The runner's training tool? Recovery!
Born in 1954, he was born in Caldine in the province of Florence. From the age of 16 he realised he was a runner - as he says - and has never stopped since then.
A lecturer at the CDL in Exercise Science at the University of Florence, since 1976 he has been involved in training runners. Today he collaborates with the magazine "Correre" and is the technical coordinator of the magazine "Runners World Italia", in which he publishes articles every month. He has been a FIDAL collaborator at a regional and national level. He is the owner of Training Consultant, a structure that deals with training consultancy for runners of all levels. For some years he has also been a writer.

Recovery, and sleep in particular, are training tools. It may sound strange, but they are. If there is no recovery there can be no adaptation; without adaptation, there can be no improvement in sporting performance.

It is difficult to get runners to understand the importance of recovery on the body because they always want to run, but once understood, the results are obvious.

In the field of recovery, the fundamental aspect is sleep: resting a certain number of hours and resting well is a rule that I try to teach my students because, through sleep, energy is recovered, glycogen stores are reconstituted and the protein synthesis, by means of GH growth hormone, which allows us to optimize training. 

The ideal scenario is to sleep at least 7 hours a night, but even having a nap lasting 15 minutes during the day can be useful as it allows you to recover your energy, especially when you train early in the morning or at lunchtime . If you have the chance, follow this ideal scenario which allows you to recover more efficiently and ultimately perform better in the race.

"Recovery also means managing your training load by having a few less intensive days of training or rest days after more intense workouts. You should therefore avoid the need to follow a demanding training regime on consecutive days."

It may seem absurd, but there are still runners who do repeats after a run and then wonder why they can’t perform and feel tired in the race. A comprehensively planned run is very tiring and needs at least 2 days to recover. Doing repeats the day after a run means dilating recovery times and therefore always being tired. Even repeats, if done carefully, and therefore not at a pace which is too fast, require two or three days to recover.

In addition, try not to schedule intense workouts in the evening after 6pm: catecholamines produced by training, especially if it is an intense workout, can cause a state of agitation that hinders the ability to fall asleep and, consequently, do not allow recovery from the training session.

If during the week the evenings are the only time you can dedicate to running, schedule intense training over the weekend, so you can manage it in the best possible way. The recovery strategy also includes cross-training strategies, that is other sporting activities other than running, such as for example cycling or swimming which is highly recommended, both in the "unloading" phase after a competition, and in the early stages of planning training.

Lastly, there are days when you can’t be bothered to train and you find yourself torn between that sense of duty that tells you to respect the program and the little voice inside your head telling you to leave your running shoes in their bag. What should you do? In these cases your body is sending you a clear signal, respect it and don't go running.

A day off can only do you the world of good! You must learn to manage the "addiction" effect of the race, which pushes you to run at all costs. In fact, let's not forget that recovery is synonymous with improvement for chronometric performance, but above all synonymous with feeling good, which is the real aim of those who practice sport at an amateur level.

Fulvio Massini - running consultant for training