Often the most overlooked part of training for any endurance event, recovery is the part of the process where the magic happens. I know a lot of Trail Monkey runners are really putting in the miles currently and I know that a few have had a few strains/injuries here and there.
It’s about 2 months until the Double Top Ultra here in Jersey and I thought it a good time to write a little about recovery and why it is so important. It is so easy to just throw yourself into a goal and throw all energy at it, and I have been there myself but sooner or later (unless you are very lucky) the body starts to fight back if we don’t reward the work we are doing with adequate rest and fuel. This will manifest in injuries, strains, excessive tiredness or all three!
Whenever I have embarked on a training program I have started with a blank spreadsheet and mapped backwards from the event date and split the plan into 4 week blocks, with the last week of each block being an easier week to just take the foot off the gas a little each month. It has sometimes not worked out exactly as neat as this, as life often gets in the way however this is the general principle and it is a sound one to follow. It then enables you to head out the week after having consolidated the training you have done and have reasonably fresh legs. It’s also good mentally to just ease it back a little from time to time as otherwise the process becomes joyless quite quickly!!
One of the best quotes I ever heard in relation to recovery was when I was preparing to do my challenge in 2014 Round the Rock x 7 which was me running Round the Rock 7 times in 7 days. The quote was on a film I watched about a 5 day race across Wales called the Dragons Back and the guy who was in the running to take the victory, Rob Baker was talking about his recovery process, and he said something along the lines of “The focus as soon as I cross the line is a good recovery, I view this as a 24 hour race” I took this to mean that the recovery is as much a part of the race as the race itself, particularly when they were running 40 miles per day with 6000 metres of climbing per day! It was something that really resonated with me and I adopted it as my method for getting through my massive challenge. As soon as I crossed the finish line each day I jumped into a bin of ice water, had a protein recovery shake, got my recovery compression tight on asap, had a massive dinner and then went to bed as early as possible. For me it worked and most mornings of that week I woke up feeling much better than I should have to be honest!
So I think the meaning behind this post is for people to try and work recovery in some way into the busy training schedules and to also listen to the body when it is trying to tell you something. I know the urge to get the training in the bank is strong, but it is also important to get to the start line of your challenge rested and fit. Another quote here for you “ It’s better to arrive at the start line slightly under trained and over-rested than the other way around”
-Try to look at your training in these 4 week blocks and ensure that one of those weeks is slightly easier in order to give the body a chance to recuperate and then gout and kick ass in the other 3 weeks of the block.
-Ensure you warm up and stretch off after a training run – google the right stretches to do, but I personally put my luck in respect of lack of injuries down to this one factor.
-Ensure after a long run that you replace the burnt calories as soon as possible after, with good healthy calories rather than burgers and chips.
-Ensure that in periods of enhanced intensity that you are getting sufficient sleep to enable the body to repair and recover.
-Develop a good recovery process so that you reward your body after your exertions – recovery shakes, recovery tights, ice baths and post run stretches or foam rollering are a great place to start.