Recovery Runs – Weekly Recap – 11.22.20

A much needed recovery week comes to a close!  This recovery week fell at just the right time, with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend taking a lot more of my time and energy than I had planned.  I ran a full marathon for my long run last Saturday, and had planned to run 13-15 miles on Sunday, but I was just not up for it.  My feet were killing me and I was beyond exhausted.  So instead of running like I had planned, I did a whole lot of nothing.  And it felt absolutely amazing.

I only had to work Monday and Tuesday of this week, and that also felt absolutely amazing. On Tuesday, we picked up our new car, which was a very exciting early Christmas gift. Wednesday I started off my 5 day weekend with a nice easy, trail run at the nature preserve. This week, I wanted to prioritize recovery, which meant keeping my mileage fairly low while trying to keep my runs reasonable. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday I ran recovery runs, and I kept my workouts lower intensity than most weeks.

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My brother in law came and stayed with us Tuesday through Saturday, and my grandparents were here Thursday and Friday night. It was great having family in town, but being around other people honestly makes me really tired after a few hours. Thursday afternoon we made a quick trip to visit my cousin for lunch and to pick up my grandparents, and then Thursday evening we celebrated the holiday with……Whataburger. I’m honestly not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food, so a little goes a long way with me.

Some big storms started moving through our area Friday morning, which meant I broke up my run around my CrossFit workout. And later that evening we surprised one of my girlfriends with dinner and drinks at a local pizza place. She lives in Houston, and her boyfriend planned a trip to San Antonio, and had us meet up at the restaurant without telling her we were coming. It so great to see her in person, and we had such a fun time that we completely forgot to take any pictures together!

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When I woke up Saturday morning, the storms were still coming in strong, complete with thunder.  Initially I thought I would be getting in at least 13 miles, but as the morning continued, it became very clear that a run just wasn’t happening.  Besides the storms, I was just worn out and needed a mental health day.  My dad came by in the morning to chat for a little while, and then take my grandparents home, and after everyone had left, I promptly crawled back in to bed.  Because if you can’t take an extra rest day during ultramarathon recovery weeks, when can you?

Recovery Runs

Endurance runners love to run; makes sense, right?  Unfortunately, if runners aren’t careful about how they structure their weekly workouts, they run an increased risk of overuse injury.  One of the best ways to keep mileage high and injury low is to make sure to incorporate a good amount of recovery runs.  Here’s everything you need to know to (hopefully) convince you to slow it down every now and again.

What Are Recovery Runs?

It can seem counter-intuitive to consider any physical activity a “recovery” exercise. Especially if you are used to pushing pace and speed on every single run. But recovery runs are possible, if you have a solid understanding of what they are. Recovery runs are relatively short, easy paced runs that do not tax your bodies muscular system. Now the definition of “short” depends on your overall mileage, but they should generally be about 60%-80% of a typical week day run, and run at a pace that allows you keep a conversation and feel good afterwards. If you find yourself breathing hard, or feeling fatigued or sore afterward, you are not running at recovery effort.

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What’s interesting is that some days your recovery pace may be significantly slower or faster than others, depending on your fitness level and how stressful training has been on your body lately.  This means that you have to be really honest with yourself and how your body is feeling.  Keeping an eye on your heart rate can be helpful, but certainly doesn’t give you the full picture.  So pay attention to your energy levels, your breathing, and your form to make sure you are keeping things easy enough.

Why Do We Need Recovery Runs?

Recovery runs can serve so many different purposes in training.  Easy movement can help loosen up your muscles, and decrease the feeling of soreness.  Having less muscle soreness certainly helps to keep running form intact; possibly reducing the chance of developing muscle imbalances and injury.  They also allow runners to run more frequently and at higher volumes, because of the reduced intensity.  Your body can handle an impressive volume, as long as you increase gradually and ensure that 80% of your running is done at a recovery-based effort.  The additional volume helps increase endurance; allowing you to run further and longer.  Isn’t that what most of us are after

Related Post: Running Hacks Every Runner Should Know

When Should We Incorporate Them?

Short answer?  All of the time.  I mean, not all of the time, but realistically more is more when it comes to recovery runs.  When you map our your training plan, recognize that your long run and speed workout are the quality runs in your week.  And for the most part, everything else should really be done at an easy pace.  Are there some runners that can throw in an extra workout here and there?  Sure.  But if you’re running more than 3 days per week, you should make peace with the fact that most of these runs should be considered recovery runs.  More importantly, the day after a long run or workout should absolutely be a recovery based effort

How to Not Screw Them Up

There aren’t too many rules when it comes to recovery runs, but here’s a few things to keep in mind.  Keep your pace and effort low and slow, like a BBQ.  Let go of any qualms you may have about Strava or pacing.  In fact, if posting slower runs on Strava or other social media bothers you, then the solution is simple.  Don’t freaking post them.  Don’t speed up just to keep your ego happy.  Also, make sure you aren’t pushing the distance either, because even slow runs can turn into workouts if you go too far.

Related Post: Recovery Weeks

This Weeks Workouts

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Total Miles: 51
Total Workouts: 4
100k Training, Week 4
How the Runs Felt
This week started off and ended the same way, with me in bed! The holidays are really just beating me up this year! Haha. Despite feeling sleepy and grateful for the extra rest, my runs felt pretty great this week. My two workouts were challenging, but not overly draining. I had originally planned to run 13-15 miles on Sunday, but decided to move that run to Thursday morning when I realized it wasn’t happening Sunday. I knew I wouldn’t be working out in the CrossFit box on Thursday, so it made sense to move it.

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I technically didn’t have a long run this week, and while that probably would have drove me insane in the past, I know I’m physically strong enough to run my race.  At this point, training is just keeping the wheels on the wagon, and what this wagon needed was a low mileage week.  I’m hoping that with all of the extra rest and recovery, next week’s miles will feel like walk in the park.  I’ll be sure to report back.

How the WODs Felt
There was so much upper body stuff this week.  With push presses, wall balls, and thrusters all in the mix, my arms were pretty damn tired.  Thankfully, there were no strict gymnastics movements to make me feel even more weak.  In fact, most of the light weights and high reps this week speak more to my strengths than heavy olympic weights.  I do have to say that the reverse burpees gave me some super cute bruises along my spine, so that was fun!

What I’ve Been Listening To
Anatomy of Murder has been very entertaining throughout this past week.  I also loved hearing the “big announcement” that Nikki made on the most recent episode of the Run Hard, Mom Hard podcast.  I also started a new podcast; Do No Harm.  It’s an investigative podcast about a family who had their two children taken from their home after a doctor falsely reported child abuse concerns.  It’s absolutely heart-breaking, but a story that needs to be told.

What Went Well
My feet are feeling much better than they were late last week.  I had an appointment, and got a steroid shot, which is a temporary fix.  I know it’s not a permanent solution, but hopefully it will get me through the 100k race, and we can re-evaluate afterwards.

What Went Shitty
With all the changing weather, my allergies have been really acting up.  I definitely think they’ve contributed to my overall fatigue, and it has not been overly pleasant.

Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week, we will be back up to high mileage.  With a much nicer forecast, I’m looking forward to cranking things back up a little bit.

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