Many runners I work with think recovery blocks are just for the professional/elite runners. I'd argue with that. The concept of taking a few weeks off after your "A" race of the year works well for elites for the same reasons that it will work well for the rest of us. And arguably us mere mortals have more to recover from as we are training alongside our jobs, family and home commitments; elites get to prioritise recovery far more throughout their training cycles!
Recovery blocks look different for each runner I work with, but here a few ideas on what to include and how to plan them.
- It's a good idea to plan a recovery block after your "A" goal race of the year, that's the one you've trained specifically to peak for.
- Taking 3-4 weeks of no running or very light training is a good start on what to do, or not do!
- Running is a very high impact sport and the biggest aspect of running training you are looking to recover from is that impact loading. So gentle swimming, cycling or other non-impact sports can be used in a recovery block to help keep the body moving
- If you can avoid other high impact sports like team sports or racket sports etc during the recovery block
- It can also be useful to prioritise other things to help recovery like stretching and mobility work, sports massage and foam rolling
- Good, nutrient rich foods, staying hydrated and staying off the alcohol will really help
- Plenty of sleep and rest (where possible) will also really help
Why plan this in? You've been training hard and challenging your body for your race, it deserves, and needs, time to recover from that. It will mean your body can fully repair itself from that training load. It will also put you in a far better place as you head into your next training block and able to adapt more quickly to that training load, leading to better results in the long term!