I have found over the years that far too many runners do not allow themselves proper recovery time after races. I've sometimes wondered if it's become a forgotten aspect to the training,racing cycle. Proper recovery allows your body to rest,heal and recover from the race.Also,it gets you optimally ready to race again, ready to race in an energized state instead of a debilitated one.Most runners feel they can race as often as they desire.For example,the day after the race you may feel a little sore,two days after you may feel even sorer.However, things usually start to get better physically but there's something most runners don't realize,just because you feel better,it doesn't mean you are ready to race again.The reality is that our recovery from fatigue and muscle discomfort(pain for some) happens quickest.It takes longer to restore your body chemistry to its former normal levels.I've mentioned in a previous post about the significant damage that occurs to the body chemistry after someone races a marathon.
What follows are some things to remember in regards to post race recovery. Tom Osler,who I have referenced on this site in the past and is as knowledgeable about running as anyone wrote this: As a rule of thumb,for the well-trained runner it takes about one day for each mile of the race for complete recovery....The runner will require longer periods if he is not thoroughly trained....I believe those runners should double the above-mentioned recovery time before he attempts another all-out performance." The one day for each day raced should be familiar for most experienced runners,sometimes ignored is that less well trained runners require more time.So what kind of running should you do as you recover? Easy running,"maintenance running" as some call it,running for 30 to 45 minutes a day. You don't want to run too long, too hard or too fast.Remember, feeling good is not the go ahead to abandon your recovery schedule.
Here is something that should also be considered in the whole race recovery process.You've done the one mile rest for each mile raced,now I will describe part two of your recovery program which is called the rebuilding period. After you have raced,say a five miler, and have completed the necessary five day recovery, you can resume longer and harder runs with some speed,but, you don't race. Don't race until you've completed the five day rebuilding period. As Joe Henderson wrote: "You owe yourself all of this time to clear away the damage done by a race. If you keep tearing down faster than you repair,the mild and temporary pains of racing eventually turn into the bad kind that slow and stop you." Reading that makes me think of the old saying,"an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? I knew dozens upon dozens of runners in the 70's who paid no attention to proper recovery after races,even marathons. Guess what? The overwhelming majority of them no longer run. They no longer run because they are physically unable to. We sometimes forget that are bodies are not machines. They can take a tremendous amount of abuse for seemingly endless periods of time but there comes a point when your body will break down if you treat it without care and respect.Who wants that? Again,it takes a thoughtful, thinking athlete to make the right choices,not mistakes, as it relates to their running and health. Don't we all want to run forever?