myself room to listen to my body and my legs and see how they’re progressing, and right now I feel like I’m maybe about 80% back. I’m going to ease back into a routine over the next few weeks and start Proper Training again at the start of June. I’ve got the Bupa London 10,000 at the very end of May, which should give me a good indication of where I’m at and what my “comfortable” pace is again!

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