Wrestling With Recovery

With all the time put into training for a goal race, a lot of attention is put into getting the details right: specific workouts, tapering, eating properly, getting enough rest, managing stress, race strategy and travel.

Missing one of those elements can derail months of running on race day.

And then there’s the big question once you cross the finish line: what’s next?

Managing recovery can provide all kinds of fits. And for all that’s been writing about recovery, most of it is garbage or written without a quality explanation. For instance, “conventional wisdom” calls for a day of rest for each mile raced.

But how many dedicated marathoners are going to take nearly four weeks off from running?

More recently, though, authors have begun doing a better job defining resting as recovery, with a return to easy running after several off days. Once running has resumed, those efforts should be short and at a relaxed pace.

Rest after a long distance race should be defined as active recovery with low-impact and easy mileage for 2 to 3 weeks. Looking for some good rationale for taking time to recover properly? Read this.

It’s easier said than done as resting counters the instinct to race.

After running 14 marathons in a four-year stretch, without taking any real breaks, recovery isn’t an area that offers me much comfort. Constantly racing or training for a race proved to be fun. Over time it also equaled overtraining, burnout and injury.

This time, I’m determined to be smarter, even though there’s a bunch of races on my to-do list.

But I still haven’t figured out a magic formula for recovery.

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This past weekend, I couldn’t resist running the Fargo Mini Marathon, two weeks after the St. George Marathon, as an experiment in advance of races I want to do next spring. St. George proved to be terrific in every aspect, but it left me battered and sore.

By mile 2 in Fargo, with 11 additional miles ahead, a sliver of doubt entered my mind. Could I remain focused to race hard until the end? A great course, picture-perfect weather and strong turnout energized me.

Now the really difficult part comes: figuring out recovery without losing motivation or fitness. If any experienced runners have suggestions, I’d welcome your suggestions.

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