Structured recovery sessions for runners

Fitting rest into your running schedule

Recovery is as important a part of any run training program as the actual running is itself. It is during the recovery period that any improvements in fitness are realized. With this is mind, here are some key recovery strategies for you to consider …

If you complete your weekly long run on a Sunday, then you really should think seriously about not doing any running on Monday. This will allow you to recovery quicker, especially if you do not have a lot of running mileage behind you or are over 45.

A good alternative, if you do feel like doing some training on the day after a big run, is to think about employing cross-training methods such as cycling or swimming as good alternatives.

Your weekly structure can depend on the quality of each of your sessions. Please see the following suggested weekly structures. If you do a long run on a Sunday it would be advisable to have at least a day between this session and any speed session i.e. Sunday — long run, Wednesday — speed session.

It is advisable to include at least one day off from any form of training per week. Many club runners run a long run on a Sunday, the day after a club run or club race, and this is not ideal because it increases the risk of injury in the Sunday session (tired legs, poor running form, stressed bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles).

Good recovery structure

  • Speed session and long run separated
  • Two easy days before quality speed session
  • Day off after long session
  • Does not work for runners attending club runs on Saturdays

Monday — Off-road or cross-training
Tuesday — Short run
Wednesday — Speed
Thursday — Short run or rest
Friday — Med length run (hills)
Saturday — Short easy run
Sunday — Long run

Suggested weekly structure for club runners

  • Still make use of available time at the weekend 
  • Relatively fresh for speed session
  • Long session during the week may not be possible for all
  • Long session dropped during weeks leading to key events (placing last long run 10 days before event)

Monday — Short easy
Tuesday — Speed training
Wednesday — Short easy or rest
Thursday — Long run
Friday — Rest
Saturday — Club run
Sunday — Medium run (hills)

Improved diet to aid your running

What you eat and drink has an impact on your training and recovery. If you want to ensure you recover and have the energy for your training you should have a snack 40 minutes prior to running. Something like a banana or an energy bar and a glass of orange juice would be ideal. In the big scheme of training for an event, that could be all the difference between a PB and an average run.

If you are running for more then 60 minutes you will recover faster if you drink in training. If running for over two hours then you need to be eating during a run; bananas are a convenient option, as are a selection of isotonic drinks.

After training, it is wise to consume some food almost immediately. The body is especially good at replacing muscle energy store after exercise and this 'window of opportunity' decreases rapidly on completion of your run.

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