Most runners don’t over-train for a half marathon or a marathon so much as they under-recover, meaning they aren’t recovering adequately from the training they are doing, or trying to do. Some fatigue and some soreness are normal parts of the training process.
When you introduce new elements such as more intensity or higher volume, your body will break down in reaction to the new stresses, particularly on the muscular level. Temporary soreness and slight residual fatigue are normal under these circumstances, but they will usually subside after some rest combined with reduced volume and intensity. The result? Your body gets stronger, and your performance ultimately improves.
When soreness lingers longer than a few days, however, and your performance starts to stagnate or decline, these may be signs that you aren’t recovering properly and need to rethink your recovery strategy, training goals, or both.
Warning Signs of Under-recovery
- Low energy levels.
Training should leave you fatigued, but if you’re so tired that normal, everyday activities feel like a massive undertaking, you’re likely a little overcooked.
- No appetite.
You just don’t feel like eating, even after a monster run or a massive week of training.
- Irritability and crankiness.
You’re constantly grumpy.
- Disrupted sleep patterns.
You’re not sleeping well.
- Consistently wearisome workouts.
You feel as if you’re dragging yourself through every workout.
How to Recover from Running Workouts
- Relax as much as possible between workouts.
As Tour de France riders are famous for saying, “Don’t stand when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down.”
- Eat 30–60 minutes after a workout, and don’t skip meals.
Your body (and mind) need the nourishment to recover.
- Take sleep seriously.
It’s no coincidence that the best runners in the world are also some of the best sleepers in the world.
- Nail your recovery runs.
Just as you’re diligent about hitting your key workouts, be diligent about your recovery runs. As a rule, start running easy and then slow down.