Recovery time?

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Aug 2013
1:22pm, 8 Aug 2013
20 posts
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I'm unsure how long to rest after a run in order to let my leg muscles recover and to gain maximum benefit.

Long (for me) slow runs of 12-18k at 5:50/km leave my legs a bit tired next day. Not sore, but no doubt that they were worked hard. Do I need to rest at all? Or can I go out and do another long slow run next day?

A recent track session left me with serious DOMS and I rested for two days afterwards. I can ease the stiffnes completely by running again, but am I damaging already torn muscle fibers?

I'm 65, which probably makes recovery a bit slower, and all runs are on 'undulating' routes (70-100m climb). My 10K pb in training was at 5:28/km with 70m climb/descent.

Sorry to ramble on however, I think that many other novices are also unsure about recovery.

Thanks, Bill
Aug 2013
1:29pm, 8 Aug 2013
7,317 posts
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The schedule I'm following at the moment is thus:

Day 1: Rest
Day 2: Slow run
Day 3: Fast run
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Fast run
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Long run


This works for me.
Aug 2013
2:32pm, 8 Aug 2013
2,490 posts
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I usually have a rest day after a long run (currently 9-10 miles), and after a hard session - such as intervals or hills where I know I've worked hard. I do have weeks where I have back-back shorter runs and I often find a correctly paced recovery run (ie very slow) really helps with easing sore legs. Unless I'm following a training plan, when I tend to be more disciplined about making myself run 'come what may' I don't run on very tired legs.
Aug 2013
2:33pm, 8 Aug 2013
702 posts
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I think OB’s schedule is great, but as she implies, what works best depends on the individual.

As a youngster I could run fairly hard every day if I wanted. Now I am in my late sixties, more than 30 miles/week results in accumulating exhaustion, even if I run fairly slowly. I include cross training in my program to avoid the repeated trauma of impact at foot fall. I often do an elliptical session the day after an intense running session (intervals or tempo). The day after a long run, I either do an easy run or rest depending on how tired I am. I do not think that up to 45 minutes of easy running on the day after a long run adds to muscle damage. The increased blood flow might actually help muscle recovery. However the bigger question for the more elderly runner is avoiding cumulative exhaustion
Aug 2013
3:25pm, 8 Aug 2013
21 posts
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Encouraging replies! I wasn't sure if I am even causing muscle damage on a long slow run, but on reflection I must be doing so for the muscle to improve. I like the idea of blood flow helping recovery; I was worried about exercise preventing the muscle from recovering fully, rather than adding to the damage.

I'm also an 'elderly runner' and a recent convert to running (April 2012). A burst of enthusiasam and returning to the wonderful Picos Mountains led to 80km/week plus about 3k climb. This lasted all of three weeks before exhaustion set in. Now back in Shropshire and running mostly on tarmac I'm down to about 45km per week on merely undulating routes; I must get up the Long Mynd soon to address my mountain withdrawal symptoms! Right now I'm off out for a 45min recovery run!

My thanks to all who replied. Mr (Prof?) Canute Sir, your blog has, and continues to be, an inspiration to me!
Aug 2013
3:34pm, 8 Aug 2013
22 posts
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Looking back, I did mention muscle damage after the hard track session, an exercise I rarely do. My question was mainly about recovery from long slow runs and I confused matters by mentioning the track session, although it is good to know that DOMS do not make a gentle recovery rununwise.
Aug 2013
3:57pm, 8 Aug 2013
162 posts
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Funky Chicken
Hello Bill. My approach is much the same as what's been said already: rest on Monday, then nothing too hard on Tuesday. If I do anything a bit faster it's more likely to be on Thursday. In theory though, if you're running the same sort of distance at the same sort of pace each Sunday your body should get used to it more over time (meaning faster recovery, assuming you don't make up for it by extending the distance or keeping it the same but going slightly faster), though with deference to your age, anything Canute has to offer is definitely worth listening to.
Aug 2013
9:36am, 9 Aug 2013
703 posts
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The question of the capacity of elderly athletes to adapt to increasing training volume has intrigued me for some time. Similar to Bill, I can increase volume to around 90-100Km /week for a few weeks but become exhausted. In the past two years, I have been trying to build up weekly volume very gradually. After about 18 months of build up in 2011-2012 I could regularly sustain a volume of only around 45 Km running per week (plus 15-20 Km equivalent of elliptical training). This year, after a minor illness setback, I have managed to build to a level around 50 Km running per week (plus an additional 20Km equivalent of elliptical training) though I am not far from the point of over-training.

However, exceptional individuals such as Ed Whitlock have greater success. Whitlock jogs for hours each day. He does not measure pace. However, finds that he can gradually increase total weekly training time gradually over a period of many months. When he reaches the stage where he can do 3 hours a day, he is ready for a world class marathon time (and in many instances, a new age group world record). Clearly Whitlock has aged remarkably well – probably a combination of genes and lifestyle.

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