Recovery Days in Running?

It’s a tough debate. Once you’ve gotten bit by the running bug, it can get a bit addicting. Four days of running a week may somehow turn into 7 days of running a week. After all, a few more miles never hurt anyone, right?

For me, I always seemed to benefit from running low mileage. In high school I was a middle distance runner (often times it felt like I was a sprinter!). I ran the 400 and 800 and anything over the 800 was way too long for me. Those days are long gone, and I no longer desire to sprint 2 laps around a track. I much prefer running a nice steady paced 26.2. WOW! I never thought I would be saying that! And yes, running has become something that I really enjoy, so running 7 days a week for me seems completely reasonable. Crazy? Perhaps! My boyfriend says so.

The tough debate about running every day ensues especially when you are training for something and you add in more than just “runs”. You add in a speed workout, or a long run, hill repeats, etc. Those runs make you tired. And with those runs, it is essential to ensure that your recovery days, if you are running are SLOW! Something I often times forget, and pay the price for later.

Two weeks ago I was hit with the GI bug. Not only did I miss a few days from running, it really took a toll on my body. It took me about an entire week to fully recover from it. I tried to do a longer run only a week out from the GI bug, and I struggled big time. Whether it was still from being tired from the illness or not, I’m not sure. What I do believe, though, is that I tried to get back into things too quickly, especially the faster pace of my runs. Bottom line, this is what I believe to be essential to balancing your training in order to get full benefit from each run, while ensuring proper recovery. And of course, each person is different. And each year of running builds upon itself. So for me, this training plan is working. But I have been running for over 10 years now. The most important thing to do is to listen to your body, and base your training on how you feel. Take a day off if your knee hurts, or your foot hurts. Take two off if it continues to hurt, etc. Take a day off if you feel run down. If you feel good, GO WITH IT. And run fast! And most importantly, enjoy each day of training :).

My running plan:
1 speed workout session a week – typically a 6 mile TEMPO run with a 1 mile cool down jog. I have found the most benefit from doing tempo runs at a sustained pace. Mile repeats, hills, etc. don’t seem to do as much benefit for me.

1 long run session a week – Right now I am gearing up for a Spring marathon. I will begin my actual marathon training some time after January. I am keeping my long run steady at the same distance and working on maintaining a faster speed throughout the long run.

Filler Runs – the rest of my runs are just those “junk” runs. They offer a lot of benefit aerobically, but I don’t try to run any certain pace. Sometimes I have to make sure I slow myself down on the runs. I typically try to make sure I run slow the day before a speed session or long run, and slow the days after those workouts. I still know that I probably run “too fast”, but for me the paces I run seem to work out just fine, and I have been recovering well.

Down weeks – every 4th or 5th week I like to take a down week where I decrease the amount of mileage and the pace of my runs. I may even skip a speed session or a long run.

OFF DAYS – I want to run every day, but I know that some weeks I cannot. I took an off day last week, and it was very much needed. I felt great after taking that day off and my runs have been so much better since. Right now my plan is to run 13 days in a row then take 1 day off and do nothing! Eventually one can work themselves up to running every day, but my recent year plus long injuries have put a hamper on that. I am still in my build up process.

That’s it! OH! One other thing I forgot to mention. FOAM ROLLING and COMPRESSION SOCKS! I swear by them both. I am the world’s worst person at remembering to stretch, but I remember to foam roll and it has been great at helping me get ready for runs and loosen up tight spots before or after a run.
Compression socks have also been a great new asset to my running wardrobe. I wear them for every run. They offer warmth, which for the area I am currently living in, I need that – this past weekend I was running in the snow – and they also seem to help with my legs recovering.

How many days do you run per week? Do you do any speed workouts? If so, what is your favorite?



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