Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bob and Janene Recovery Days

I run most days. Unless I'm exceedingly tired or don't have the time (I'm an afternoon runner). I like running! I've always thought that rest days are overrated — have so since around 1984. Prior to then I'd always taken Friday off (we raced Saturdays) but when I switched to running seven days a week my running suddenly improved. My 5k race times went from 19 minutes down to low 18s, then high 17s. I thought that running every day had made me faster. Well, it sort of had. Really it was the consistently higher weekly volume — my aerobic ability had improved. By running on Fridays I'd added an extra 15k per week — 100k instead of 85. "Miles make champions" Arthur Lydiard had said, and while 60 miles a week was nowhere near Arthur's recommended 100, at the time it was suiting me quite well.

It's now 2013 and I'm a (slightly) older runner and (reluctantly) happy to take a rest day if I feel I need one. However I'm not quite sure that one day off does me any good! My running on the day that follows a rest day often feels creaky and rusty. So how about two consecutive days off? I'd read Janene's blog post where she reported having two days off followed by a day of easy jogging and strides. The next morning she raced 5k in 23:16, 67 seconds faster than what she'd managed 4 weeks earlier. Wow! In my training week of 11 to 17 February I took two days off and followed up with a weekend of 'good' training — 20k on the Saturday and 19k (including 1k intervals) on Sunday. That week I still ran 76 kilometres.

I think this method of training may work quite well. Days off (or very easy jogging/cross-training days) followed by 'hardish' days. These days would contain a decent number of kilometres (15 or more) — in that way, the weekly volume I need in order to be strong aerobically could be managed. I'm taking this idea from Bob's recent training. He's been running 4 days a week (3 days off) while still running around 80k per week. Yes, that's averaging 20k on his running days (which are all 'hard') — he runs interval sessions, hill repeats, tempo runs and long runs. He's also 65 years old and training to run a 3:04 marathon at Boston!

 Think outside the bubble to improve your running. Geoff and myself looking suitably stunned following Cookie's fun-run win this morning.


Blogger Raina said...

An extra day really does help with volume but I notice that sometimes two days off is nice for the body.

It's fascinating how differently some people maximize their workouts. I was reading about another masters lady who only ran once a week, long, but did cross fit for all the workouts. I am not about to try it, but it works for her. Recovery and repair get so much more important as we age- I hate to admit it, but I am thinking about this more now.

I also can't help but wonder if the race improvement in Janene is not more because she raced a 5k 4 weeks before a 5k and got that stimulus. (not sure if that is her regular pattern, or was a new thing).

Bob's training sounds a lot like my training 2 years ago, 4 day weeks, but i had one speed day and one long day. Have fun with your experiment!

7:20 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Yes, keep looking for the way through and experimenting, this the only way to go!

8:21 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

Love that "bubble" photo - it's really clever! Never underestimate the value of a rest day. If it frustrates you 'cross' train - pun intended!

11:58 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Rest days well used can work well. 2 or 3 sessions per week used very well can work well. Running every day can work well. Running 3 times every day can work well. Running 2 times a day can work well. I think the key is to work out why a method works, and try and pinpoint exactly what those essential ingredients are, and then we should get the performance cake we want. No doubt there are generally 3-5 different methods that will work, but we need the flexibility to be able to retain the essential ingredients as much as possible regardless of other demands like work demands, money, time, courses in our area, afternoon or morning running, extreme weather, goal races, social activities, other things...Keep thinking outside the bubble, and more than likely you will continue to hone in on the essential ingredients to maintain performance or improve performance. You've already done an extremely fantastic job of it for decades, but keep chasing down the best options each week, month, and year...

1:03 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

I talked about this topic with many trainers and for them the day off is as important as the workouts: opinions I know.
However the most important that I (never) learned is "listen to your body".

5:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bubble photo is fun!
I am just a little envious that you can consistently run 6 to 7 times a week!
I would love to run more but as a relatively newish runner (less than 2 years) & definitely middle aged my lower leg tendons start complaining if I run 6 days. I'm at the stage where I'm seeing how much I can run & how often without resulting in injury. I'm hoping by building up slowly I too can be a 'lucky runner' that's out running everyday.
What cross-training are your doing on your 'off day'?

2:19 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Raina, I'll let Janene answer that question. Needing more recovery as we age is a pain in the backside, but necessary.

Thanks Scott.

Strewth, I may have to get a dog - then I can be happy when I cross-train by walking it up the hills around here ;-)

Jonathon, that's a good point. All the different types of training (except over-training!) produce improvement. The difficult thing for each runner is to find the 'perfect' type of training to produce the most improvement.

Stefano, it took me about 25 years to learn how to listen to my body!

2:27 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Fiona, you're doing the right thing by being careful to gradually build up frequency and volume. I wish I'd been that sensible when I started running! I'm not doing cross-training yet! Just total rest days. I'm leaning towards 'kick-biking', hiking up steep hills with a heavy pack, mountain biking, and a session of running drills/short hill sprints.

2:34 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

Good luck with experimenting. Since you are focusing on shorter road races, the off days should give more snap in your legs IMHO

thanks for sharing Bob's training diary...

6:25 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

Admit it, you used the bubble photo to make yourself like thin!

My running definitely improved when I started doing 7-day weeks and I have no intentions of changing that any time soon. Rest days are well and good, but I'm pretty sure most runners use them as an excuse when in reality they are too lazy to go out for a run.

3:22 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Sling, no worries. Hope to see you at the Gold Coast.

Thomas, that's right! Standing on the outside of photos usually makes me look fat ;-) Your recent M40 PB of 17:51 for 5k is a good endorsement of 7-days per week running. Now that you mention it, Ryan Hall hasn't run that well since he started taking Sunday as a rest day.

1:54 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

I'm probably not a good example ET. I need rest days as I just can't tolerate too much training. It's been a hard learned lesson for me, but appropriate rest along with smart training does make all the difference. That good improvement in my 5K time was through allowing sufficient recovery from some targeted training. The key was listening and resting as I was dog tired. No more marathons for me, but just maybe some quicker 5Ks if I'm lucky :-). Do what works for you, but don't disregard rest days, they do have a big part to play for us masters runners :-). As for Thomas' comment. Dude, if I could run 7 days per week I would! Sadly all that leads to for me is severe training fatigue and muscle pain. We are all different and I don't think rest days mean you are lazy!

8:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly many different training schedules can work for many different people (eg compare Bob with Ed Whitlock), but for each individual there is a much narrower range of options that work. The tricky thing is working out what works for you, especially as you get older. Listening to the body is of only limited value. For many older runners, aching connective tissues, and feeling tired, are inevitable, and often persist after a rest day (or even two). They appear to be a poor guide to when it is time to take things easy. It is tempting to think that resting HR or HRV might provide the answer, but after devoting a lot of effort to testing these measures in recent years, I have decided that they are of only limited utility for me – by the time they provide a clear signal, the damage has already been done. At this stage, I think that subjective effort together with HR measured during a standardised test lasting 14 minutes and including 3 minutes in the upper aerobic zone is the best marker of when I need some more rest.

11:19 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

J, agree, but those rest days did help produce quite an improvement in your 5k time. With your training fatigue problem you could be an 'over-responder' to rest days. I'm sure when Thomas said 'most' he wasn't talking about you or Bob!

Canute, that's interesting. It would be good to have a simple test for fatigue/over-reaching BEFORE it happened. Really interested in the details of your test and looking forward to your blog post about it.

5:11 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

I like my days off. Probably as an excuse to say I'm too busy at work though.
Aimimg for 2:48 at Rotterdam Ewen. I'll see how I feel after Six Foot about that.

10:34 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Hi Ewen, Interesting post. I'm an advocate for cross training days and active recovery rather than "do nothing" days. Even if I feel sluggish/creaky running after a non-running day that feeling generally only lasts for the first 1-2km. And I agree with Janene re: Thomas' comment - ie, non-running days are not necessarily lazy. Besides, Thomas is only in the M40 age group hence I also say "just you wait til you're in the M50+ age group :)"

6:03 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Paul, it's a pain when work gets in the way of running. Don't kill yourself at 6' then - recovery will be key to running well at Rotterdam.

Thanks Liz. I was like that this arvo - only felt creaky for 2k chasing Susan and Andy (after a do nothing day yesterday). Yes, Thomas is a 'baby' Vet - should be jumping out of his skin at that age ;-)

10:17 pm  

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