How to know you are recovered. (Read 910 times)




    For those of you who have or are now currently on a 4 or 5  run day or more serious training plan who don't often get injured:


    I would like to hear about how you know that and get confident that you are recovered enough for the next challenging workout?


    How much fatigue or tired muscles are typical?


    Do you ever start a long run or a track run or other speed workout  with feet and calves somewhat aching?


    Seems like that kind of thing would merit another short shake out run or cross training day?


    What are your policies or physical  signs you look  at for  "recovered enough".




      I'd love to see some knowledgeable opinions on this.


      I always run easy the day after an interval or tempo workout, so I gauge my recovery based on whether I can hit my normal easy pace on normal easy effort, adjusted for the route I'm doing. Usually I can tell if my legs ache more than usual or I find it harder to breathe.


      Of course, effort level varies based on sleep, food, if I'm running too early in the morning (legs rarely feel quite right), phase of moon, whatever, but I can tell that on some days my legs just ache more than usual and I've got to take it easier than normal to make sure I'm ready for the next day's workout.


      Sometimes, even when I don't feel good before starting a hard run, I feel better after a mile or two of easy running, and get a good hard workout in. So even if I might bag the hard workout after one interval, or even just after the warmup, I make an effort to just get out there and start jogging, just to see how the legs react. Sometimes the result is surprisingly good.

        My "test" is the 1.1 mile uphill that I do for a power walk warmup - if it doesn't feel warmed up, I'll go to the 1.5 mile mark and decide there if it's to be all easy or all power walk (sometimes my power walk I can hold a faster pace than the easy run). You get to experiment to find out what works for you...  Smile

        Marathons are habit-forming...

        "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

        Philippians 4:13, NLT


          I check my resting heart rate when I wake up each day.  If it is more than a few beats higher than my typical baseline, I know that I am either not recovered from the last run or I did not get enough rest.  If it is higher, i take a rest day or just run very easy. 

           201x goals: run a bunch....race some.....repeat...

          Feeling the growl again

            In general, the best way to watch for accumulating fatigue is an elevated resting HR first thing in the morning.  That said, the measure is not particularly useful as a definitive measure of whether you are recovered enough on any one given day for a hard workout.  For example overall you could be pretty well recovered but your muscles may still be sore/tired.


            Basically, if your resting HR is starting to elevate more than a day or two after your last hard workout, you've already done one or two hard days that you should not have.


            Think about how you feel on a day that you KNOW you are rested.  If you finish your warmup for a workout, and you don't feel like you did on that day....maybe you should call off the workout.  There are a decent number of days I plan to do a workout, but when I get ready for it I just don't feel it.  So I bag it and usually try again the next day.  But wait until after your warmup to make the call; quite often when training hard I'll feel like crap getting started but once I warm up I am fine.  This is especially true for morning runs.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


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            Drink up moho's!!

              Part of training is cumulative fatigue so be careful about being too recovered for the next training session.


              I am currently reading the Hanson's Marathon Method book and they talk about this and how to string training sessions together.  They refer to the harder workouts as SOS workouts or something of substance.  For the Hanson plan that is the weekly speed or strength session, tempo session, and long run.  They call it a tempo session but its actually a marathon pace run.  You should not plan 2 SOS sessions back to back, always have a rest day or preferably an easy day between them.  Staying up with training it is very important to hit your paces as well.


              Easy run they prescribe at 1 to 2 minutes slower than marathon race pace.  Too fast and you mess up the next run and do not benefit from the training effect of the easy run.  Speed or strength depends on 5K and 10K paces, and the tempo and LR will depend on your marathon goal pace.  Since part of the training is cumualtive fatigue then running on tired legs isn't a bad thing even slight sore legs isn't a bad thing but just keep an eye out to determine its soreness and not pain from an injury.  If you are just too tired or time crunched from running the prescribed 7 mil tempo run then run a 4 mile tempo run.  You are cutting it short so that isn't exactly ideal but it is still better than bagging a run just because you are tired.


              And odd as it may seem, running more will help you recover quicker and become a healthy runner.


                Thanks for the responses so far. The accumulated fatigue concept is interesting, Venomized. I am mostly concerned with staying below a threshold of "not recovered enough" that would cause flareups of old injuries. Probably not a deeper level of fatigue like you mention, but the regular localized muscular stuff.  Basically looking for what it might take not to have relapses into an old plantar fascia injury, but also not to let it hold me back more than needed. Every morning when I wake up I wonder if this will be the day it's back. Maybe I should post a thread specific to that, but I have always wanted to know how other runners felt in general before the next workout. It's just too easy to push on when maybe it is a bad idea.


                Good suggestion  about comparing general sense of readiness for a hard workout  with other good days. I know some of us come from the idea that there are "no excuses". Some of us have had coaches or running buddies like that. It's a little difficult to shake that at times even though it doesn't make sense that we would want , for no good reason, to skip something that would make us better runners! Seeing what a warm up is like, maybe even trying the first interval or rep. and taking another day of lower intensity to get ready for the hard work out is sensible or just finish it with less intensity unless something changes and not worry too much about it?


                These are things I will keep in mind.



                  when i was lifting weights we used to think that you shouldn't lift if you were still sore. Then it became clear that working out sore muscles could garner great gains.

                    There is an age factor that's part of the equation as well.  Any 50 year old who says he can work out as hard as and recover as fast as a 25 year old is delusional.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.  And I say that as someone who recently turned 50.  Sometimes it's obvious that I'm not recovered enough to do a set of intervals or a tempo run but sometimes it's not.  I do an assessment when I'm about a mile into a tempo run or on about the 2nd repeat of a set of intervals.  How do I feel?  If it seems just to be a little harder or if I'm off pace by just a smidgen (say 5 seconds on a tempo run or 1-2 seconds per 400 meters on intervals), then I know it's just some accumulated training fatigue and that's actually not a bad thing.  However, if I'm 10-15 seconds slower on that tempo run or if I'm 3-4 seconds slower on the intervals or if the tempo run feels more like a 5K race effort, then I know I am not recovered sufficiently.  When that happens, I think you can make two choices.


                    The first choice is to realize that it's not your day and to just run easy and call it a day.  The second is to try to either push through at a faster pace, in which case you'll likely blow up halfway through, or to do the workout at a significantly reduced pace, in which case you don't get the benefit of the workout.  I have backed out of a lot of workouts in my life and I frequently go out and have a great workout the next day.  

                    Short term goal: 17:59 5K

                    Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

                    Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).

                      There is an age factor that's part of the equation as well.  Any 50 year old who says he can work out as hard as and recover as fast as a 25 year old is delusional.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.


                      Except for BadDawg of course.

                      Runners run.

                        Except for BadDawg of course.

                         This morning, a week out from a marathon, and I'm dying.  It was then that I recalled BadDawg and the fact that he raced a 5k the day after Boston. Kids. 

                        "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus


                           Then it became clear that working out sore muscles could garner great gains.


                          ^^ this.  When my cardio work out was boxing (using the bag though and not sparring with anyone) before I got into running, the recommended frequency of workout was not more than three times a week.  I boxed 5 or 6 times a week.  My hands, back, and arms were pretty sore at first but it just felt good when my muscles adapted to the routine.


                            I think I am getting it on the recovery stress balance, or it's all coming back/together or something . Thanks for the comments.  BTW. I am the OP, but I changed my name forum name to "middle distance".


                            One interesting thing, I used to know a good bike racer. He said he always knew his fitness was going up a notch when he had been working out well and the caught the common cold! Wierd? Make sense somehow?

                              Since part of the training is cumualtive fatigue then running on tired legs isn't a bad thing even slight sore legs isn't a bad thing but just keep an eye out to determine its soreness and not pain from an injury.

                              Ah, but that's the black art for most runners.


                              I've been running for a little over three years now, having started in fall 2009 with a Higdon HM plan that topped at maybe 20-25mi/wk and most recently having carried ~55mi/wk (with some blips).  I don't check morning HR because mine varies a lot (other physiological factors at play).  I go by feel.  On a workout day, unless something hurts, I tend to warm up and at least start the planned workout.  I'll know soon enough if I'm not recovered enough to hit the target paces/times at the right perceived effort.

                              "I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you."

                              -- Dick LeBeau


                              Drink up moho's!!

                                That damned black art voodoo magic in what we do.  CliveF brings up a valid point, starting a workout and making an evaluation once warmed up is a good idea.  If you are still sore after the warm up then chances are its more than just general fatigue and sore tired legs.