Building Recovery into the Training Program

This chart of weekly running mileage above is from The Complete Book of Running; in which author James Fixx interviews exercise physiologist, Dr. David Costill.

"Runners traditionally add up their mileage a week at a time...Weekly rather than daily mileage has become the accepted measure because that way a runner can more easily compensate for a day-to-day fluctuations. Costill argues that this isn’t going far enough. He has figures to back up his argument, derived from an experimental subject he knows better than any other: himself. The energy for running comes from a sugarlike substance called glycogen. Glycogen is stored in muscle tissue, and during exercise the supply is gradually used up. When it is gone, no matter how much will power you have, work must stop. Checking his own glycogen levels in the days following three consecutive 10 mile runs, Costill found that it took as much as two weeks for the supply to return to normal. Plainly he could not possibly put in a full scale training week and have enough muscle glycogen to get him through an important race. “My glycogen is very slow in coming back,” he told me. “It’s an individual thing. There’s nothing I can do about it except eat lots of carbohydrates.”

Costill’s recommendation is that runners start keeping track of monthly rather than weekly mileage, thereby making it easier to permit themselves an occasional light week… Costill’s discovery that he has a sluggish glycogen system has led him to another conclusion: that no matter how scientifically valid the training principle is, it may be a little application to some runners. “Each of us is different,” he says. “If you want to find out what you were truly capable of, try different things, even things that seem extreme and totally unreasonable.”
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I'm giving this approach to weekly and monthly mileage a try for this marathon. For my recent marathons I've kept my volume during work days fairly consistent and try to increase my weekend long run volume over time. Using this graph from The Complete Book of Running as a guide, I completed 60K, 70K, and 35K of running volume during weeks 1-3 of my training. How will this approach work? At the start of my 35 K "recovery week", I felt rough and off kilter on my training runs. Yet, by the end of the week, I was more energetic and looking to push the pace. Will this happen again on my upcoming recovery weeks? We'll see. Additionally, Costill's comment, “Each of us is different. If you want to find out what you were truly capable of, try different things, even things that seem extreme and totally unreasonable.” - is very Experiment of One Coaching-like (I love it!)
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Thanks for reading.

If you're interested in more posts on recovery and running check out "Recovery from Training & Racing" found in the EOOC IN BOOK FORM page located in the sidebar of the homepage.



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