Thursday, March 4, 2010

Recovery Weeks

On paper, this week is supposed to be a recovery week for me. On paper, this week is supposed to be low mileage and low stress. Yeah, but like most things, it hasn't worked out so well in practice. Work has been a mess, with many more patients with complicated issues than we have beds for in the hospital. Workouts have been lackluster (because I'm so exhausted coming home late from work every night) and my right ankle and knee have been giving me trouble ever since my speedy weekend 22 miler. I've also been subconsciously using my runs to blow off steam at work which translates to too high speeds for too many of my runs this week. In essence then, I'm failing at the single most important job I left myself to do this week...RELAX and RECOVER!

But then I ask myself, what is the purpose for this nebulous concept called recovery? In order to recover, must one get an a priori injury or does several high mileage weeks warrant the same level of treatment? To be honest, I've never sustained an injury before, so i'm somewhat clueless as to what that recovery process entails. On the other hand, I'm always running high mileage so I'm pretty familiar with the recovery week as it applies to marathon training. Still, I'm always surprised by the reluctance of the training mind to accept the low mileage week. It is as if we've gotten so comfortable with higher mileage that lower mileage automatically feels inadequate and uncomfortable. This is also the time when phantom pains and weird sensations crop up all over. So even though you're running low and slow, you still feel all kinds of weird and broken down. Ironic right? And the strangest part of this whole process is all the hard training weeks staring you in the face before you get to "recover" again. Are you kidding me? Is this insane? Everything is paradoxical. Everything is screwd up.

I'm still not sure about how I feel about the recovery week. This time last week I thought it was the best thing since man discovered running. This week I think it's a minor version of running hell. But the more I think, the more I realize...that in a lot of ways, this is exactly what running is all about!

But enough about me, how do YOU feel about recovery weeks? Do you welcome them with open arms or do you hide your eyes and pretend you didn't see?

13 comments:

marathonmaiden said...

i HATE recovery weeks (as you probably could tell from my posts haha) but as i've been putting on the mileage i'm slowly coming around and seeing that i should include them more than i do.

and i completely agree with the whole paradox thing. i always feel my worst during a recovery week but i guess its all good because the week after is usually great

天空天來 said...

nice to know you ~........................................

Brian Morrissey said...

i think recovery is a necessary 'evil.' the hardest part is the body adapts to training. the fifth day in a row almost easier than the first day after a rest day. (incidentally, tour de france cyclists dread the first day after the rest day because that's when they can get dead legs.) so why rest? running clearly causes quite a bit of trauma and microscopic muscle tears. it's how we get stronger. the key is the rest to let the rebuilding take place. for me, i need rest days (and weeks) more as i get older. the miles add up in the end. i don't even do high mileage -- i consider high mileage 70 miles and up -- but my body still needs downtime, even if i don't immediately realize it. i compare it to hydrating: you don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.

aron said...

i have typically done 12 week training schedules and if you look at the older pfitz version, it doesnt realy have a built in recovery week, but the new one does. obviously i have not been following his schedules exactly like i used to, BUT i have my recovery week coming up next week! after 4 weeks in the mid-50s, i definitely think i am going to be ready for lesser miles. we will see how that goes though :) i also scheduled it around a race, so its kind of like a "mini-taper" - i think that is what will get me through it :)

but i do think its important, physically and mentally to get those recovery weeks in. they definitely pay off later.

Marathon Maritza said...

First, I would like to clarify that I am not a high-mileage junkie. My max has been 55 and that was peak week on the Pfitz 12-week schedule.

I count down to recovery weeks with the enthusiasm of New Years Eve. I love them. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of training if I get a little cut-back time.

Hang in there!

DumpRunner Matt said...

teIn terms of the actual week, I do welcome having a little more time. It’s nice to have a lunch hour “off” every few weeks or give my wife a weekend day where she doesn’t have to watch the kids for 3 hours while I run.

The thing is that you never recover on the recovery week, you recover for the 3 weeks after. The lag is something built into the system. A recovery week is as important as the 2 min. rest you take between 800s and really not that different. To me, it is a giant interval.

Running and living said...

My plan does not have recovery weeks (I make my own plan based on FIRST template). The mileage does go up and down a bit, but only by 4 miles or so. Last week I ran 10 tempo and 22 long, this week 13 MP and 15 long, total mileage down to 48 from 52. Honestly, I don't think I need more of a recovery at this point. I never increase mileage abruptly and my body is used with 3 tough days and 2 easier days.

EZEthan said...

At this point of my running career I'm a big fan of recovery weeks... Of course I'm still basically a fledgeling runner so when I start building mileage my body always feels like its at the brink of breakdown and the recovery week brings a nice reprieve.

jokach said...

Its so hard to slow down and actually take time to recover ... I never seem to be able to do it the way I plan it. The funny thing is by the end of a training cycle, I always wish that I would have taken it seriously .. its a struggle...

Julie said...

Hi Lam,
I guess that I have really never had a recovery week..unless you count just sort of taking it easy after my two half marathons:) I am sorry that work has been stressful. We have been super busy too and I am so tired. Hopefully next week will be better:)

I love your power song of the week!! I just sat and watched that! Thanks! Oh, and I went and purchased the first season of Glee on DVD! I got it on sale at Target for $22.99:) Now I can watch Glee anytime I want!! Lam, I hope that you have a smashing weekend full of fun in NYC!!

Teamarcia said...

Because I do tend to be injury prone (especially during Boston training cycles) I've learned to welcome the recovery weeks. I may still run long and tempos a bit too fast but my FIRST speedwork always has me rolling my eyes heavenward wondering how I'm gonna get it done. So a little break (on mileage, not intensity of course) is welcome.

runner26 said...

recovery weeks are key (in my opinion). it's the best way to get the benefits of all the hard training. i pretty much enjoy rest days and recovery weeks b/c i don't feel guilty--like i'm skipping a run. instead i feel like i'm going to have an even better long run or hard workout because of the rest.

Katie said...

My plans generally don't include recovery weeks. I absolutely hate the taper weeks prior to running a big race though! I also detest the time off that seems to be required after running a marathon. I like to run. The two weeks preceding and the two weeks proceeding a marathon equates to a whole month of low mileage! Ick...

 
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