As runners, we're always looking for ways to get better. We seek out the newest training plans and secret workouts that will make us faster. But you need to spend just as much time thinking about the way you recover from your training if you want to get the most out of your hard work.
The reason recovery is so important is shown in a basic stress-adaptation curve....
In this drawing, point A represents a stress (workout, race, etc.). Point B represents the increased level of fitness that results from that workout. In order to reach point B, however, you need to recover properly. If you stress the body again without fully recovering, your curve will look more like this:
Despite the crude drawings, I hope the point is clear -- recovering fully from your workout is a necessary part of getting better.
Obviously one of simplest ways to recover from a race or a workout is to run easy in the days following it. A common weekly structure is Tuesday/Friday workouts with a Sunday long run. That allows easy running or rest days on four out of the seven days. I use this schedule often with my athletes, making sure that Tuesday is the harder of the two workout days. Your own schedule will be based on a number of factors including age, distance that you're training for, weekly mileage, etc.
In addition to scheduling easy days, though, there are steps that you can take directly after a workout or race to help jump-start the recovery process.
Following the protocol provided below will help you recover faster and more efficiently from your workouts, and will help you get the most out of your training:
If you have any suggestions of post-workout routines that you like to use, please post them in the comments section below!