Today I start a week of recovery. And even if I would like to keep pushing the machine because the shape is good, I will respect it. The recovery week is essential in a balanced training. It is even essential if we want to progress while avoiding injuries and I will explain why.
What is a week of recovery?
First of all, what do I call a week of recovery? I think it is important to describe this because the term "recovery week" means everything and nothing depending on how we interpret it. If you think about "staying in bed all week to rest", that's not exactly what I have in mind. No, the recovery week is used year-round in effective training and is an active recovery. Because if doing nothing for a few days can be effective to recover from a very big effort (or even more after a marathon as I explain here), training in a "light" way is very effective to recover.
By training in a lighter way, we make the body work while giving it time to regenerate itself from past efforts. So you don't lose shape like with a complete stop. It is also called assimilation week because it is in the off-peak periods that adaptations are made in the body that will make you stronger for the future.
Recovery week: Instructions for use!
Turn off the drive volume
In concrete terms, all you have to do is cut between a third and half of your training volume to have a week of effective recovery. A few examples. For someone who runs 3 times a week, the number of outings can stay at 3 during the week but 45' footings will be reduced to 30'. For a runner who trains 6 times a week, the volume cut will be double. The number of outputs should be reduced to 4 (maximum 5 outputs but with a good adjustment of their duration and intensity - see below).
Adjust the intensity
Removing the intensity sessions (fractionated, threshold...) is not necessary during a week of recovery if you are used to doing it regularly. Keep the work at the same training pace but reduce the number of repetitions / length of repetitions or increase the recovery time between each repetition. A session of 12 x 300m recup : 1' could for example become 2 x 5 x 300m recup 1' and 3' between series or 10 x 300m recup 1'20. Obviously, as for the previous point, everything has to be adapted to your own training. If you are at 3 sessions happy with the intensity per week, you must at least remove one session for the recovery to be effective.
When to place a week of recovery in your training?
Generally, my training works on 4-week cycles. This is not always the case and cycles of 3 or 5 weeks may occasionally exist. But overall I find that 4 weeks is an effective cycle. This allows you to do 3 good weeks of training and to recover during one week of recovery before starting a new cycle.
Big practice? Focus on the recovery week!
If there is ever a time when doing a week of recovery at the end of each training cycle is when you train hard! In fact, the more you train, the more important recovery is. I'm not saying that taking a cooler week when you run 2-3 times a week is not useful, quite the contrary. But when you're at 5 or more workouts a week, you put stress on your body almost every day and it's important to give it time to take it all in!
During a marathon training plan and its long and tiring outings, for triathletes who have to work 3 disciplines at the same time, for ultra runners and their outings that last hours, or simply if you have increased your training volume recently... The recovery week counts as much as the weeks of intense training if you want to progress!
Complete recovery week?
We are often used to using the week as a basis for work because it is the simplest. Training days are easy to plan, long outings are often on Sundays, the day when you have the most time... However, this is not necessarily the only format you can use. For the recovery week, for example, a full week of recovery is not necessarily essential. Depending on the degree of fatigue, I often use a 5-day block of recovery instead of a full week. The effects in terms of regeneration are sufficient after 5 days if you have not pulled too much on the machine before that and you cancel any loss of shape that may result from the limited activity!
From my point of view, it is a mistake not to respect a recovery phase every month. An error that can be paid for by stagnation, abnormal fatigue or injury. Don't wait for these signals to recover! ????