It can be hard for us runners to accept, but sometimes rest is a lot more beneficial to our performance than training. We all, myself included, have this belief that unless we are training as hard as we can, we don’t feel as though we are progressing or improving. However, this isn’t completely true. Our body needs to recover in order to be able to adapt and build, and consequently become stronger. Therefore, rest is essential and very productive.
Having just finished my end of season recovery break, it seemed only fitting to do a post about it. Rest and recovery are hard for any runner, and I can completely vouch for that. I find myself with energy I didn’t even know I had and I don’t know what to do with it. Energy that I don’t seem to have in the middle of a tough training block, but I only wish I did! I find myself annoying the rest of my family without even trying! (Although I usually do that anyway, just to a lesser degree!)
Following British Champs, I could’ve quite easily listened to my over bearing mindset and continued with full training, however, I did what the coach ordered and had some complete rest before reintroducing easy exercise. I didn't realise how important this time of recovery was until I'd had it. Without it, I would’ve carried on feeling tired and lethargic, and not have gained anything from the sessions I would’ve done. So instead, I took the much needed end of season break and reset my mind and body before getting back to training. I am now slowly starting to build it all back up again and I feel more refreshed and energised than I thought I would!
I also feel it is important to remind myself that rest and recovery is not always set in stone. Whilst I do always have consistent and frequent rest days to avoid hitting a point of absolute exhaustion and tiredness, I have learnt to accept that at times, I may need to take an unplanned rest day. Who knows when this may be, but it is all part of the important concept of listening to your body. Rest days can’t always be planned, as we can’t always predict when we will need them, but if we truly listen to our own bodies we can usually tell.
In order to avoid hitting this point of unproductive training, I am always conscious of using alternative methods of training. For example, aqua jogging is a great way to actively recover my legs, whilst still getting some training benefit from it. Whilst I am still working my body, I am not putting my legs under the same stressful impact as running. This way my body is able to recover between runs and avoid the destructive spiral of not enough recovery. Following some complete rest, I allowed myself to slowly start doing some easy swimming. To make sure it was easy and that I made the most of my time with my family, I went for some swims with my mum in the sea. Lovely, but cold!
Last, but definitely the opposite of least, is making sure you eat lots of good food. When recovering, I make sure I enjoy eating all the food I want! The best part of making sure I recover well, is fuelling the engine with lots of nutritous and tatsy food. This is exactly what recovery is for. It can be very easy to eat less when you aren’t training fully because you don’t feel as hungry. However, we need to eat lots of good food to give our body's the fuel they need to repair the damage of summer racing. Holidays are always filled with lots of food, and I have definitely enjoyed eating plenty of fresh, delicious food with my family.
So, have you allowed yourself an end of season recovery period and what have you spent it doing?
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!