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When not to run

March 2, 2010

Over the past few months as I’ve built up my training routine in anticipation of the marathon I’ve found myself sometimes running five days a week. Other times, I’ve run more than once a day. Recently I found myself running three times in 24 hours. There’s a fine line between knowing when to run and when not to run.

Recovery days are time built into a running schedule to reduce the risk of injury and give your aching muscles some time to heal. If you’re stacking sessions day after day, they should come after the most intensive runs. That’s the theory, anyway. In the past few weeks as my schedule has wrapped in more and more runs and as my work and social commitments have selfishly not diminished to compensate for the time invested, I’ve taken rest days as and when convenient.

Convenient and sensible are not always the greatest of bedfellows.

I also have to contend with the fact that my body has developed a tolerance to expending a certain amount of energy each day. A running day burns between 700 and 3000 calories, and I can get a bit twitchy if I’m not out doing something. Sure, my legs hurt. Of course I know I really should sit in and take it easy. But there’s always that niggling feeling that it wouldn’t hurt. Just a couple of miles, you know? I could probably take them easy. Or at least not too fast.

The 2009 Bath Half Marathon.
A big crowd, a fast course and a precursor to Paris. The Bath Half is less than a week away. Image via Wikipedia

This week, with the great – albeit knackering – success of my Sunday long run, and the impending Bath Half Marathon, I’m being sensible. (Again. Yes, that’s twice in as many weeks.) I want to have a hard session to increase my endurance (to try to help my inevitable fatigue around the 24-mile mark) this week. But I also want to taper off towards the end of the week to give my body time to build up glycogen stores for the race on Sunday.

Realistically, Tuesday’s club training session will be a recovery run. I’ve been walking like John Wayne after the exertion of the weekend, and it’s going to take slightly longer than a day off to unknot my legs from the punishment of 27 miles. That’s fine, though – Wednesday could be a hard session. But that means that Thursday’s session probably can’t be speedwork; it’s potentially too close to the weekend, and stacking two hard sessions on top of each other. So, it will probably be swapped out for a tempo run, or a recovery run.

So, Friday and Saturday will be rest days. Probably. Maybe a run on Friday lunchtime. But only a saunter. Nothing too hard. Probably.

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