Ordinarily, I’m no great fan of recovery week. In fact, I generally spend the week bitching and moaning about how much I hate recovery, how much it sucks to cut back on mileage, why it’s lame to run an easy pace all week, wah, wah, wah-itty wah. You know, missing the entire point of the mental side of recovery. But not this week. This week was freakin’ glorious and I enjoyed every single recovery second of it.
Flashback to last Sunday morning, when I had 18 miles on the plan and I was lying prone on my living room floor, already dressed in running clothes and whining about how there was no way in the world I could possibly run 18 miles. My legs were tired and my head was overwhelmed. I was teetering on the brink of overtraining. I pulled myself together long enough to force my body outside, bargaining in my head about how many miles I had to go before I could pull the plug. I thought I could probably slog through ten miles. I would stay close to home so I could walk it in any time I needed to.
The sky was as grey and foggy as my thoughts when I set out, but cleared into a beautiful sunny day within an hour or so. I finished the whole 18 miles, but only because I spent most of the run planning and looking forward to my upcoming cutback week.
My plan was simple: run no more than five miles each day and keep my pace as slow as I could bear to run. You might be surprised at how easy this was to execute. By Thursday, my legs felt free and loose. My mind relaxed and I just sank into each run like a comfy pillow, not caring if I was running slow or really, really slow (those were pretty much my only speed choices).
I’ve been running a lot of miles lately, gearing up for a trio of ultras this spring and I’m realizing that embracing recovery week is going to be hugely important to my success. I’m pushing my body pretty hard (not fast, of course, just hard), running six days a week and hitting double digits at least twice and sometimes three times a week. I took my sweet-ass time building up to this volume, so I’m confident that my body had time to adapt to this running schedule, but my brain is definitely taking a little more time to catch up.
Good news, it only seems to be about a week behind: This morning, getting ready to run ten miles, I felt giddy and excited about running. The trails were calling my name and I was eager to go. I felt – for the first time in what feels like a long time – refreshed. I would have happily run twice as far, but I’ll save that for next week.