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Do You Have Active Recovery Weeks in Your Full or Half Marathon Training Program?

  • What is Active Recovery?
  • Do you have active recovery weeks in your full or half marathon training program?
  • How often do you have them?
  • What do you do during your active recovery weeks?

I know this video addresses tapering issues but you need to do the "Rs" during any recovery days / week.

What is active recovery?

Workouts that are LOW intensity, usually with shorter durations to let the body recover from difficult training weeks or races. Many times, taking a day or two completely off is also recommended.

Do you have active recovery weeks in your full or half marathon training program?

You should. I don't know a good training program that doesn't have "Easy or Recovery" weeks built in. The Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs use a periodized approach. We'll build for a few weeks then use a week for active recovery. After our active recovery (low intensity) week, we start a new phase. When our run get long, we may have a recovery week after two weeks. Every program is a little different and you need to listen to your body.

Remember, as we get older, it takes longer to recover. Our bodies just don't bounce back like they used too but many times our brains don't realize it and we push too hard and get injured. Trust me, I know because I make the same mistakes. I think I'm younger than I am.  If your body is telling you rest or recovery listen to it.

How often do you have active recovery weeks?

I gave you part of the answer above but think about this, longer runs (3 hours and over) take a pretty significant toll on your body. When you are into the long hours or mileage in your program, rest and refueling needs to be a priority. Your body repairs while you sleep. Get enough rest and refuel with proper nutrition. These are key for recovery and having good results on your next tough week(s) of traing. Many of the "old school" marathon training programs yo-yo between long and short weeks, using the short weeks as recovery. The Sole Runners programs tend to go two or three weeks before a recovery week. Your body need to get used to being out there for a while and the stress that is placed on it. I know that going long for a couple of weeks  has worked better for me than yo-yoing between long and short weeks.

What do you do during your active recovery weeks?

I tell the Sole Runners to take a couple to a few days completely off. 48 hours of not training will not hurt the training effect as long as these days aren't back to back. Rest, eat and enjoy yourself. Training for a marathon or half marathon shouldn't be torture. You need to have fun.

I also suggest easy cross-training during the week. How about a restorative yoga class? Can you go to an Indoor Cycling class, sit in the back of the room and go easy? It helps get the blood moving and flush out the toxins you have built up from your hard training.  Maybe some swimming which can also help your breathing. Try using a pull buoy and let your legs relax. The key is to keep your intensity low when training during your active recovery weeks.

The Sole Runners active recovery weeks are 7 days long, not just a couple then right back into high intensity workouts. Since this is such an important topic I'll probably make a video and discuss this it greater details but use the tips above to think about the importance of recovery and how you us it in your training.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel - RRCA Certified Marathon Coach


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