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Recovery After a Race

This past weekend was a long weekend to say the least.  I drove a lot, raced, drove some more, went to a bridal shower, went out dancing for a friend’s birthday, ran 11 miles, cooked, cleaned, you name, I did it.  All of this with a combined total of 10 hours of sleep over two days.  On Monday, my body started to let me know it needed a little down time.  I went to the gym for some cross training and plyometric exercises and when I got home, I was ready to collapse.  First, I was soooo hungry and second, I didn’t feel like doing anything.  I mean nothing. I did manage to work for a few hours and then decided to close my eyes for a few minutes.  Two hours later I woke up and thought it was the next day.  On top of that, I still went to bed around 9:45 and slept soundly until 5am. (I’m a person who can do great off 6 hours of sleep.) I finally started to feel normal again by Tuesday afternoon (although the incredibly hilly run that I did probably didn’t help), but the lethargic feeling left me with the question – how long does it take to recover from a race?  Now yes, I only raced 5 miles on Saturday but I gave it all I had.  Then on top of that, I ran 11 miles in extremely humid conditions and with very little sleep the next day.  I wasn’t feeling like my energized self, so do I need more time to recover?

I’m sure many of us may have heard the advice that we should rest one day per mile that we raced.  Or perhaps that we should do a reverse taper in the weeks following a marathon.

Gina Kolata:

“As it turns out, there’s not much rigorous research on recovery after strenuous exercise. There have been almost no long-term studies, and there’s little agreement on what to measure or how to measure it. This aspect of competition is rife with unsubstantiated dogma.”

According to this article, there is more than just mileage that goes into determining a recovery period. I did find this table from that includes serveral different variables in determining your recovery period including, nutrition, distance, effort, course, weather conditions, level of conditioning, age, etc.  Here is the article.   Based on that, my score was a 26 which means I need a little less than a week to fully recover.  I believe it too because not only did that race take a lot out of me physically, but my mind needs a little time to recover too.  I had scheduled hill repeats yesterday, but that wasn’t happening.  My mind and my body just weren’t in it and I wasn’t ready to put forth another hard effort.  Instead I just ran a hilly course and tried not to pay attention to my time.  Even that was hard.

It’s amazing how your body can let you know when it has had enough.  Recovery is important and I’m taking the rest of this week easy.  Heck, maybe I’ll even sleep in to 6:00 am.


Now I understand why the elites only race twice a year
Photo Courtesy of Masahiro Hayata, Wikimedai Commons


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