Sunday, November 3

Houston Marathon: Week 3

Week 3 Primary Focus:           Strength & Endurance, Recovery
Longest Run To-Date:             6.9mi

Although this phase of my training is still focused on building strength and endurance, this week was a little different in that the 'sub-focus' was on recovery. Most of this was planned around the fact that I was out of town and unable to train. It actually worked out nicely though, as I was beginning to feel the compounded effects of the work I had put in the past few weeks. Or plainly put: I was starting to feel tired.

Rest & Recovery

Rest and recovery in regards to endurance sports is without a doubt deserving of its own post. But for the intent of this Houston Marathon series, I'm going to remain at a higher level. 

This topic is one of my absolute favorites. Probably because it's a widely misunderstood key component of training that often goes ignored.* I see it first hand with fellow triathletes and runners in my own community. Folks who don't give recovery the same attention to detail they give their workouts isn't without peril. They either injure themselves, or get slower -- not faster. And as a believer in the Paleo mentality: chronic cardio is already an unhealthy activity, so to not mitigate the effects by resting isn't doing the body a whole lot of good.

*It is important to note that some argue there's a distinction between rest, and recovery. I'd agree, there is a difference. But for the purpose of this post I'm consolidating the two concepts into one.

Running injuries are abundant, in part, due to overtraining and not enough recovery time. As one article from the Wall Street Journal so eloquently put it: "In marathon running, defeat is broadly defined as failure to reach the finish line. But more often it is a failure to reach the start.

My first coach, Coach David, used to always say: "I'd rather you show up to the starting line 50% undertrained than 1% overtrained." Very funny, I thought. No chance you're going to let this competitive, Type A personality not train his butt off. It wasn't until I got injured that I realized the message he was trying to convey: you can only train as much as your body can recover from. In other words, your body has a threshold to sustain and undergo stress. To oscillate around that threshold is okay, if done correctly. It's part of the coach's job to constantly toe that line: to know when it's alright to push someone harder, and conversely, when it's time to back off. This consistent push & back-off, workout & recover can actually move that aforementioned threshold, making one stronger and faster.


In the last post I mentioned that working out actually makes you weaker. It's the rest/recovery which allows your muscles to repair themselves that make you stronger. The technical term for this is called "supercompensation." Sounds fancy, but is pretty simple. At its most basic form, here's how it works.

When you workout, you're breaking down muscle fibers and becoming weaker/slower (the "training" section in the graph below). As you recover, your body compensates for the breakdown in muscle fibers by rebuilding them back to your initial baseline level. Over an extended period of training and recovery, your body not only compensates, but "supercompensates." That is to say your body anticipates the workload that's coming and overcompensates by making you stronger/faster.


I won't go into detail here, but I wanted to at least mention some recovery tactics I utilize during training.
  • Active Recovery: this involves exercise at a very low intensity to loosen up the legs. It also requires minimal impact on the joints (swimming, cycling, yoga, etc.).
  • Foam Rolling: read more here.
  • Stretching: some good videos at TriDaily here
  • Massage: I'm a big believer in massage therapy during training if it's in your budget.
  • Sleep: sleep is critical for optimal recovery; your body produces hormones while you sleep that help facilitate the repair of muscle tissue (thus making you stronger/faster).
  • Nutrition: eating a diet we outline on our blog reduces inflammation and expedites recovery. Browse the "Better Nutrition" tab or more specifically, read this post.
Back to the Houston Marathon home page.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...