R+R: Sage Advice

Sage and her smile rocking the course at the Big Sur Marathon this year.

As you probably know, I'm a huge fan of Sage Rountree. I love The Athlete's Guide to Yoga, her DVD. (I am especially grateful for the IT Band flow series on it). I love that, during a recent conversation I had with her, she was talking up the merits of running watchless. (Not just Garmin-less, but no data, period.) Her strategy for the 2011 Big Sur Marathon, where her wrists were noticeably bare? For the first half, she asked herself, am I going slow enough?; during the second half, she flipped it: can I go faster? Now that's a pacing strategy I can get behind.

I also love her new book The Athlete's Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance, which is devoted completely to giving your body a break so that it can give you the best. When you only have a short window, from say, 5:30-6:30 in the morning, it's so easy to get focused solely on getting in your run, but that go-run-go-run strategy, without a recovery period, isn't the smartest idea, as Sage explains in this Q+A:

Q: What is recovery: is it total rest, going to a yoga class, taking a walk or just scaling back your normal run?
A: Recovery is giving your body the time to do what it does best: change, to adapt to the training you've done. That can mean total rest, but it can also mean gentle yoga or light aerobic exercise. Recovery needs to be cyclical, with relatively lighter periods each day, each week, each month, and each year.

Q: You say that most athletes aren't overtrained, but underrested. This obviously applies to moms, especially new moms, right?
A: True overtraining syndrome is a very serious medical condition. Most of us—especially new mothers—are simply doing too much relative to what we are able to absorb. It’s during rest that we adapt to the stress of training. If we don’t have enough rest, we don’t improve. Those of us who are spread thin don’t get enough time to recover relative to the work we’re doing, and performance suffers.

Q: In a perfect world, how much sleep would you recommend for an active, running mom?
A: I like the rule of thumb that you should add to your usual seven- to nine-hour nightly requirement (yes, seven to nine hours!) X minutes per night, where X is the amount of miles you’re running weekly. Thus someone running 30 miles a week should add a half hour to her nightly sleep, or take a nap to make up the difference.

Q: How much does nutrition play into recovery?
A: Nutrition is extremely important for recovery. You need to eat a well-balanced, varied diet so that your body has the nutrients it needs to rebuild itself. You also need to manage your nutrition before, during, and after workouts so that you don’t create a deficit that would be hard to overcome.

The recovery snack plays into this, as well. We hear talk about those first thirty minutes after a workout being the “glycogen window,” in which we should get in a snack--and if you miss it, you're in trouble. In fact, that window is broader and doesn’t slam shut after thirty minutes, but the message is a good one: take in a small snack (around 150–200 calories, mostly carbs) after a long or hard workout, and you’ll be less depleted and less likely to find yourself craving a scone later that day. This snack could be a sports drink, a smoothie, yogurt with nuts, half a bagel with almond butter, or something similar.

A book that celebrates downtime. What's not to love?

Q: If you had to recommend just one piece of recovery equipment for moms, what would it be?
A: A bed!

Beyond that, the foam roller can be helpful to work out the kinks. You can use a roller; a fancy device like Trigger Point Therapies or the Stick; a ball; or even a rolling pin to make a few passes over the major muscle groups of your legs. This can help keep your muscles in better shape by preventing adhesions in the connective tissue that surrounds and permeates them.

Q: Is there a way to know when you’ve done a good job on recovery?
A: When you’re recovering right, your performance will improve. You’ll probably also feel springy, optimistic, and ready to work, but that’s specific to the individual. Performance is an objective indicator of recovery. Trust it. When you don’t see improvement, or you find you’re slowing down, check your log or mentally review what you've done lately. If you’re working hard on your hard days, you may need to include more easy days between and to focus on nutrition and sleep. Adding this attention to recovery can make all the difference.

Q: What was one fact/aspect about recovery that surprised you most when you wrote the book?
A: I’m constantly surprised that we need to “sell” recovery! You’d think that not training too much would be the simplest thing on earth, but for type-A endurance athletes, it’s very hard to let go. Instead, folks try to control their performance by doing more and more, when doing less would actually take them further. It requires a leap of faith, much like running only 20 miles before your marathon does. Trust that it will work, and you’ll learn in time that it does.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect for you personally to embrace about recovery?
A: It’s still hard for me to take the time for recovery after a big race. When you’ve had a peak event, you’re usually on an emotional high, and when that fades you’re left craving endorphins and afraid of losing fitness. Or, if the race didn’t go as planned, you’re out for redemption. Either way, it’s tempting to return to concerted training too soon. But that fallow period of doing no or only easy workouts—a week or two after a half marathon, two or three after a full—is critical for deep cellular recovery, and ultimately for mental recovery, too.

Want more wisdom from the aptly-named Sage? We're giving away five copies of her new recovery book to five random readers. All you have to do is answer this Q for you: Do you make a conscious effort at recovery, or is that not in your mentality--or schedule?


156 responses to “R+R: Sage Advice

  1. I definitely make an effort, and have been pleasantly surprised how much better my running is since I added in a short and slow recovery run once a week. On that note…off to bed!

  2. I could definitely work on incorporating recovery better into my schedule. I’ve noticed that when I am planning on a longer weekend run, I feel much better during the run if I rest my legs for at least a day or two before the run. However, it’s tricky to skip working out and I usually feel guilty for taking a couple of days off. I think incorporating yoga and stretching on the recovery days would be a much better compromise. I’m finding that I am a bit of a cardio addict and I’m trying to incorporate other forms of fitness regularly. Running is awesome and makes me feel great, but to keep it fun and fresh I know I need to alternate activities. Still working on that…

  3. I do a lot of cross training: swimming, rowing, cycling, which I consider active recovery. I do long workouts or a long run on weekends and make sure to fit in a couple of naps to get more rest.

  4. Just recently started running again and trying to be conscious of recovery, not always sure what to do though. This was great and I would love a copy of the book!

  5. After a race, I try to get in a few extra days of yoga and ease off on the running for about a week.
    On a weekly basis, I try to get 2-3 longer yoga sessions in, and I stretch after each run.
    I also take a rest day at least once each week.

  6. Coming back from baby #2, I’ve been making sure that I’m taking a day between runs–however, actually getting enough rest has been tough while breast-feeding. It’s been a good reminder that it’s okay to not run if I’m too tired.

  7. I’m not very good at making myself rest and I’ve reached the point several times in the last few weeks where my body not only demands rest, but comes right out and takes it. I think my first marathon last weekend suffered the effects of this. Did I learn my lesson? Only time will tell. Gosh, I hope so.

  8. I am envious of those people who can reel it in and take it easy. However, with that said, I have become better at taking a day off to let my body and mind take a break. With 3 half marathons coming up (one in August, one in September, and one in October) I know that I need to be very careful. And although Yoga for Runners has peaked my inerest before, I am really excited to find a class or good video to get started. Thanks for the post. It seems like you all know when Imost need the information you are posting!

  9. I don’t get enough sleep, but I do force myself to take the rest days on my training schedule. though I feel guilty and a little antsy if I HAD time to run, and didn’t. Like, I’m worried that I should have kept that one in the bank for another day when life got away from me. But if it means I can spend a little time with hubby, or if it just makes me that much more jazzed to run the next day that I’m “allowed” to, that rest is valuable time.

  10. After a big race, I’m pretty good at scaling back for a couple weeks and easing back in. During training though, I don’t pay as much attention to recoveryas I ought to on any aspect. Some of this advice I’m hearing for the first time and it makes so much sense. I’ve never been so excited about recovery and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

  11. On my training schedule, I have listed “rest” once a week. I do really well at keeping these days sacred, however, I like the word “recovery” much better – it sounds more like a necessity. In the life a busy mom, resting is a luxury. If I think of these days as recovery, then I’m actually “doing something,” right? Also, does my 7 hours of rest per night count if I’m dreaming about running? 🙂

  12. I am struggling with training right now and I think it is because i didn’t give myself enough rest after my marathon. I am cutting back my quantity for more quality and hope my brain follows.

  13. Not easy personality-wise for me. Love this interview, though, as a motivator for me to rest my third-trimester pregnant body!

  14. I never remember to rest and recover…that is, until I’m injured. Running is my alternative to going crazy and it’s easy for me to slip into a zone where I’m doing too much, too fast. Thus, I’ve suffered from a shin injury for the past 3 months and I’ve found that mixing up my schedule, adding swimming, yoga and going easier on myself when I’m just plain tired has been key. I’m totally going out to buy Sage’s athlete’s guide to yoga. This was a great post! Thanks.

  15. Great review! You definitely have me interested in reading more!

    I’m on the lazy side and recovery comes easy to me. I have Pilates and yoga scheduled on off days.

  16. Yes and no. I do try but sometimes life gets away from me and I’m up late at night folding laundry, working on curriculum, helping a babe through a nightmare. Sleep and even nutrition are the recovery pieces that suffer most for me.

  17. I schedule recovery into my monthly schedule. On my spreadsheet, I make those weeks a different color so that when I am tweaking the schedule later on, I don’t forget that those are *supposed* to be light weeks. If I didn’t mark them, it’d be too easy to nudge those runs longer and longer.

  18. I have learned the hard way how important recovery days are…I am on the mend for a partially torn Achilles tendon. It was bothering me for months prior to training for half maraton and tore 5 steps from the finish line. I am learning about proper stretching and listening to my over 40 body about when to work out and when to rest.

  19. This is so helpful for me. After my half I did not take enough time off and got injured. I am still working to overcome injury so I can run another half. And this time I plan to take it easier!

  20. I do not typically have recovery times planned unless I am training for a triathlon. Then my coach has recovery periods scheduled for me.

  21. Injuries give us insight into the importance of recovery. But, it is still hard to take time off, especially after a big race when everything went “right”. You start asking questions like, “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that… exactly what am I capable of doing?”. Rest is hard for me, so I make a conscious effort to do so. I feel like I am on a continuous journey of learning and listening to my body.

  22. I definitely try to eat after a hard workout, but that’s about it for my recovery efforts. I really like the adding your mile total to your sleep, will try to do that!

  23. I need more sleep! I’m up to 30- 35 miles a week but haven’t found the time for more sleep. Maybe my babies will start sleeping through the night and sleeping in!

  24. What timing! I’m just coming off a ‘quick start’ to attain my racing weight, and I’m really, really bummed I’m NOT running an hour every day and working super hard anymore! I have found, to my surprise, that I HATE recovery/rest days… but, I’m really making an effort this week to take it easy, because I’ve demanded alot from my body recently.

  25. This was my first year in over 30 years of running to experience not one, but injury after injury. I was forced into many episodes of rest by health care providers and fought them, returning too soon only to be back on rest two weeks to a month later. FINALLY, many months and $’s later, I got it and took a real rest. Coming back I have embraced cross training and realized I do not get to have running as my therapy if I abuse my body and ignore fatigue or imbalances. It was a hard lesson learned. Now off to bed for me. We moms need to set our own bedtimes and stick to them.

  26. I find it very dificult to give myself ample time for recovery. Like it was stated earlier, I am craving the endorphins and afraid to lose fitness.

  27. I actually look forward to my recover days. They are the only days where I’m not obsessing and stressing when I’m going to fit in a run and for how long. And then if I don’t get in a run as long as I’d planned I’ll have to figure out where to make up for it. I’m constantly playing headgames. But when I know it’s a rest/revovery day then I don’t stress at all for the entire day. It helps both my body and my mind!

  28. I try to make an effort at recovery… but sometimes I just let life get in the way! I always pay for it though, when I’m negligent my body finds a way to remind me to take care of it!

  29. Now, after becoming injured by not recovering properly from my first marathon, I will most certainly make time to recover. Lesson learned the hard way. 🙁

  30. I used to have a hard time incorporating recovery into my training, however, after a few failed attempts, my body let me know that I was over training. I have since learned to listen to my body and try to follow what it is telling me for my best performance.

  31. I’m on an unscheduled recovery currently due to injury. Once I am ready to run again, I will certainly build recovery into my training so that I can do my best to prevent injury. Thank you for the reminder!

  32. I’m guilty of not planning on adequate recovery. Oddly enough, though, I’ve found that my body just sort of demands it. After a month of hard triathlon training and brick workouts, I went through about ten days where I simply could NOT get up early enough to get to the gym, or even if I did, I only felt like doing about half my usual workout. Then all of a sudden this week I’m back. I’ve wanted to get the workouts in and they’ve felt great. I even PRed on my bike ride! This post about Sage’s book seems so timely!

  33. I go back and forth. There are times when I am really good at taking rest days and cross training and such for months at a time, and then I’ll feel good enough that I think “I can be pushing a lot harder than I am” and end up going so hard that I regret it. Still working on finding that balance. After pushing super hard through January and into February, I had to scale things back for a couple of months. I feel like I’ve finally found a balance again, and am just starting marathon training so I am trying to be conscious of scheduling rest and not overdoing it so I can stay strong and healthy though the next few months!

  34. Last time I didn’t allow for recovery my IT band demanded it with a month off of running. I’d rather take time to recover than be frustrated on the stationary bike!

  35. I’m a big believer in recovery–but as a mother, I often find more “recovery” time sent my way than I had planned (sick kids, change of plans, etc.). Oh well, you gotta roll with the punches, right?

  36. Scheduling recovery time is something I struggle with. I only run 3 days a week, but even on my “easy” cross training days it turns into a competition with myself–“Can I go faster on the bike? Let’s see how long I can go on the row machine before I feel tired.”–so my recovery days aren’t really recovery days. I need to teach myself how to take an “easy” day, but I find it to be so hard because I get antsy if I am not doing any exercise that doesn’t make me sweat. I do however sleep 8-9 hours every night, so that’s a start, right?!

  37. I am at no risk of over-training now that kiddo #3 is here–I can only fit in a small portion of the training I want to do. But previously, I always took a week off after a race. I don’t think a whole week was necessary for physical recovery, but it allowed me to make up lost time on laundry, errands, bedtime stories, etc. and I was so eager to run again at the end of a week, I never risked burnout!

  38. I definitely try, however, the stress relief of exercise is so important to me that a rest or recovery day in my week, usually just means walking instead of running…that counts, right?

  39. Yes, I make a point to allow recovery in my training. Rest days are usually Sunday or Monday. When I was training for the fulls, I had 2 weekly rest days which was a blessing. I also drink up chocolate milk after any runs over 5 miles. There is really no effort put forth to mark a rest day on my planner. I love my rest days 🙂

  40. I do take an active stab on recovery. Love the powdered recovery drinks like Recoverite and Endurox. and I’m a big fan of Sage. Her studio is only a few miles from my house.

  41. Yes I build in one day a week to recover during low train weeks (20 miles or less) and sometimes I allow myself a second day but it’s REALLY hard not to go for a quick three miler on those days, I admit!

  42. I try to stretch and plan my week so that I run every other day, but after reading this I realize I don’t give it as much attention (or nutrition) as I should. I guess if I feel tired at the beginning of a run that should tell me something. I am gearing up to train for my first marathon and I realize that it’ll be the things I didn’t think of as important that I’ll need to pay attention to. Thanks! I’m glad that this didn’t say “don’t run hard” but find balance instead

  43. I run 5 days, one non-run cardio day, and then Sunday is a “rest” day…which always ends up with a hike 🙂 I try not to run more than 3 days in a row if my schedule allows. Lately, however, I have been feeling tired and stiff…but I think that could be chocked up to adding weight training back into the list of “to-dos” and bouldering.

  44. I always schedule at least one full rest day and one cross-training day into my weekly schedule. I’ve found I just get to sore and worn out if I run more than 4-5 days in a row.

  45. I have rest days during the week when I’m training…but now that I just finished a big race I know I need to rest but I don’t know how long I should rest for and such. Usually I just follow my body…I could definitely use more pointers!!!!

  46. I’m sitting here with a heating pad on my calf recovering right now. What an apt time to read this. I’m training for my first half and trying to keep up with all the training and cross training, but have taken an extra rest day than prescribed. I’m all for rest/recovery days, but at the same time I worry that if I don’t follow the plan closely enough that I won’t be able to succeed (read finish the race) when the time comes. I’m the type of person that hates to be unprepared, so I’m trying to find balance, but right now I think my body would disagree.

  47. I run an average of one marathon a month. In between marathons, I try to sneak in extra naps (child permitting), cross-train in place of run workouts, and keep my diet as clean as possible. Mostly, I just listen to my body and heed the need to rest in order to get the results I need, both at home and on race day.

  48. Lately, I have been very relaxed with my training and have only been running 3 or 4 times a week on non-consecutive days. (Although at the moment, I have no races on the calendar, and the busyness of my non-running life has taken over and somewhat dictated this.) I find myself doing more yoga on my non-running days as well as having days of complete (exercise) rest.

  49. You know I never gave a thought to recovery until I got injured. Now I cant get enough information about it-this book facinates me! I eat right away after a run and now only run every otehr day and cross train the other days. Hardly ever a day off. I just havent got there mentally yet. But I do ice and use compression socks and have come a long way from my 70 mile run or die weeks! But I know I still have a lot to learn.

  50. I only ever run 5 days per week and try really hard to have yoga days to keep limber and strong. It is hard and I do find that as I get busy it is the stretching, rolling, and strength that end up suffering.

  51. Thanks for the info!! I have been sooo tired latley and now I know why. I have 3 kid’s run at least four day’s a week (no less than five miles) and cross train two day’s on the elliptical for 45 min. to an hour. Just ran a half marathon in April and never gave my body a chance to recover I guess. I’ve tried yoga in the recent past and loved it, but just never got that feeling like you have after a good run…stinky and sweaty, lol.:)

  52. I’m just starting Week 12 of a 15 week training program to run a half marathon in the middle of June. The “novice training program” does smaller runs, but more throughout the week. So far, so good. The runs vary in mileage and intensity like today’s “easy 4 miler” after yesterdays’ 5 mile hard effort. I try to make sure those “easy” runs as stated on my schedule stay easy – but I’m starting to see my times and my endurance improve, and it is just so hard to slow down on my easy runs. I struggled early on in the program to listen to my body since this is the first half marathon I’m training to run – and I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, so I’m not really sure what my body is capable of. I’m at the point now where I can usually pick up when I need to take a day off, and if it happens, like it did this weekend, unintentionally, then I embrace it.

    This whole process has such a steep learning curve, but in the end, running and training for this half has given me better appreciation for my body and what I can achieve.

  53. I always feel like if I take more than 2 days off I will backslide, not improve. This idea of recovery is a foreign concept but one I think I need to learn more about! Honestly the only time I take to rest is when I’m sick or injured and it makes me stir crazy!

  54. I often get a bit freaked out by resting, mostly because I’m afraid I’m going to fall off the work0out wagon and go back to my sedentary self of two years ago. This blog was super helpful and I’m looking forward to Sage’s book. I’m current in between two hard racing weekends and I think I better get myself to bed!

  55. Part 2 — recovery is a mental battle. It’s a challenge to remember that it’s ok to rest and not be out there training and improving.

  56. I was just thinking this week that I probably need to do a better job at rest days. But I’m a new runner and my mileage isn’t that high, and frankly, I’m afraid of losing steam. I’m betting that I need to read this to make sure I don’t overdo it and really lose momentum! Thanks for the giveaway!

  57. This article is so timely for me. I’m recovering from a race and giving my poor IT bands a break. I think Sage is my new idol.

  58. I have recently started being more diligent about my post-workout nutrition and trying to get into bed earlier. It is just so hard. Being a SAHM to 5 and homeschooling them, I only have the night hours to get things done. My running/workouts are so important to my maintaining my sanity. I know I don’t take nearly enough rest days. Honestly, I hardly take any. Even then it is usually for reasons beyond my control and not a planned course of action.

  59. What a fabulous interview. I have always tried to think about recovery time. I am very happy that I chose to follow a cross training plan to prepare for my first 1/2 in Sept. It has been just the right balance of rest/recovery for me in addition to making time for me to still teach Jazzercise as well.

  60. I don’t right after my run because my day starts, but I have been trying to give myself a bedtime. Especially the night before a run I go to bed at the same time as my kids or by 9:30pm at the latest…9:00 is the goal. It does really help. BUT I love Sage’s suggestion of adding that time by the amount you run in the week. Great rule of thumb.

  61. I am a Christian/Buddhist. So I do believe in doing yoga and meditation. I often do this before my runs to stretch out. It is a way for me to help my body be prepared and focused. I do believe in recovery. I listen to what my body says. I am not in running for the competition, unless it is my own personal competition against myself and setting a PR. I am in it for the stress relief and incredible feeling it gives me, so I try to take rests when I need them.

  62. I haven’t been, more by accident than anything else. That said, “recovery” has been forced on me this week as I managed to get both an ear infection and strep throat only a week before the Bolder Boulder 10K. Must. get. better before then, so I’m trying to nap and take it easy.

  63. When do you become an ‘athlete’ who needs to recover?

    I try to run (emphasis on try), but my miles are nothing compared to what is often mentioned here, not sure there is anything to recover from!

    Maybe that is something for the new book – help to know when the new hobby is serious enough to justify foam rollers, compression socks and knee sleeves. Seriously, when you are out here running with the cows how do you know when a little running turns into your (serious, make-room-in-the-budget) sport?

  64. I ALWAYS make an effort for recovery, even if it means skipping cross-training. Maybe because I was older when I started running?

  65. I have been forcing myself to go to yoga, and it’s been awesome. Sometimes I find myself saying “I’m too busy to go tonight,” which reminds me of how much I NEED to go that night. I don’t slow down well, but I’m working on it!

  66. I am praising God that this week is one of my recovery weeks for my tri training! By the end of last week, I could really see my progress slipping. I have even started working my schedule so that I have two rest days in a row instead of interspersing them during the week. That way I get more time for family, and I get the rest my body needs.

  67. I started running last year and very quickly discovered that my body was just not going to respond well without built-in recovery time. Despite my very type-A, “get it done” mentality, I know that my 44 year-old legs thank me for the recovery days — they’re as important as my running days to my overall training!

  68. I don’t have a specific plan – I just do what my body tells me. After a run, I usually crave fruit so I eat some. If I feel tired after a long run/workout, I’ll turn in a little early. I just try not to overthink it 🙂

  69. My mind knows I need to recover, but my type A personality has a really hard time accepting it. I am getting better at it, especially when I see it pay off with easier running and fewer injuries. I still have to quiet that little voice inside, though, that says, “you’ll fall behind if you don’t push, push, push.”

  70. In the past I always thought I didn’t have time. Now that I’m a mom and my time is even more limited, I’m realizing how much more important making time for recovery is if I want to maximize the time I do have for running. While my routine does need work, I’m noticing a big difference by trying to make time for the foam roller, stretches, and even an occasional massage.

  71. The older I get, the more I realize I NEED to make time and put some effort into recovery. It’s hard though, because when I’m pressed for time (always, just like everyone) I’d rather spend the time running than stretching, etc. I’m trying to do better!

  72. I think I do a pretty good job at recovery. I only run 3 days a week most of the time, and almost never on back to back days, so I’ll have time to recover between runs. I try to take care of my legs and hope they’ll take care of me come race day!

  73. I following a training plan with 2 rest days a week and stretch a little bit after, however, I know I could be doing so much more for recovery.

  74. I don’t run far like many of you, only 3-4 miles 3 days a week on the treadmill. I don’t think of myself as needing any kind of “recovery”… not sure what I need, I sure am not feeling it lately.

  75. I echo the foibles of the other comments: too little rest, too driven to PR, eating garbage, and only truly resting when injury commands it! I love the thought that recovery days truly require a leap of faith. Now, hopefully this book can share tips on how to not be grouchy or irritable on “off” days!

  76. With only 5 weeks between my first full marathon (Big Sur-HARD!) and my next half marathon (June 5), I really struggled with “how much do I run vs rest?” I wanted to make the best choice so I could recover but not lose any of that hard fought fitness. I have gone against my nature this past few weeks, and talked myself out of “cramming” for this next race believing that if I do cram, I will get injured or have tired legs for the half, and who likes to run on those?!

  77. The concept of scheduling recommended recovery time is something I struggle with. As a long time distance runner turned swimmer, I grew up with the notion of training volume as a central training strategy. As I get older, I am learning the value of rest and recovery. It is an ongoing journey!

  78. My body is VERY good about letting me know when it needs a rest day. And I’ve learned that when my body talks, I listen!

  79. I definitely take rest days but aside from “resting” I am not as diligent about foam rolling/stretching as perhaps I should be.

    I am DEFINITELY not getting enough sleep, and it’s not because I have a baby (she’s almost 4!). I just don’t have enough time in the day to do all that I want to do!

  80. Recovery days scare me because I really, really like them and fear I won’t go back to active days. But, I do need to work on getting more sleep – if I do that, I think that recovery days won’t be so attractive as I’ll be overall more rested and in a better mood – then everything will improve.

  81. I used to think that the only way to become a better runner was to run, run, run. As I get older and my time and energy are more limited, I’ve realized that cross-training and rest are crucial elements to my running repertoire. Both have improved my running. Today while I was teaching my students about the Dust Bowl and how the farmers overused the land, I made the comparison to running and why it’s important to not overuse our bodies, too. Thanks to Sage for the great teaching idea!

  82. I’m starting to concentrate more on this, and I’m starting with sleep. I’m not so Type A that this is difficult for me. It’s just hard to go to bed early enough when you don’t get enough downtime w/o the kids at other times…

  83. Considering I recovered from the birth of my third baby at home while also taking care of two toddlers and there are days when I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself, recovering is a relative term. As a mother and runner, I definitely need to take better care of myself.

  84. I struggle with recovery. Pre-event, I always look forward to the down time, but post-event I totally agree with Sage’s comment above. It is hard to do for us Type A people (Ok, I am more of a Type A-) but I have learned that my body needs recovery both physically and mentally. The break helps with the marathon burnout I face during training.

  85. I make an effort at recovery for sure. Foam rolling, gentle yoga, easy low mileage days. Now sleep….that’s a different story. I long for the days when I really do get 8 hours a night, and no longer call 6 hours, a good night’s sleep!

  86. Oh I recover baby! When I work really hard I make sure to totally rest and pamper myself. Sometimes I feel like it is really being lazy, but now I can see it as recovering. If I don’t, my legs feel like they weigh 100lbs. I need several days off each week to recover, and I never fail to take them!

  87. I am more of the philosophy that if I try to work out everyday, the days that I miss are “rest days.” I’ve never had a training schedule, either. I try to vary my workouts throughout the week (you should see the pie chart & spreadsheet of my workouts that I made for a project once) to incorporate different activities including yoga. But I fear that if I spend too much time focusing on recovering, I won’t have time to move in the first place.

  88. I do allow for recovery. Being that I started this running thing well into my 40’s and I wasn’t particularly fit, the only way I can keep at it is get tons of rest and not run two days in a row.

  89. I make it a conscious effort to take it easy for 3 weeks after a marathon. The sleep bit is more difficult especailly as a menopausal woman. I need that book that will help with the resting/sleeping phase of recovery 🙂

  90. Recovery to me is making sure I do not run too many days in a row and really work hard at getting enough sleep. I really focus on getting at least 7 hours a night, but I like the add a minute for each mile run during the week. That is a good goal to shoot for.

  91. I found Sage while recovering from a running injury. Her advice has changed my whole outlook on training. I will be forever grateful.

  92. I make an effort to take one rest day a week, which is usually Saturday since this is the day we are just to busy as a family to fit it in. Of course my rest day usually includes yard work, house cleaning, laundry etc. I do take rest days from running throughout the week and do other activities at the YMCA those days so I am using different muscles.

  93. I have a formal rest day each week after my long run, and an “informal workout” day prior to, which typically means, although no running or weights, I’m still doing yardwork, cleaning the house, stuff like that.
    I should probably read this book, since I just did a 1/2 marathon yesterday, and am planning to attack the rest of this week like any other week because I’m convinced that it was just another long weekend run…

  94. I pushed it this spring, with 2 half’s within 7 weeks, major speed work, combined with very busy work schedule, and a husband fighting health battles. Needless to say, my second 1/2 did not go as I (nor my coach) had predicted. Looking back, I know I was emotionally spent and I just didn’t have the mental strength in me to push through the second 1/2 of the race. Having cut back my miles (30 to under 20), replaced one of my running days with a cross training (swim or spin), and getting more sleep, I now feel like running is easier. I also have 2 rest days per week, and more look forward to the early morning runs rather than dreading them. Also, I’ve got no races longer than a 10K for the next 4 months.

  95. The only conscious thing I do for recovery is have one planned rest day a week. But I have 4 kids with the youngest only being 14 months and still not sleeping through the night so I do get more than the 1 rest day a week- the others just happen from needing to sleep in and having too many soccer games to get to.

  96. More yoga less of everything else the I add things back in but keep the yoga, even if it’s just 10 minute a day. I am training for a half ironman and the weather has not be helpful (hello rain for the past two weeks) so it’s been hard to plan anything never mind rest days

  97. Whenever I’m having a hard time, I take a step back and focus on what I eat, drinking at least 3 liters of water a day and getting to bed by 10pm…a few days later, voila! Rest is so important and i think that even without exercise, we as moms forget to take that rest for ourselves. Running makes it that much more important!

  98. I am getting better at trying to work recovery into my exercise plan. One thing that I am struggling with lately is the influence of non-training factors increasing the need for recovery: things like sleepless nights spent with kids, working extra hours at work, super busy kid activity schedule etc. etc.

  99. I’m so guilty of not getting enough rest. The only time I am able to really embrace rest is the taper week before a race. I am actually able to stop and focus on how I’m feeling. I’ll put my feet up and actively ask myself how my legs are feeling. I focus on my body starting from my toes and do a mental checklist as I move up. This can often take up to an hour and the checklist gives me the ability to determine what resting will look like to me that day. Now if I can only commit to doing this on a more regular basis.

  100. My recovery is usually taking a day and it is never planned – usually due to family responsibilities. It would be nice to be more thoughtful/efficient/effective in my recovery.

  101. I schedule a rest day every Friday. I then try very hard to listen to my body (and mind) so when I feel a bit run down I add an extra day in. If not, I become a walking zombie and not good to my family.

  102. I am not very good at recovery. I think it is mostly because I don’t look at what I am doing as a big deal. I don’t quite see myself as an athlete, so what do I need to recover from. I think it is a mentality thing. I need to remind myself that running 20 miles a week, plus cross training and just being a mom to 3 kiddos is a LOT of work, and we all need to rest!

  103. I think I may be on a “recovery” road right now. Hip pain + extra house projects = slowest run in recent history this morning. I’m trying to embrace it and make the most of the down time.

  104. I am really bad at recovery. I am a “never miss a day running” momma. I have not missed a day since a huge snowstorm a couple of years ago when we had no power so I could not run on the treadmill and the roads were impassable, so I could not run outside. I need to change my mindset. I would love to read this book!

  105. I really need to take more time for sleeping. No doubt about it. I’ve also had to skip my yoga class for quite a few weeks due to all of those “mom commitments” that pop up. Of course it’s during my Tuesday morning yoga class! As a mom, I find that it’s really difficult to take time for me and I know that I need to try and make that more of a priority without tacking on guilt for feeling like I”m taking something away from my kids.

  106. For this Type A personality mom, taking time for recovery never seems to happen. I know there are weeks when I do too much – my body is not shy about letting me know! I think I’m afraid to actually schedule recovery time, since it has taken me so long to establish my running routine. It would be very hard for me to follow Sage’s advice and “take that leap of faith” that less is more, although I’m sure my body would appreciate it!

  107. I try to have a day or two of recovery per week… but sometimes it’s hard when life is calling. I need to make sure I do a better job!

  108. I have been trying to do better with recovery, especially the nutrition part of it, but I have a long way to go!

  109. I’m definitely learning that my body needs it. I’ve only been running a year and so I kept pushing myself for more. I learned the hard way with some IT issues that had me sidelined for a bit. Even now though I want to run 4 days a week but my body screams back at me and I feel better if I add in more rest days. I am hoping I can add more easy days or easy cross training and my muscles won’t be so sore. I wish there were 8 days in a week for an every other day off!

  110. I have the Athlete’s Guide to Yoga & use Sage’s podcasts on lunges, IT Band & pigeon every week! Now, you’ve got me interested in compression socks too!

    I would luv to read your book on recovery! Keep up the awesome work Sage!

  111. Rest is definitely in my vocabulary. My son wears on me a bit in the lack of sleep department so I have to have rest time after big events or workouts because my body definitely does not get enough recovery with sleeping at night.

  112. Lack of rest, recovery and a plan had left me injured and sidelined. Once recovered, I pushed again and have re-injured. At 40, you’d think I’d know better. I’ll be buying this book if I’m not one of the lucky winners!

  113. I have tried to stick to two days of full athletic rest – and she’s right, as tired a mom as I am, it’s still really hard to do that. But I do think it’s a huge difference. The thing I need to work on is getting enough sleep. 7 – 9 hours sounds like bliss!

  114. I definitely use recovery days to my advantage! I have a yoga class scheduled every single week, and tend to arrange hard workouts around that. My running partners say, “Hey, let’s run on Thursday morning!” and I say, “Nope: yoga!”

  115. I never really paid attention to recovery, until my IT band problems. It was then that I gained the knowledge that recovery is just as important as anything else running-related. Since then my foam roller and yoga have become my best friends!

  116. Recovery is not something I do well. I hate that feeling of doing nothing (I know, I know… recovery is NOT nothing). I always feel guilty having a day of rest, because in my mind I could be out there getting a few more miles in. But since I became pregnant, I can totally get behind recovery. I know that my body is working constantly, and I add pressure by walking 10-15 miles a week. So I consciously make a decision to take the day off. I took this past week off because I was feeling stressed and drained. I think now, once I get back to running, I’ll be able to take time to recover GUILT FREE!

  117. My recovery is usually just taking a day off, but I would love to know how to make my recovery more effective. What a great interview!

  118. I love the yoga videos she has on the Runner’s World website! I will certainly have to check out her new book as well! Thanks!

  119. Short races equate to shorter recovery time.
    Running every other day has helped me with soreness.
    Mmm, chocolate milk after running.
    Sleep is GOOD.
    Thanks for the reminder, the book and yoga DVD sound great.

  120. Yes, I always make time for recovery. My first marathon coach reminded us often that you don’t get strong while running, you get strong while you’re resting AFTER running.

  121. I don’t know that my effort is conscious but I do recover! I’m not a Type-A runner (although I am a Type-A person). I like running but you won’t find me out there any more than 4 days a week. And after a half, I’m ready for a week of R&R.

  122. I usually let the hectic schedule of my life build in my recovery, but I can tell when I don’t get enough. I would like to be more systematic about it.

  123. I try to eat a snack after 90 minute workouts but often forget. In general, I have to try harder to recover than the actually workout. Which I find strange, but after reading this post, apparently it’s normal. I think I will try harder now!

  124. I do make a conscious effort at recovery (I don’t do hard days back-to-back), but I know I could be a lot better about it (better nutrition, more sleep).

  125. I’m still in the learning phase of training but so many athletes talk about the importance of recovery I would have to be a complete moron not to at least try to schedule it (and I’m not one). Thanks for all of the links!

  126. I learned after getting hurt over and over that I can’t run 2 days in a row. I usually do boot camp or weights in between running days. When training for my first half, I ran Tues, Thursdays and Saturdays. The guy at the running store told me- you HAVE to run at least 20 minutes a day when you’re training. My 40 year old knees beg to differ. The 3 days/week run 3 days other, 1 rest day- worked great for me.

  127. Since I’m a relatively new runner and in the masters category I figure the best way to stay injury free and enjoy this new hobby I better not “wear it out” even if I am type A. So my general rule is to only run every other day or at least 36 hours apart and only do one long run a week. And I’m only planning on doing one or two 10 mile runs before my first half. I learned the importance of tapering before a big event while being a competitive swimmer in my youth; a training habit I’ll bring into my new sport, running.

  128. I need to be much better at giving myself recovery. But I usually at least have one total day of work. Sounds like a great book! I would love to read it.
    PS can’t wait to hear what you thought of Ogden. I hope it went well for you!

  129. I try my hardest to “schedule” recovery days….but with our schedule at home being so crazy, I’ve got to get my workouts in when I can. Recovery days do happen, but I tend to feel guilty about them, and I need to change that mentality!

  130. I schedule recovery days into my training plan or I tend to not think about them. I have definitely noticed that my performance is better when I have those recovery days. Sometimes it’s hard to think like that, but it’s definitely good for your body.

  131. I started running a year and a half ago when I was 44 so I soon realized how much my body needs recovery time. I had to take 2 months off after a hip flexor injury and I don’t want to do that again! I try not to run two days in a row and I have been doing exercises to strengthen my core.

  132. I love the timing of this! I’m due to start marathon training next week and have been playing around with the schedule, moving easy runs and pace runs around so I can still keep my pilates schedule. And trying to figure out how important the timing of my rest day is or even making sure I get a pure rest day. And shouldn’t I rest before I really really need it? Isn’t that the point? Don’t want to get injured….

  133. I think I need to read this book. I’m up early to go to bootcamp class, despite the fact that I totally emptied the tank yesterday and have a recurrent back injury. So, no, I guess it’s not in my schedule. I’ll schedule a taper, but that’s about it.

  134. Hmmm … I think I need to read this book. I’m up early to go to bootcamp class, despite the fact that I totally emptied the tank yesterday and have a recurrent back injury. So, no, I guess it’s not in my schedule. I’ll schedule a taper, but that’s about it.

  135. Yes! My rest/recovery days are Friday and Sunday. Friday – the day before my long run and Sunday because I have tons of stuff to do on the weekends. Sleep is unfortunately lacking with 2 young kids and working 2 jobs.

  136. I felt this morning like this was written for me. I do get enough sleep, including the extra 30ish for mileage that I didn’t know I needed. I also take days off and cross train. BUT, I am terrible at lighter training weeks and REALLY terrible at post-run recovery…when I get back I always hit the ground running (the other kind). I am now in forced time off due to a virus going through our house — maybe it will be good for my running?

  137. I make an effort to always have at least one recovery day per week while training. After running a half or full marathon, the first week afterwards is easy for me to take naps or go to bed early for recovery and not run. It’s the second week when my mind starts messing with me and I really want to start up a new training schedule again. This second week is when I start becoming grumpy, so I do light yoga, jog a couple of miles here and there, bike lightly, or use the elliptical machine.

  138. This post is uncannily timely for me! I don’t run all that much compared to “serious” mom runners, but I’ve been upping my mileage and working on long runs for awhile now, and try to do about 22 miles/week–which is a lot for me, especially given some health issues I have. Last week I ran a lot and when yesterday came–a day when I’d normally do a 7.5 mile long run and maybe some strength too–I just was not feeling it. I could sense that I needed a rest day. I skipped all exercise, which I still feel was right for my body, but I did feel guilty about it. So I guess I do listen to my body, but struggle with the mental/emotional aspect.

  139. I did not recover well after my marathon in November and spent all of January, Feb and March on the couch…very frustrating when you are running all of the time. (let’s just say that my family didn’t like me very much) I am better now, back to running and trying to concentrate on my two days off a week and embracing them rather than beating myself up about them.

  140. I am pretty religious about not running two days in a row. I might go to a yoga class on the off day, but I will not run. Even if that means I’m missing a day of beautiful weather, which has been few and far between in New England this “spring.”

  141. Sigh. I did not make time for recovery. Now I have a stress fracture (enough that the ortho proclaimed it “impressive”) and most likely a meniscus injury as well. All my race plans for the fall are gone. The pain is one thing, but the mental frustration is worse.

  142. Sleep is critical to my performance, mood and even appearance ( to the degree that I care about that). And I secretly enjoy that week or two after a marathon where I can feel good about stepping back.

  143. Recovery is essential. I build it into my training schedule. It is hard some days But I know it is worth it. I have seen the results if not listening to my body and medical professions (injury took longer than planned to heal as I was too eager to get back and didn’t rest enough). I have also seen the benefits of resting and allowing my body to heal(a new PR). It is not easy as we are creatures of habit but it is so worth it!

  144. I make a schedule and include recovery so I will stick to it. If it’s not in the plan, I tend to forget recovery and it’s benefits.

  145. After having to sit out a planned marathon in the fall because of an injury, I finally got the message and cut way back on my mileage this spring. For the first time since I started running three years ago, I went about ten weeks with less than 20 miles a week. I’m just now building my mileage back up and dreaming of a half in the fall. I could definitely do better with my sleeping, though–I’m going to take Sage’s wise advice to heart.

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