Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Recovery

The speed in which you recovery from a race depends on a number of factors like distance, course difficulty, race conditions, your conditioning and age, to name a few. One rule of thumb is you need one day of rest for each race mile. So after running the Woodstock Memorial Day 10k (6.2 miles), I should have rested at least 6.2 days before doing another hard workout. The race was on a Monday morning so by Sunday afternoon I should have been okay.
I decided to do a little experiment though to see if I could get away with a shorter recovery. On Tuesday I didn't run. On Wednesday I did an easy 5 miles, followed by a rest day on Thursday. On Friday I tried to do a hard 5 mile workout. Although I felt fairly good, my time was about 75 seconds slower than I expected. I then rested on Saturday and tried to run a medium paced 8 mile rail trail run on Sunday. But I was so tired that I only manged 7 miles at a slow pace. 
As I examined my logbook, it became apparent to me that the Friday hard workout was probably a mistake. I believe my Sunday workout would have been better if I had run easy on Friday. I plan to do some more experimenting with this rule of thumb. Perhaps I just had a bad day on Sunday, but I really doubt it.
I'm curious to know what other people do for race recoveries. Do you use some other rule of thumb? Thanks for sharing.



  1. I have no rule of thumb..because over a month after my marathon I'm still sluggish. But...I didn't give myself much of any recovery..because I'm an idiot :)

  2. Peak race gets about two weeks of no physical activity, but it's more to recover from a hard training cycle than the race itself. Downtime may vary based on the length of the training cycle and race. Non-peak races get a day or two of easy running, same as a hard workout. I've heard "rules" varying from 1 day per 3K raced to 1 day per 1 mile raced. But it comes down to everyone is different. There are the factors you mentioned, along with the length and intensity of the training cycle itself, diet (mainly, are you eating enough to allow your muscles to rebuild), the nature of your lifestyle outside of running (desk job vs. physical labor), etc.

  3. I just eat food, drink a beer (or more), and then go to sleep for an excessive amount of time for one night at some point within the week after.

    I'll take time off if I start to feel like a joint or a muscle needs it. Other than that, I have no idea what I'm doing, and I would say it shows, but I just keep doing better. I just kind of listen to whatever my body tells me, except for the whiney half (or sometimes 2/3rds) that would never go out there at all.

    I don't know, maybe I'm doing it wrong and I'm heading for a fall, or maybe I am just not pushing hard enough to justify that day per mile rule. Maybe the last 5 years count for time served as far as rest. I'm really not sure.

  4. I usually just try to listen to my body- if I feel extra sluggish and tired then I try to back off but if I feel like I can accomplish my goal for the day then I let myself. I've also noticed I feel different after every hard workout or race, I think because there are so many factors that go into how we feel, so I just try to be as in tune with what my body is trying to tell me as I can.

  5. Hey everyone,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Claire-Don't be so hard on yourself. There's no magic formula for this, but listening to you body seems like a good thing to do. Marathons do take a lot out of you though. And sleep or lack of it, can play a significant role in recovery. Just take it easy for a little while longer and I'm betting you'll be fine.

    Becki, I'm glad you weighed in on this topic because of the more technical perspective you bring to the table. And I couldn't agree with you more about a recovery being for not just the race itself, but all the hard workouts done leading up to it because it has cumulative effect on a runner.

    Brent, you crack me up. But seriously, improvements in speed follow some standard principals and depend on your goals. If you really want to see if you can improve at a more rapid pace, I would consider reading some running books and developing a plan for a particular race in the future. You want to include elements in your plan like some speedwork, longer runs and tempo stuff. Becki, who commented just before you recommended a Daniels book. Check out her blog for a review of several books. Becki, any other suggestions for Brent?

    RTM, I think your response is right on target. You are smart to listen to your body and I'm betting you avoided injury by doing this.



  6. I use the same rule of thumb that you had said. I usually rest for the number of days that I ran miles. So after my half marathon, I rested for 12-13 days. After my first half though, I was so sore, I actually rested for about 15 days or so.

  7. I don't follow any type of schedule - I go with how the body feels. Typically if I run a longer race (50 miler) I'm back on my feet and on the trails by Tuesday/Wednesday and then back to my normal mileage about a week after the race. I'm probably a little more unconventional than most - and I appreciate those that can stick to a schedule better than I can! For shorter races I'm usually back at it sooner - but again it just depends on how the body feels!

  8. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I got custom insoles made that are hard. I am slowly working them in. They hurt!

  9. The rest topic is interesting to me. I notice that my rest period depends on my performance. Sometimes I get more motivated if I turn in a bad time or bad run. But I also can get motivated to "keep going" if I am pleased with a race. Really, I have to agree with others, I listen to my body; although, I'm not always good at that. It is really hard for me to take breaks from running. I'm always worried about "losing" something. I also cherish my running time because it is all for me so I don't want to be away from it.


Your comments are appreciated!