For some people, running a half marathon can be a big challenge, especially if you aren’t used to it. After helping my clients with recovery before and after the Sheffield Half Marathon, I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate these different ideas for you guys at home.
Recovery is important for anyone regularly training physical exercise. Without recovery there is a much higher chance of injury. Recovery methods include rest days, cross train days, improving sleep, and structuring your training sessions correctly.
In this blog post we will focus on these recovery methods, plus we’ll give you some more tips on how to improve your running. You’ll get a run down of how to safely increase your weekly running mileage, and how pilates can benefit your running.
How Rest Days / Cross Training Can Help Physical Recovery
Really important point here!
Although our bodies are commonly referred to as machines, our bodies certainly can’t function at 100mph 24/7! Rest & sleep are crucially important for recovery, recuperation and performance enhancement but they are extremely underrated in training populations.
Why is this?
When training for events such as half marathons, we need to fit in a lot of training to get our bodies up to a certain fitness level to complete the event. Commonly, due to work and life constraints we aren’t able to start training as early or as frequently as we had previously planned to. This leads to having to fit in more training in a reduced amount of time… doing too much too soon without a slow progressive build up = recipe for disaster!
This recipe for disaster occurs because when we exercise, whether that be aerobic or strength exercises, we use our muscles to bring about movement. From this muscular movement our muscles become fatigued, which leads to them needing to repair themselves & become stronger to be able to cope with the increasing load being placed upon them. Sleep is one of the main ways our body repairs itself and as a result becomes bigger and stronger. No amount of foam rolling, stretching or heat therapy will ever replace good ol’ sleep!
Here are 10 tips to improve sleep for athlete recovery & performance:
If you’re new to running, after your first few weeks of training you’ll have likely noticed that your cardiovascular system (lungs & heart) have greatly improved in terms of endurance & rate of exertion. This is because our cardiovascular system adapts very quickly to exercise. However, our muscular system (muscles & tendons etc) adapt much slower to exercise.
So, what does this mean?
The key point from the above point is to not increase your mileage too much too soon. We need to slowly build up our mileage to allow our slower adapting muscular system to catch up with our cardiovascular system. As we’ve already talked about, doing too much too soon is a recipe for disaster for picking up injuries, which are all too common in runners! But, they can be avoided… increasing your weekly mileage by a maximum of 10% each week is a good benchmark to base your gradual progressive mileage increase off.
How much Rest is Good for Recovery from Physical Exercise?
I would recommend you avoid running 2 days in a row (give your muscles time to recover) whilst also varying your running intensity throughout the week. For example, let’s say your current weekly mileage is 15 miles:
Slow 2-mile run (recovery)
5 mile hills (build hill strength)
8-mile-long slow run (endurance)
As you progress through your training, your recovery run would stay at a similar distance & intensity but your other 2 runs would gradually increase in intensity & distance using the weekly 10% increase benchmark
What Should I Do on Rest Days?
Sorry to say this but your rest days don’t always mean complete rest! Yes, we do need to give our leg muscles a rest so that they can recover from the increasing mileage, but we are able to work our body safely whilst optimising recovery. A great cross training example is swimming. Swimming is a great form of exercise not only to improve muscle strength but it’s also a brilliant form of cardiovascular exercise.
If you’re having doubts about your current training programme please book in for a physiotherapy consultation so that we can tailor an individualised training and injury prevention programme for you. Better safe than sorry when it comes to injuries!
Can Pilates Benefit Running and Jogging?
Pilates is a mind-body exercise technique that emphasises the importance of beginning movement from a central core of stability. The overall aims of pilates are to develop the deep, postural ‘core’ muscles that support the spine throughout movement, while enhancing normal movement patterns and improving overall body alignment.
Pilates brings about a huge array of physical benefits for the body ranging from increased strength, posture, range of movement, flexibility & endurance (all of which are vital for running performance & injury prevention) as I’m sure you already know!
A common injury in runners, especially when increasing the mileage for half marathon training is an injury referred to as runner’s knee (I wonder if it has anything to do with running). This injury originates from a progressive build up of friction at the IT band. The IT band inserts into the outer knee due to repetitive movement as we run increasingly longer distances. Commonly, this injury arises from underlying weakness in our gluteal muscles which causes an alteration of load down the legs which causes pain on the outer knee.
This is a classic sports injury presentation which not only responds well to physiotherapy rehab but also to pilates! The stronger our muscles are, the more robust and durable they become which results in reduced likelihood of injury. My recommendation = start pilates!
Katie Bell Physio Pilates Classes
Here at Katie Bell Physiotherapy & Wellness, we have a huge number of different Pilates Classes each week, ensuring we are able to provide for all different types of abilities, situations and objectives.
Follow this link to book your complimentary pilates taster class.