Recovery Runs

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  SwampTiger 13 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #2460

    SwampTiger
    Member

    Our fitness center at work has several personal trainers. Most of them are young women fresh out of school, but there is one guy who really seems to know what he is doing and works people pretty hard. I go to his core conditioning class twice a week. Personal training is only $12 for 30 minutes, so I asked how he could help me in one session a week. My main goal would be to improve flexibility. I spend about 10 minutes after every run stretching, but I think that is just maintenance and doesn’t improve flexibility. I asked what he could do besides stretching to help in other areas. We had a pretty good physiology discussion while I should have been getting back to work.

    He believes the most important factor for nearly any sport is lactate threshold so that’s how he trains people. Moving quickly from one exercise to the next, pushing each set to near failure, some short cardio intervals between some of the sets. Since I’m training for endurance, he would do high rep, low weight sets. We also talked about when the workout should fit in with the rest of the training. I pretty much agreed with him until we started talking about recovery days. He thought I probably run too often. He agreed it is good to get blood flowing on recovery days, but thinks it can be better accomplished with crosstraining. Part of recovery is repairing damage and running is one of the most damaging activities. He said every workout should accomplish something and asked what running on a recovery day accomplished. I said that running easy (I did stress easy) on recovery days increases total volume and total volume is important for increasing mitochondria, increasing capillary density and improving running economy. He didn’t address these, but he wasn’t buying it either. I suspect he doesn’t understand how easy an easy run is. But I bet he also thinks most of those same improvements can be made with an easy workout on the bike or elliptical, without the muscle damage from running.

    One of the reasons I like this forum, is that there is good knowledge here to go with the encouragement, without all the “I know you can do it, just believe in yourself” that is on some of the other running forums. So here is a discussion topic, with some of my thoughts to get started:

    1. How does total volume contribute to marathon performance?

    – increased mitochondria?

    – increased capillary density?

    – improved running economy?

    – improved ability to utilize fat? ( I thought of this one later)

    – others?

    2. How important is total volume versus long runs and medium long runs? (Does a five mile recovery run really contribute to the above factors?)

    3. Can the above be accomplished just as well with a 40 minute session on the bike or elliptical instead of a recovery run?

  • #18474

    rehammes
    Member

    Fantastic questions. First of all, I agree with your assessment of this forum. One other thing you won’t find here is negativity. When you say volume, I assume you mean in terms of training. However, you will also be increasing your total volume of blood, as well trained endurance runners generally carry a few pints more than your average pedestrians. This helps immensly in terms of carrying oxygen to muscles, removing waste and cooling your system. I do, howeverm believe your total volume can be maintained or even improved with a day of cross training. After a hard week of running, your system loses a lot of iron through sweat, urine and even through the pounding of your feet on the asphalt. It might be important for physical and mental recovery to spend an excercise session doing something other than running. You will benefit yourself by stimulating muscle groups that don’t get the attention when your main activity is running. I would listen to your trainer. I think you will be able to push your running workouts a little farther if you allow yourself a day of rest.

  • #18475

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    The first thing that should be asked is whether you are training for running performance or general fitness. Personal trainers are taught how to train people for general fitness. Few have any knowledge of training for optimal performance in any specific sport.

    SwampTiger wrote:
    1. How does total volume contribute to marathon performance?

    – increased mitochondria?

    – increased capillary density?

    – improved running economy?

    – improved ability to utilize fat? ( I thought of this one later)

    – others?

    Simple answer: Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    The bottom line is training volume trains your cardiovascular system and your muscles to handle high levels of aerobic work. I can’t get into the whole story as has already been stated elsewhere, so I’ll offer Hadd’s words as a pretty good explanation of what aerobic training and overall training volume can do for a runner.

    Really, if you want to get right down to it, ask your personal trainer one simple question. For every runner you can name who has achieved international success on high volumes of aerobic training done at the right time, have him name one runner who achieved an equal level of success on his training methods. To make it easier for him, you could offer 10 runners who achieved that level of success on high volume training for every 1 he offers who follow his methods. I’m sure he’ll still exhaust his examples long before you exhaust yours. Real world results tell you what works in the real world.

  • #18476

    SwampTiger
    Member

    Ryan…This guy knows quite a bit about training for performance, not just fitness. He wasn’t agianst high volume, just that you need a break from running and a recovery workout can be in the form of crosstraining. But I didn’t post to get ammunition to argue with him. I just thought it was an interesting topic and wanted to get a discussion going here, on this forum. I thought of the elite training method argument, but I wasn’t interested in arguing with him.

    You answered question 1, that high volume supports those improvements. But you didn’t answer questions 2 and 3. What is the value of a five mile recovery run, and can you get the same benifet with 40 minutes on the bike or elliptical?

  • #18477

    GTF
    Member
    SwampTiger wrote:
    Ryan…This guy knows quite a bit about training for performance, not just fitness.

    It does not show in what has been posted thus far, and gives the definite impression of being in-line with the performance focus and expertise of almost any other personal trainer.

    He wasn’t agianst high volume, just that you need a break from running and a recovery workout can be in the form of crosstraining.

    Rest and recovery have long been staples of optimal training in distance running, no successful training plan would neglect or overlook it.

    But you didn’t answer questions 2 and 3.

    Ryan did answer question 2:

    The bottom line is training volume trains your cardiovascular system and your muscles to handle high levels of aerobic work. I can’t get into the whole story as has already been stated elsewhere, so I’ll offer Hadd’s words as a pretty good explanation of what aerobic training and overall training volume can do for a runner.

    The above should also answer question 3, however . . .

    What is the value of a five mile recovery run, and can you get the same benifet with 40 minutes on the bike or elliptical?

    . . . to put it simply: no. To expland slightly, it is overall volume that supports the longer efforts. Run too much of one’s weekly mileage in a single run and the recovery time needed will cut into other vital training aspects. This is the rationale behind the Hansons’ use of 16 mile (max) long runs in their 50 miles/week (max) marathon training schedule. Also, recovery runs should never come even close to “pounding” and the performance benefits of stimulating muscle groups via cross-training which are ordinarily neglected in running would seem to be inconsequential, at best. Please feel free to post questions that any of the above might raise.

  • #18478

    r-at-work
    Member

    great discussion… real results in the real world… exactly…

    one thing that kinds bugs me is the natural assumption that what works for those at the top of runnings “optimal performance” ladder is what is best for all the rest of us… not that I’m newly off the couch, but I do have issues (older, busy life)… but before I get anyone too upset, I DO think that more mileage is a good thing, but I also think that the old balance has to be considered… it’s too easy to say “more miles”… and we’ve touched on this before, you have to find your ultimate maximum…

    two years agao I did lots of cross training on my recovery days since the year before that I had too much time off with injuries… whenever I wasn’t sure if I should run or take a day off because I was sore or tired or unmotivated, I’d cross train (water jog, elliptical, bike) and I think that was one of the things that helped me slide into last year with no major problems and boost my mileage (and PR at all distances)…

    as an aside… my coaches have just emailed me my May running schedule with the caveat that as I am building up my miles IF I want more volume THIS MONTH I should cross train… and that more volume will be added next month… they are being cautious because in their words “can’t build up if you hurt yourself”… next month I hope to get beyond the meager miles per week I’ve always run and explore higher volume running (for me)… so I’m very interested in this subject…

    -Rita

  • #18479

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    To expand a bit, there is a well used quote that goes along the line of this: to be a better runner, you have to run. Cross-training has its place in some training plans but 30 minutes of riding bike is not going to be as beneficial as 30 minutes of running. There is an overriding principle in sports physiology known as specificity of exercise, I’d be suprised if your personal trainer has not heard of this principle. It simply states just what that quote states. The best way to become a better runner is to run, the best way to become a better cyclist is to get on the bike, the best way to become a better swimmer is to swim.

    Of course, recovery needs to be accounted for in a training plan. It is an important aspect of training. The mistake many people make, though, is that they think absolute rest from a specific activity is required for recovery. If you are in reasonably good running shape, there’s no reason that you can’t recover while doing an easy run.

    As for directly addressing question 2, it’s basically as GTF stated. Total training volume is what supports the rest of your training regimen. Sure, people like to focus on long runs and speed workouts but total training volume is crucial because it’s the daily building of your capillaries that yields the greatest improvements. Also, it seems like common sense to me that, if you run half of your weekly miles in one shot, it’s going to take a lot of time to recover from that. However, if you build your body’s strength up to the point that it can routinely handle 8-10 miles, a 20 miler is suddenly a lot easier and a race itself is also much less stressful on your body.

    To directly address question 3, see my comments about specificity of exercise.

    I have to agree with GTF that I’m not seeing a whole lot stated in this thread that suggests your personal trainer does know very much about training for optimal running performance. If he does not believe in specificity of exercise, this speaks volumes, as it is the most widely accepted training principle out there regardless of sport. Everyone from running coaches to cycling coaches to football and baseball coaches understands the value of this principle and applies it to their sport of choice in appropriate ways.

  • #18480

    SwampTiger
    Member

    OK…I didn’t mean for this to include a discussion about the trainer’s knowledge. I just used the discussion with him as a starting point for a conversation about an interesting topic here. He’s not my trainer, and as I said at the beginning, I disagreed with him on this recovery day point.

    Last night I pulled out my copy of Advanced Marathoning. Pfitzinger addresses this topic, and references several studies about the value of crosstraining. I don’t have it in front of me so I’m going from memory here. In one study of moderately trained athletes, half added running (run+run) and half added crosstraining (run+cross). I don’t remember if he said what the crosstraining was. In this study the run+cross showed the same improvements as the run+run.

    In another study of highly trained athletes, again half added run (run+run) and half added swimming (run+swim). In this study, the run+swim showed improvement but not as much as the run+run. He cited a third study, but I can’t remember the results now. He said there were no similar studies done on elite athletes.

    Pfitzinger’s conclusions were that crosstraining that works the large muscles of the legs could be helpful for moderately trained runners as a way to get the benefits of increasing volume while reducing the potential for injury. Crosstraining is not as helpful as additional running for highly trained runners and probably of no benefit for elite runners. He did not mention, however, what type of workouts were included in the studies. Were all of the crosstraining workouts recovery, or were any hard workouts included?

    Seems to me that the bottom line is adding more running is the best way to improve performance. But there may be some situations when adding crosstraining can be a safer way to get some of the same benefits. Rita gave some real life examples of when crosstraining may be appropriate. Considerations may be age, injury history, running history (cumulative miles) and probably others.

  • #18481

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    SwampTiger wrote:
    Seems to me that the bottom line is adding more running is the best way to improve performance. But there may be some situations when adding crosstraining can be a safer way to get some of the same benefits. Rita gave some real life examples of when crosstraining may be appropriate. Considerations may be age, injury history, running history (cumulative miles) and probably others.

    I would agree with a slightly reworded summary. The bottom line is adding more running is the best way to improve performance. However, there may be some situations when adding cross-training can be an alternative, possibly but not always safer, way to get some benefits but those benefits will be diminished.

  • #18482

    Zeke
    Member

    …I said that running easy (I did stress easy) on recovery days increases total volume and total volume is important for increasing mitochondria, increasing capillary density and improving running economy. He didn’t address these, but he wasn’t buying it either.

    Him dodging your response should be a sign.

    The first thing that should be asked is whether you are training for running performance or general fitness. Personal trainers are taught how to train people for general fitness. Few have any knowledge of training for optimal performance in any specific sport.

    I agree with this. And I’ll add that it depends on where you’re at as a runner. Do you think all the elites just woke up one day and were elite? I’m sure they didn’t start out running 2-a-days every day and not ever take a day off.

    If you’re a new runner or recreational runner, cross training will probably help you. If you are a competitive runner who’s been at it awhile, throwing in cross training probably isn’t going to get it done. Maybe you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you cross-trained for the short-term. However, over the course of a lifetime, I’d think it’d make a difference.

    Real world results tell you what works in the real world.

    I was thinking the same thing as Ryan. Have this trainer provide you a list of elite or national caliber or even the top local runners that cross-train on a regular basis. My guess is that it’d be a very short list.

    …one thing that kinds bugs me is the natural assumption that what works for those at the top of runnings “optimal performance” ladder is what is best for all the rest of us…

    Again, you have to work up to this. Once you’re strong enough isn’t it natural to assume that things like 2-a-days, more miles, fewer days off, etc. will help your running?

    …it’s too easy to say “more miles”… and we’ve touched on this before, you have to find your ultimate maximum…

    I’m not sure what an “ultimate maximum” is. To me that sounds like you are putting limits on yourself. Granted you want increase mileage in a smart way, but just because you’re running X mpw, that doesn’t mean it’s your “ultimate maximum.” A year or two from now that could be a recovery week for you.

    How does total volume contribute to marathon performance?

    I think total volume is important for all racing, not just the marathon. For example, last year I had a pretty good base. Then in the summer I started doing speed workouts and racing a lot. I finished the year with a 37:35 10K. This year I’ve bumped my mileage about 10-15 mpw and I haven’t run any speed workouts (although lots of hills). I’m running a 10K tomorrow and I expect to be very close to the same time, if not faster. One of the ways I bumped my mileage was by not taking a day off per week. Now I’m down to less than a day off per month.

  • #18483

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    Zeke wrote:
    I agree with this. And I’ll add that it depends on where you’re at as a runner. Do you think all the elites just woke up one day and were elite? I’m sure they didn’t start out running 2-a-days every day and not ever take a day off.

    I’ll agree and disagree. Of course, they didn’t just wake up one day and were elite. This is a point I bring up many times when people seem to think there is an “elite gene”. They got where they are by hard work. They didn’t just jump right into 2 a days and 20 miles or more every day, just as I as someone who is far from elite but is striving to reach my very best didn’t and just as I have never seen anybody suggest should be done. That said, I don’t think you’re going to find a whole lot of equipment for cross-training in the Rift Valley or other areas that produce a lot of elites. They got there by gradually increasing their running, not by gradually phasing out cross-training in favor of running. If there is any cross-training involved, it’s a lot of walking.

    Once again, a misconception a lot of people seem to carry about my statements is that they think I’m saying cross-training is never useful. Cross-training is better than nothing. However, if the choice is between cross-training and running, there is almost never a case where cross-training would benefit your running performances even as much as spending the same amount of time running.

  • #18484

    ParagonCD
    Member

    The disconnect in this discussion to me seems to be looking at ideas versus realities. I agree 100% that I would like to run my 6-7 days of workouts and not XT at all. This is also how elite/non-elite status comes into play. As I am improving my training volume it is nearly inevitable I reach certain plateus where I am unable to increase my running mileage. This is probably not untrue for elites, however, it is somewhat less of an issue since they are typically at/near their max lifetime mileage.

    For my training I am doing 5 days running and one day on the eliptical. To me the eliptical has the nearest proximity to exercise specificity. Specificity is the ideal if we recall from the above paragraph and previous discussion. The problem is exercise specificity causes breakdowns because of overusing some systems while ignoring others. This is the primary way that XT is of use, it allows training beyond ones running limits without increased stress on the already overextended systems.

    What is very poorly explored in this field is high lvl training that utilizes some non – running activities. Why? because there is a huge mental block to doing so. Why were interval workouts considered the standard for 50+ years? Because its seems so obviously the clear way to get faster is to run fast.

    I think that we will see more and more research stating that some XT is allowing new breakthroughs to occur in running because while specificity is important it is also neglectful of cross over development that while less direct in its benefits can have more potential than without. I beleive this to be particularly the case outside of the African continent where people are developing massive bases mileage at very early ages.

  • #18485

    GTF
    Member
    Ryan wrote:
    I don’t think you’re going to find a whole lot of equipment for cross-training in the Rift Valley or other areas that produce a lot of elites.

    Chores are their cross-training.

    ParagonCD wrote:
    To me the eliptical has the nearest proximity to exercise specificity.

    It is still too dissimilar to be considered a perfect substitute, it works running muscles in distinctly different ways than running does. I know of a reputed exercise physiologist who suggests that cycling is the most beneficial cross-training activity for runners.

    The problem is exercise specificity causes breakdowns because of overusing some systems while ignoring others.

    Rather, because the intensity is too great, the chief obstacle to covering the distance is not the distance but the pace; back off on the intensity and then the distance or volume will be more easily attained.

    This is the primary way that XT is of use, it allows training beyond ones running limits

    Is there concrete evidence of this?

    I think that we will see more and more research stating that some XT is allowing new breakthroughs to occur in running because while specificity is important it is also neglectful of cross over development that while less direct in its benefits can have more potential than without.

    I am not sure that I am understanding what you are trying to explain here, would you mind explaining further?

    I beleive this to be particularly the case outside of the African continent where people are developing massive bases mileage at very early ages.

    You mean somewhere like Japan?

  • #18486

    rehammes
    Member

    You guys have brought up many points that I had not considered. I am now on board with the idea that, running may often be better than XT for overall performance. But to go back to the original post, I think increased mitochondria and capillary density will result from endurance activity of any kind. I don’t think that your running economy improves at all on recovery runs, especially on hard training weeks. Running very easy may even be harmful to economy as your pace is so drastically different than normal training pace. However, improved ability to utilize fat would definately result from an extra run as a week of hard running is very likely to reduce glycogen stores and force your system to burn fat instead. I have no idea whether this process is facilitated by performing the same activity which depleted your stores in the first place.

  • #18487

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    rehammes wrote:
    But to go back to the original post, I think increased mitochondria and capillary density will result from endurance activity of any kind.

    But often not in the right muscles or the ideal parts of the right muscles.

    rehammes wrote:
    I don’t think that your running economy improves at all on recovery runs, especially on hard training weeks. Running very easy may even be harmful to economy as your pace is so drastically different than normal training pace.

    What is the basis for this belief? I can tell you that I have found great improvements in my running economy through base training. In fact, over the past 4+ months, I haven’t done any running at marathon pace or faster and my form and economy are much better now than 4 months ago. Simply through lots of base training.

    rehammes wrote:
    However, improved ability to utilize fat would definately result from an extra run as a week of hard running is very likely to reduce glycogen stores and force your system to burn fat instead. I have no idea whether this process is facilitated by performing the same activity which depleted your stores in the first place.

    I think you lost me on this one.

  • #18488

    Anonymous

    Very few countries have a culture that promotes the gradual inprovement of fitness over time. In countries like the US or perhaps even in japan, really any non african country, runners are driven by one finite goal of success rather than effectively developed into the journey. The one key reason runners in ethiopia and kenya are so very sucessful is that their gradual progression to high mileage and low race intensity in early years dvelops the perfect base for ghigh lvl running. In the US too frequently we think “I should be runnign X miles.” I think this is less the case in those countries and that development is done in a practical way that is step-wise rather than goal -oriented. Because of this I believe that runners from Africa, in particular, are less benefit by XT because they can run more miles ( aka more specificity) than any one else. Therefore, we are most likely to see breakthoughts that utilized XT in countries where XT HAS to be utilized to achieve maximum training intensity.

    In reference to the other statements atm I’m too lazy to reproduce but I have read numerous accounts, particularly of athletes working toward there prime rather than at their those runner who have already reached there prime about the definite benefits of enhancing ability. The same way there can be little doubt that increasing mileage can have concrete effects then there can be little doubt that Running Max Miles + XT to supplement = Greater result than running alone. I know that man people think that lessening intensity is the perfect weapon. Let me provide my owen example of how this beleive doesn’t always apply. I run 50 miles a week, I’m starting to get shin splints. Moving to 60 miles will ultimately lead me to having to take time off, however, if I lessen intensity it doesn’t get rid of shin splints, this affliction is primarily volume based not intensity. Therefore XT is one of the few options afforded to me to help increase my development without risking training setbacks.

    I hope all of this provides some basis for further discussion. I am not claiming to be RIGHT. I do think that my items provide a unique assessent of the issue and what has not been historically considered and will therefore merit continued discussion.

    -para

  • #18489

    Double
    Member

    When I’m tired, I take a day off. When I’m running a lot, I’m less tired. Fishing is my favorite cross-training.

    I know some good runners who cross-train. Some are called triathletes and the others have difficulty running more than 50 a week.

    I don’t care how a person trains, what shoes they wear, what they eat, how much they taper, what time they get up, etc. I’m usually thinking if I can pull a 75 quarter out here at the end, they’ll probably buckle.

    Running is something I do because it favors me. Training for a specific event is challenging. I’m lucky, I’ve always thought big and could probably could stand to think even bigger.

    The only thing that holds me back is my inability to dream it. That and 100 chicken wings a week.

    Ultimately, I could be happy with one long run, one medium run, one track workout, one to the barn, and 4-5 runs of 4-6 miles. That’s the hardest part about life, you can see it there in front of you, but your too busy living life.

    Does any one else have grass that needs mowed.

    Do you find that there are a bunch of other things you enjoy and set aside time to do them? That always screws me up. Baseball cards, cooking out, birding, reading 20th century war books, etc.

    Why do I even bother feeding the kids? They just get hungry again in 3-4 hours.

    Work, what’s up with that.

    Can’t believe I do the grocery shopping and all the laundry. Anybody volunteer for stuff, that never ends.

    Bottom line….you want to run fast, a bunch of that stuff has to go for awhile. Bike riding, lifting, recovery runs. No time for that nonsense if you want to run a sub 2:40 marathon. Pack a lunch. It’s no time for twinkle toeing it.

  • #18490

    rehammes
    Member

    First of all, I don’t think of base training and recovery running as the same type of work out. I think of base training as the non-technical portions of a training program, 6-20 miles with no specific goal other than the accululation of miles. I am under the impression that recovery runs are designed to keep muscles loose and give your body a chance to rest and repair itself after stressful training. I find my stride to be much different at a slow, easy pace than at typical work out pace. The motion is not as fluid. I often find that I get winded easier at a slower pace than faster and for that I have no explanation other than the cadence is radically different. I feel that I run at maximum efficiency at an upper level therefore I don’t believe that I benefit economically from recovery runs.

    In reference to my last point, I had trouble putting the idea into words so let me see if I can clarify. If you are at the point in your training week that would call for a recovery-type workout, it would most likely follow one or two intense work outs. Your glycogen stores will most likely be lower than normal due to intense activity causing the body to use fat for fuel. I don’t know if there is any connection between the method of exercise and the efficiency of your body to convert fat to energy. Therefore, does it matter whether you run or XT to utilize fat more efficiently? I think that’s what I was getting at.

  • #18491

    SwampTiger
    Member

    I googled Pfitzinger and found his website. He has an article that looks like it almost came directly from Advanced Marathoning (or vice versa, I don’t know which came first).

    He summarizes…..

    The Bottom Line

    So, what can we confidently say about the benefits of cross-training?

    1. Cross-training will help you stay in shape when you can’t run. If you cross-train at the same intensity and for the same number of minutes that you would normally run, you will show almost no loss in running fitness for at least 4 weeks, and after that any loss in running performance will be gradual.

    2. If you increase your training volume by cross-training you can improve your running performance. The improvement, however, will not be as large as if you had increased your mileage. This point goes right to the heart of the mileage versus injury trade-off. Sure, you would improve more by increasing your running, but you would also increase your risk of injury. The challenge for the runner is to manage that trade-off by running as much as you can before the risk of injury shoots up.

    3. There is no evidence that cross training will improve performance in elite runners. The concept of specificity of training becomes more critical the higher the level of performance.

  • #18492

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    rehammes wrote:
    First of all, I don’t think of base training and recovery running as the same type of work out. I think of base training as the non-technical portions of a training program, 6-20 miles with no specific goal other than the accululation of miles. I am under the impression that recovery runs are designed to keep muscles loose and give your body a chance to rest and repair itself after stressful training.

    It sounds like this is where our differences are stemming from. I see recovery runs as not just what you describe but also a continuation/maintenance of base training. If you don’t do these runs, what is going to happen to that base you spent months building during the 2-3 months that you’re doing hard workouts? Simple, you’re going to lose that fitness. If you do these runs, you not only maintain that fitness but you can even build upon that fitness while building speed.

    SwampTiger wrote:
    1. Cross-training will help you stay in shape when you can’t run. If you cross-train at the same intensity and for the same number of minutes that you would normally run, you will show almost no loss in running fitness for at least 4 weeks, and after that any loss in running performance will be gradual.

    2. If you increase your training volume by cross-training you can improve your running performance. The improvement, however, will not be as large as if you had increased your mileage. This point goes right to the heart of the mileage versus injury trade-off. Sure, you would improve more by increasing your running, but you would also increase your risk of injury. The challenge for the runner is to manage that trade-off by running as much as you can before the risk of injury shoots up.

    3. There is no evidence that cross training will improve performance in elite runners. The concept of specificity of training becomes more critical the higher the level of performance.

    I’ve been known to say the same thing almost word for word even without reading this. Interesting.

    A few notes I would make about how I say this. First, point 1 is pretty straightforward. As for point 2, the issue I have is that I think most people greatly overestimate the injury risk of increasing volume. Sure, there’s an increased injury risk with every extra step you take. However, the major injury risk when increasing volume is pace. People increase volume while running too fast and get themselves in trouble. As for number 3, I’d go on to point out that there is no evidence cross-training will improve performance in any runner as much as using the same amount of time for running. The concept of specificity of training is more critical the higher the level of performance but it is critical regardless of level of performance.

  • #18493

    rehammes
    Member

    I thinking you are over-emphasizing the importance of the 7th day of running. I don’t think you stand to lose anything in terms of speed or endurance by not running 4-5 easy miles. After all, it is only 1 day. However, I think you stand to benefit from by allowing yourself to rest, or using your muscles in a different way, you will be better prepared for another week of hard training.

  • #18494

    randys
    Participant

    One day off a week costs you 52 days a year. I think an extra 52 days of aerobic running will improve your condition more than not running.

    One day off a week doesn’t sound like much, but missing 52 days of training sounds pretty significant to me.

    I hope the ‘extra’ 104 days I ran the past 2 years pays off on Sunday. I am racing a marathon with a forecast for 20 mph winds and gusts of 30+.

    Randy

  • #18495

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    rehammes wrote:
    I thinking you are over-emphasizing the importance of the 7th day of running. I don’t think you stand to lose anything in terms of speed or endurance by not running 4-5 easy miles. After all, it is only 1 day. However, I think you stand to benefit from by allowing yourself to rest, or using your muscles in a different way, you will be better prepared for another week of hard training.

    As Randy pointed out, 1 day a week is over 7 weeks a year. Do you think taking 7 weeks off every year wouldn’t hurt your performance level? If you can limit that to 1 day per month instead of 1 day per week, you just went from taking off over 7 weeks every year to under 2 weeks every year. You just gained 5-6 weeks per year, over a whole month’s worth of training. Even if you go to every other week, you gain over 3.5 weeks per year of training. That is significant.

  • #18496

    rehammes
    Member

    I there is a benefit to be gained by either cross training or resting all together. Every marathon training program I’ve followed has incorporated XT or total rest to a running regimen. If you don’t agree, fine. I think I would get burned out by not allowing myself enough opportunities to rest.

  • #18497

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Sure. Sometimes rest is needed but I do not believe scheduled rest is helpful. You’re better off letting your body let you know when you need time off. The problem with the cookie cutter schedules you find is that the writers of those schedules typically seem to think people are too stupid to think for themselves and adjust the programs for their own needs, which would include taking a day off when truly needed instead of on a pre-planned schedule.

    As for cross-training, if you have truly maximized your running and you can still do something else, it may help. However, especially for people with life commitments, this type of situation is beyond rare. The one other time I can think of a benefit would be if/when someone does get an injury that limits or eliminates one’s ability to run.

  • #18498

    GTF
    Member

    Yet you really have no realistic idea, either way. You must also think that Pete Pfitzinger overstates the importance of a “7th day of running” rather than cross-training.

    The article posted by SwampTiger is a good one, and the brightest gem among what was quoted is as follows:

    “The improvement, however, will not be as large as if you had increased your mileage.”

    There seem to be some misconceptions floating around regarding base training, recovery runs, cross-training, rest, and mileage. First, recovery runs and base training are not mutually exclusive. In comprehensive base mileage training, some training sessions will be harder than others as it is important to vary the effort/pace between training sessions rather than keep it essentially the same for every run. Also, the noted problems with an easy recovery pace could very well be related to gait or form issues. FYI, the bit about glycogen possibly being depleted enough after one or two workouts to trigger fat-burning to any major degree during a recovery run seems rather tenuous, unless one goes for a couple of days without eating prior to and between workouts or said workouts are excessively long. Additionally, by opting to cross-train rather than take in recovery runs then one will be limiting overall mileage as well as the maximum length of long runs or the effectiveness of other training sessions. Jim Gerwick detailed this expertly in his article regarding the Hansons marathon training program in a recent issue of Running Times. As has been observed time and again, rest is an integral part of recovery; how much rest one will need for effective recovery depends on both the intensity and the duration of the training session, as well as other factors that feed into recovery such as hydration and nutrition. At some point, pretty much any runner will reap the benefits of a day of complete rest and one should certainly take a rest day of one feels like it — however, to get the greatest benefit out of training, the timing of a rest day should be determined by listening to one’s body (whether that is from self-perceived signals or by checking resting HR or whatever method one has found to be effective) rather than simplistically heeding a routine rest (or cross-training) day just because it is in a prefab training plan. Also, if one never tries any differently than the latter, then one will never know for certain if one’s fears have any basis in reality or not. Each individual definitely has a set mileage maximum. However, that maximum will not be reached except by a sensible build-up unhindered by mental limits; that maximum also can change with experience and accumulated training as well as with age and/or disease — in other words, recovery rate can both improve and diminish over time. It is doubtlessly true that cross-training can allow a person to expand one’s aerobic fitness beyond their maximum mileage limit, I know a top European athlete who did this in college and would incorporate 2-3 mornings of swimming each week once he was training at the maximum mileage and intensity load that he knew his body could carry. However, I have seen more than enough accounts of the training and racing that most runners who post to internet forums have done to have doubts that more than a few have ever made an honest and truly sensible stab at reaching that maximum mileage and intensity load. It seems that most who tout the virtues of cross-training as a part of their own training routines have not bothered to explore their maximum limits in earnest and therefore – as Pfitzinger indicates – end up short-changing their fitness. It is not wrong to err on the side of caution, per se, but it also is not congruent with optimal training.

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