Why Recovery Matters

Training in its simplest form, is merely placing a demand, or load, on the body (the workout) and then allowing it a chance to respond (recovery). It is that response to the load that we call “getting fitter/faster/stronger”.

Now you will see that there are three key words at play here:

  1. LOAD
  2. TIME

And these repeat (or should) in that order.

One of the primary challenges of any coach is to both apply the optimum load (best volume, intensity and type) for the desired response (or fitness improvement) AND to allow the optimum amount of time for the body to respond (a.k.a recovery).

When do things go wrong or take too long (or don’t happen at all!)?

1)Not applying a big enough load or always doing the same

Let’s assume you can comfortably run 5 kilometers in 30 minutes (6 min/km). Now every day you go out and you run 5 km at 6 min/km.Your body has no reason to implement major fitness changes. It can do this. The result, the regular running will help you stay 6 min/km fit and probably improve a little, but you will pretty much stagnate around that level.

2)Applying too big a load

Our bodies are smart, but they also have limits. Remember learning your times tables at school? If your teacher had given you from 2 to 12 times tables to learn in one day, unless you were super genius, you probably would have had a brain explosion. So what did she do? First the 2 times table then 3, then 4,… and as you went on it got easier and easier. The same applies to training, start with slightly more than what you can currently handle and gradually progress – or suffer a dreaded body explosion! a.k.a “overtraining”

3)Not applying a load specific to the desired response

I deal with this in more detail in a later principle, but basically, you cannot expect to run long only training short, or fast only training slow.

4)Resting too much

Too much time to respond and your body will respond, but then revert back to “the norm” which you are telling it, which is, doing very little (oops!)

5)Resting too little

Remember the third key – TIME. Your body takes time to adapt, how long depends on your genetics and training history (“the norm” you created). Not allowing enough time for recovery (which is basically response time) is like a house being hit by an earthquake day in and day out, eventually you are going to have total irreparable breakdown – a.k.a overtraining!

Hope this helps you understand why recovery matters.

Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen

Professional running coach

Cape Town, South Africa