Maximise your training by easing off?! Surely, in order to be a better runner - slowing down and resting for a week can't be helpful!?!
It can be quite a strange concept to grasp; especially so for people who have been running for a while, or for those who see faster times each week they run, chasing those Personal Best's (PB's). It's a similar opinion when runners are told to run easy - to slow the pace that they run at so it feels so much slower than they would normally run; it's as if it just doesn't sit right with people. I've had club runners who have turned down training plans because they included both these factors of easy running and recovery weeks. It's important to trust the process; it can be a long old journey, but the rewards will come.
WHY bother having recovery weeks?
The main reasons why a running coach will advise you to have recovery weeks is to predominantly avoid over-training. When you place your body under stress on a weekly basis, you become more at risk of injury, mental burnout and fatigue.
If you train each week at the same mileage or at the same intensity or if you continuously increase these factors without taking a break, you won't allow your body TIME to adapt to the stress of the training and your performance could plateau.
If you compare your running journey to climbing a mountain; the rest breaks you take on the way up allow you to revive and regain energy for the next part of the climb.
In running terms, recovery weeks allows you to absorb the training from your previous 'block' and allows you to prepare to train better for the next block.
WHAT does a recovery week look like?
Rest and recovery is based upon the individual needs of the runner; it depends on your goals, your athlete profile and the intensity of your training.
A recovery week after three weeks of hard work is not an unusual time-frame. You should reduce your mileage for every run, as well as reducing the number of times you head out during the week.
You may feel a bit lazy! Like you aren't pushing yourself, or achieving your goals by resting; but if you are in it for the long-term, then it is a vital part of your training plan.
Active recovery can be included in your recovery week - walking, cycling and some cross-training can all help you to feel like you are still working towards your goal. It just helps to give your muscles and joints a break from the repetitive pounding stress that running places on the body.
If you have ever had an injury from running, or if you have had to take time off because of injury; then both you and I (and everyone around you!) know that there is no fun what-so-ever in being an injured runner!
It's all about BALANCE.
If you are interested to know more, feel free to drop me a message.