Ready for my recovery week
Before last summer, I had never "trained" for a race. With the exception of high school, I had never ran more than 5 or 6 miles in any given day. So when I joined a training group last year and started upping my miles, I thought it was crazy to have a week every three or four weeks in which overall time running or mileage would decrease. I had never heard of such a thing. I thought running was all about pushing yourself all the time. But I quickly realized that easing back after three weeks or so of continuous building was extremely important.
This past winter when I trained for the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon, I realized even more how important it was to have a recovery week built in. With the cold mornings, it wasn't hard for me to ease back every so often. The same can be said the week or so before when you should taper by cutting back even more. Again, a year ago at this time, I thought that logging only a fraction of the miles I was used to running during the week of a race would hurt. Little did I realize how much it helps. Race day last year for the Virginia 10 Miler went so much better than I expected, as did my half marathon in March.
This all leads me to next week, my fourth official week of training for the Richmond Marathon. A year ago, I would've said, let's keep pushing it. But after three consecutive weeks of building my mileage, including most likely surpassing 30 this week, I can tell my body needs to cut back a bit. I don't feel overwhelmed or exhausted ... I just need fewer miles for a week. That's why I'm now thankful for recovery weeks and am so glad that every training schedule I've looked at or asked for includes them.
So, what does this mean? For me, it's not a matter of running fewer days, it's just cutting back my mileage on days I run. For example, a planned run of 4-5 miles will be 2-3. My long run goal, at least for this recovery week, will still be 11 miles - the same as this week.
For more on recovery weeks, click here. Coach Joe can explain the importance of it better than I can. Coach Dean also offers a good explanation of when it's a good time to take a break. Click here for that post.