Recovery = the act or process of becoming healthy, a return to a normal state of health and mind and strength.
This is the definition of recovery and should be applied to running maybe more than any other sport or activity. We tend to see a lot of runners who eventually fall prey to the same issues and sadly might have been prevented if just maybe they had rested for a bit. For those of us who run its important to understand that recovery is simply the process in which we allow our body to rest and recover from those steady static state runs, interval training, or race training. However it is that you run, you need rest.
For most of us we tend to ignore those warning signs and red flags. You know the ones that have been going off for weeks if not months now and you have been pretending like they are your spouse’s annoying aunt hoping that if you don’t listen they’ll go away. Well guess what: they’re not going anywhere.
The recovery phase should have its rightful place among any training or recreational sports activity. It’s during these times that adaptations to training take place. Adaptations to the mileage increases and frequency and duration increases that you started last month. Even adaptations to training errors. These changes are not immediate and unfortunately cannot take place while we are running. That’s why rest is so important. Without adequate rest, our bodies start to break down due to the overload and stresses placed on them. When the body cannot meet or sustain that demand, injury or illness occurs.
There are a few important things that take place during the recovery phase; muscle tissue that has been broken down can repair itself, which means more strength when called upon next time. Connective tissue can toughen, hormones and enzymes are replenished and glycogen is restored. Only after this can the body be restored to its peak performance. Look, we all know that the check engine light in our car is telling us that a problem needs our attention, and that break down, however far away, is eminent; however, we still ignore it right? Your body is no different, keep ignoring it and it will fail and leave you on the sideline.
Recovery is also mental break
Training without a break can lead to burnout. Running should still be fun regardless of why you’re doing it. Running is a stress reliever and shouldn’t be another stress inducer in your life. So here are a few tips to keep you off the side line and out of therapy.
- SLEEP. We all have things to do and life gets in the way, but bad sleep habits kill recovery. Our bodies need 7-9 hours of sleep for ample recovery, so stop going to bed at 12 and getting up at 5 and slogging through that morning run.
- Time off. Recovery doesn’t mean time off, it simply means time away. Time away from what is aggravating your condition in the first place. Substituting in things like cycling, swimming, and strength training can allow you to stay active and conditioned.
- Strength training. Believe it or not adding mileage is not a substitute for strength. You need a strength training regimen or at some point you’ll end up in therapy and we’ll be going over this again.
- Nutrition. Make a log and keep track of everything you put in your mouth for the next 3 weeks. Chances are you’ll probably shock yourself. Putting the right fuel in our body before and after a run or work out may be the most important thing you do today.
- Shhhhh. Listen to your body. It does know what’s best for you and if you listen carefully it will tell you when and what you need.