When I first got into marathon training 5-6 years ago I was all about pushing myself hard every. single. day. I thought the key to getting faster was all about going faster today than whatever I did yesterday.
I now stick to my recovery day paces after a hard run like glue and I am faster and stronger by training this way compared to my old methods. The reason why—> I can actually give a lot more during my speed work sessions and key workouts because I am actually allowing my body to recover on the other days. Before I could never hit the paces that I wanted for my speed workouts or tempo runs because I was too tired from the previous day and that resulted in 6 C (remember I used to be a teacher so I like to grade things) workouts each week vs now getting a few A+ workouts each week with plenty of recovery in between. A few A+ workouts are much more beneficial come race day than a whole lot of average workouts that left me feeling flat and overtrained.
You may feel like you are holding yourself back and going too slow on your easy/recovery days but I think it is crazy important to stick to those slower paces after a hard workout. And if you really killed it in your workout the previous day then those slower paces are still probably going to feel a bit challenging.
1. They keep us from going crazy. I love recovery runs because they allow me to still go out and sweat a bit and get some endorphins. They make it so that I can still get in a few miles in between hard runs without the risk of injury that comes along with running fast every day.
2. You are building up your running volume. I like to hit about 50 miles a week but there is NO way I would be able to do 50 miles of fast miles a week. So, I do some fast, some moderate and some easy. All of those miles combined = strengthening the muscles and building my aerobic fitness in order to carry me 26.2 miles come October 3rd.
3. It is the perfect time to focus on your form. You aren’t huffing and puffing from running fast and so it is the perfect opportunity to pay attention to your cadence, posture, arm swing etc. I tend to have chicken arms while I run (that is what my coach calls them) and so today I worked on bringing my elbows back behind me rather than out to the sides.
4. I don’t understand all of the scientific reasons (and lactic acid theories seem to always be changing) but I KNOW that once I get my body moving a bit the day after a hard workout, I always feel better. Just getting the blood flowing and being outside moving makes the soreness from the previous workout melt away.
5. Variety. I had a friend asked me the other day how running 6 days a week isn’t monotonous for me. My answer—> Because each run is so different! I would go crazy if every run was hard or a speed workout now. By throwing in recovery days after the hard days it switches things up and keeps it all exciting.
6. They most definitely are not POINTLESS miles. Recovery runs boost your fitness too! They challenge ‘you to run in a pre-fatigued state (i.e. a state of lingering fatigue from previous training).’
7. You are probably going to feel pretty darn tired the day after a speed workout. It is going to be a challenge to get yourself out the door because you are tired but if you do you are building up your mental strength. You are training your brain to tell your body to run even when you don’t feel like rainbows and sunshine.
8. You strengthen different muscle groups! (source)
9. They are stress-free. You can leave without any electronics and just go out and listen to your feet hitting the ground and your breathing. They allow you to relax a bit and I love listening to my favorite slow/peaceful songs. I stop for drinks, to take running selfies (okay, just me) or to take in the view.
10. You get the chance to run on softer surfaces. Whenever I am doing an easy run and there is a long stretch of grass next to the sidewalk—> I run on the grass. Easy runs make it possible to run on softer surfaces like dirt, the trails or grass because you are going slower and you don’t have to worry as much about twisting your ankle on the uneven surfaces like you do when you are running fast. Take advantage of the softer surfaces and your body will thank you as a result.
And just a few things to talk about:
Today Brooke and I were out and about and I recognized the IronCowboy (he just completed 50 full Ironman distances in 50 days in 50 states!!!!) and I started talking to him. He was so nice and he is an incredibly strong (mentally and physically) person!
My favorite little sidekick.
I get this excited about Nordstrom too:
My mom just sent this to me and I really like it:
I am pretty sure at this point of life Brooke goes through about 11 wardrobe changes a day.
Are you good about taking your recovery days easy? Is it hard for you to hold back?
How would you grade your run today?
What are your Thursday night plans?
What has changed about your running and training over the years?