Running Tuesdays: Recovery That’s Right for You

by Michael Wilder

​When it comes to running, finding a way to recover in between runs is extremely important. Recovery allows your body to adjust, strengthen, or maintain your muscles. It sounds like a no brainer, but your muscles all over your body are the reason you can run. Muscles need time to rest in order to function correctly

​I’m currently in the process of running towards my goal of 1,000 miles in 2017. As of today I am 28% of the way (275 miles). With the extra miles I am running each week, my body has really felt it…way more than marathon training! ​For marathon training, the miles were short, short, and then really long. The two runs during the week were maintenance runs, while the one run on the weekend was a long run increasing distance to build up endurance. The following week was 3 short runs to preserve the progress. Basically, the week with 3 short runs were like a week “off” of running. It allowed my body to recover slowly to meet the next week’s increase of miles. ​Trying to reach my goal of 1,000 miles, I have pushed my body more than in the past. I need to run at least 20 miles a week to reach that goal. Knowing my future schedule and the hot Florida summer, I am “banking” miles as much as I can. Instead of going for 20 miles a week, I am reaching towards 30 miles a week. 

​With this increased mileage on my body and muscles, recovery is a must. Since I don’t have those “rest” weeks as I would during marathon training, I use the days in between to achieve rest. I only run 3 times a week with 2 days off between my “longer” weekend runs. I tried to run 4 to 5 times a week to achieve my goal, but my body and schedule did not groove with that plan. So I just run longer 3 times a week instead of running more frequently with shorter distances. This plan has been working for me for the last 2 months.

​Besides using rest days to aid recovery, I do yoga on the days I do rest. Like I said on another blog post, I am a big fan of runners and athletes doing yoga. Yoga stretches the muscles as well as focuses the mind. Yoga allows the muscles to release the tension and toxics that get built up from overusage. I try to do my yoga DVDs twice a week.

The last thing I do for recover is foam roll before bed every night. The benefits of foam rolling are to soothe tight, sore areas (known as “trigger points”) and speed up muscle recovery. The foam roller I have has a PVC pipe as its core so there is no bend or sag unlike ones that are just foam. Let’s just say to me foam rolling feels amazing but is a very awkward yet intimate experience.

​Having a plan of recovery for a runner is important, especially for me who is trying to achieve a high mile goal. The bottom line is you need to find and have a plan that fits you. It’s your body, your muscles, and your time. So do what feels best and right for you!

Running Tuesdays: Post-Surgery Cross Training

I’ve had two neck surgeries. The first one was in 2006 where one disc was fused. After that surgery I didn’t have to figure out what running looked like because I wasn’t a runner then. Running started for me a year later.

Once I started running it was like I found what I had been missing. Entering races helped me do what comes naturally, set goals and push for more. All that came to a stall again in 2014 when I had to have two more discs fused. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate even more the value of cross training.

But let me back up. I haven’t always valued cross training. In fact, I avoided it for several years. Very few things interested me without the movement of running. So I would kid myself that tennis, which I enjoyed, was sufficient cross training. And when other people told me their cross training habits, I just shook my head. “That’s not for me.”

So I dabbled. I’d swim occasionally. I’d occasionally utilize the gym by the pool where I lived. But I had to make myself. I dabbled for 4 years. 

Finally, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to getting under the 4:00 mark on my 2012 marathon. So I started working with a trainer at YouFit. We focused mostly on core and legs, which I immediately saw benefits. He also challenged me with plyometrics, which I loved. Result, met my goal with a 3:57 in Savannah.

Forward to 2014. Post surgery was not going as well as hoped, as far as seeing my neck handle running like the surgeon said it would. For a year I struggled. All I could successfully do was walk, which drove me crazy. At my year review in October 2015, the surgeon said he finally believed I should do physical therapy; he hadn’t thought I needed it immediately after surgery, but said maybe that’s the answer. He was right.

The simple strength building was exactly what I needed. It’s now another year later and I can’t imagine not doing these things now. And that includes other things I forced myself to do during my year of “what is going on?”  In that year of frustration my dabbling included swimming and learning the value of yoga for runners. 

Thanks to this time of learning these past two years, I have a reasonable cross training plan that works for me. Could it be more intense? Sure. Should it be? I’ll put it this way-if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Running Tuesdays: Cross Training Is a Must

by Michael Wilder

The first time I heard about Cross Training was in an article I read in Runner’s World Magazine. This article caught my eye because it was next to the article about what type of running shoe you need to have this year. Being a beginner runner, I read the article and then stored it away in my mind and left it there. I thought cross training was extra work you could put into your training. I was under the impression that running 3 days a week was good enough for my marathon training. Boy, how wrong was I in November 2013!

Around Thanksgiving, I ran the longest run so far in my training for my first marathon. It was about 18 miles, and all I remember was the pain I had in my right knee. I didn’t know why I had that pain, but it hurt and only Tylenol helped. After doing research about knee pain for runners, I had to ice it and take it easy for a couple of weeks. Right in the middle of my training for the marathon, I had to stop. I was depressed and worried! Even when I got back into running after a couple of weeks off, my knee still hurt. The truth is that even today my knee still bothers me. From my research I found out that my knee injury could have been prevented with cross training. With strength training and flexibility my knee would have been fine. But I didn’t cross train at that time. Now heading into my 3rd marathon you bet I cross train! I cross train to avoid injury and to help with my running.

My current schedule for cross training is twice a week, in between my runs. For example, I run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday/Saturday; I cross train Tuesday and Thursdays if time allows. I make my runs mandatory in the morning, but if I don’t get to my cross training until the evenings it’s not the end of the world. Anything I do beyond running is only a benefit. Doing something is better than not doing anything at all!

What I do for cross training is at-home strength training and yoga. I love doing yoga and encourage every runner to do yoga! Yoga helps me be flexible, speed up recovery, and promote breathing. I use a DVD that provides a variety of yoga poses. You can check it out here:

Cross training is a must for me! If you are a beginner runner, I suggest you start cross training now. If you are a runner who does it now and then, don’t worry about it. No matter what for all people, just go out and do something. Be active and stay healthy.