Most runners do not take long before they are addicted to the infamous “Runners High” and quickly fall into a steady pattern of run, repeat, run, repeat… Sounds pretty good, commendable in fact. Is there a problem?
Speak to any running coach and one of the first things that they will teach you is that fitness gains occur during the recovery phase. To better understand this, imagine you are holding a balloon, as you squeeze the balloon it becomes a little deformed (out of shape), when you release the balloon (rest and recovery) it swells out nice and round again, squeeze too hard and long and it might just burst (overtraining!). Only difference is, our “balloons” expand a little bit more and get a little more resilient after each training “squeeze” – and that is getting fitter 101.
Now there are three important recovery phases that we need to pay attention to:
- Directly after training:
The principles of recovery can be summed up in the 3 R’s, Refuel, Rehydrate and Repair.More detail here
2. Your weekly training schedule
It is important to allow at least 36-48 hours of recovery after a high quality or very long session before attempting another hard session. Recovery could be a complete rest day or a light short jog. A good coach will be able to determine how much hard training and how much recovery is optimal for you.
3. Post race and Annual Breaks
It is important to allow enough time to recover both mentally and physically after a hard race. Also pick a time in the year when you take 2 weeks complete break from running.