On our training schedule, Sundays are noted as ‘Run on Tired Legs’. On Saturdays we have our long runs (we’re now up to 12+ miles) and for the first month of training the last thing I wanted to do the next day is run again. So for the first few Sundays, rather than run, I counted my walking around the city as my ‘tired legs workout’. I mean, have you seen the hills in San Francisco? They’re a workout in themselves.
But these past two Sundays I decided to go out for a real run and I’ve made running from my place to the Golden Gate Bridge and back my recovery run. It’s a flat 6 mile run that never gets old as there’s always people watching and sailboats and the bridge to watch. And after running up and down hills the day before, it’s a welcome change of pace to just run flat. I can definitely say though that running on concrete and asphalt puts more shock and impact on the body, especially the knees and hips. Trail runs cushion a lot of that.
A couple of coaches and experienced runners I’ve talked to say the recovery run is one of the most important parts of the training schedule. It makes your legs work a bit harder before you rest them for the next two days and this process helps build up strength. It’s too early for me to tell that for myself but one observation I can share is that it definitely makes for a more tired Sunday. Both weeks I’ve come home and needed to take a nap.
A bit more from this article:
Additional research has shown that when athletes begin a workout with energy-depleted muscle fibers and lingering muscle damage from previous training, the brain alters the muscle recruitment patterns used to produce movement. Essentially, the brain tries to avoid using the worn-out muscle fibers and instead involves fresher muscle fibers that are less worn out precisely because they are less preferred under normal conditions.
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