Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Half Marathon Training Week 4: When 'Recovery' Becomes 'Bludging'.

It Always Turns Out This Way
Okay, so this sort of describes my week.
Courtesy of stateyourbidnis on I Can Has Cheezburger

Yes, I've completed week 4 of the half marathon training program! (I completed it on time, it's just the posting that's been a bit late!)

Last week I discovered the difference between treadmill and trail. This week I discovered that a little bit of recovery is good, too much and it just becomes bludging.

The program is organised so that I take Monday, Friday and Saturday off. As it turns out, this is very different to taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off.

First of all, I want to stress the importance of proper recovery within a training program. However, while a lot of information is now out there trying to get athletes to actually relax, very little of it seems to be on 'how much recovery is too much?' Obviously they are dealing with people a lot more motivated than I am after a long day at work.

Recovery is an important factor in EVERY training program. However, two things I needed to remind myself (and so I'm also passing onto you) is that the length of recovery depends on the type of workout preceding it, and that 'recovery' doesn't mean sitting in front of the TV or drinking at the pub.

Scale of Recovery Times:

Basically, the harder you work, the more time your body needs to adapt. 'Harder' here refers to overloading your system. This can be through increased frequency, intensity, or duration of training.
If you are increasing any of these three, you need to factor in more recovery in scale with the increase.

How much more is a difficult question, because it is variable between individuals. Recovering from a hard session in 24-48 hours is good, but some people may take a few more days.

However, anything that builds up lactate or works your body longer than you are used to requires some recovery, starting at 24 hours and feeling on from there is a good place to begin. As you do more, you'll get to feel what works for you.

Having said that, unlike me last week, this doesn't mean just lying around doing nothing.

What Counts As Recovery?

First of all, there are a lot of steps you can be taking to improve and speed up your own recovery, including getting quality sleep, appropriate nutrition, massage, stretching, and heat/cold therapy. There is a lot of information around about how to uses these appropriately.

Recovery should start almost straight away, with a proper cool down and stretch which allows your body to start fixing itself up. Then, within 30mins of the end of a hard work out you should try to get some carbs and protein in to allow your body to start refuelling and rebuilding. That night ice and heat therapy maybe called for, though I personally can't bring myself to sit in an ice bath each night after working out. Then you need to get a decent amount of quality sleep. I need a lot more sleep than a lot of people, so work it out for yourself, but I found that for every solid hour of exercise I do, I generally need an extra 30mins of sleep to recover properly.

These are things you should be doing to reduce the time taken to recovery. However, even with all this, you will still need to go easy after hard sessions. But this doesn't mean doing nothing. Lighter easier sessions are still considered 'active recovery'. So, while I was lounging around doing nothing, I should have been out trying a bit of easy cross training, a gentle cycle or row. This would have got the blood flowing, and not let me get too stale.

The consensus among athletes appears to be one day completely off can be good. Two days off might be necessary on occasion, but three days completely off and they can see a noticeable decrease in their performance.

This Week's Training:

So, taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, I hit the treadmill on Thursday for what was supposed to be a 40min easy jog, but turned out to be 32min (with breaks), finishing with me limping because my knee started playing up.

Friday was supposed to be 1 hour pace with 25 mins easy, 3 mins at pace followed by 1 min easy jog x 5, and then 16 mins easy. Yeah... went out for work drinks and came back after the gym had shut. So that was just a fail.

Saturday I managed the 45mins easy, though didn't feel quite so easy for me, and did take a short walking break.

But Sunday I did my full 1:20min long run breaking only at water fountains. I jogged from my house, down to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, did two laps of the Tan (probably Melbourne's most famous jogging track) and then back to my house. This is particularly impressive as at school we had to do the Tan for PE, and I never made it around. So, big sense of achievement there.

Sadly, feel that Mum and Dad's scales weren't actually telling me the truth. They told me that last week I had dropped a whole 1kg (while not being very good) and was 74.6. This week they told me I was 75.7. Hmm... So, need to stick to the gym scales, and start being much better about what I'm eating (also, not doing the proper training for a week might have had an effect.)

Interested in trying to lose weight? Why not be my guinea pig for the 8 Hour Diet? You'll receive a free copy of the book, and you just have to try it for a minimum of 2 weeks and let me know how it goes! (I have one kind person already signed up, just want at least 1 more for better results.)

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