Recovery, and sleep in particular, are real training tools. It may sound strange, but it’s true.
It should be acknowledged that runners are more often than not tired, not only because of their training program: everyday life along with work and family commitments are very important. In this case, proposing stressful training sessions such as repeats, half pace or tempo running would be really detrimental to their psycho-physical health. It is better to only do short training sessions, perhaps with a slight progression, if possible outdoors and in the company of runners who go at the same pace, without controlling the pace of the race but "listening to the music of your body". Doing repeats would increase stress levels and, in the case of performing below expectations, even frustration.
A fundamental part of training is the so-called "recovery management". Over the years the recovery time between the various training methods or between the competitions tends to expand: knowing how to manage this time is fundamental to obtain an optimal performance and to avoid injuries. At the age of 20, you can recover from a repeats training session in 48 hours, whilst at the age of 50, it takes 4-5 days or more.
An adequate recovery linked with the correct diet will also help to avoid leg pains. Erroneously associated with the accumulation of lactic acid (in reality very little is produced and this quantity is not enough to create pain Ed.), this pain is to be attributed in reality to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), a late muscular pain that is caused by microdistructions of the muscle fiber damaged during the race.
Therefore, as we said at the beginning, for us runners it is of fundamental importance to fully recover the psycho-physical energies. A good night's sleep is ideal for recharging glycogen reserves and then restoring energy reserves in the muscles. Furthermore, while we are sleeping, the growth hormone GH is also produced, which facilitates muscle recovery by promoting cell regeneration and growth (J. Weineck, 2009).
Personally, since last year I have been involved in the Dorelan ReActive project and I must say that having a technical tool available that allows real benefits to be achieved in the night recovery phase is undoubtedly an added value. Improving the quality of rest as well as improving the quality of life allows, in fact, an improvement in the quality of training sessions. Another aspect, by no means secondary, is the preventive function had when sleeping correctly.
Here’s some practical advice. Over the years, especially after the age of 50, it is normal to wake up during the night and this can cause more tiredness during the day, compromising the success of the race and encourage overtraining. Sleep can also be disturbed by training late in the evening and not followed by adequate nutrition: the main cause is to be found in the production of catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline) generated during training especially when working at high intensity. Other sleep disorders arise after travelling to countries with different time zones, so it would be ideal to arrive at the location of the race one day earlier for each hour of time difference. Whoever goes to run the Chicago marathon, where there are seven hours of time difference, should, for example, arrive in the city seven days beforehand to be sure of sleeping perfectly on the night before the marathon. In reality, there are few people who can afford such a trip: in this case taking melatonin can help. In these years, not only in those who make long plane journeys, but also in those who have normal sleep disorders, have achieved good results by doing abdominal breathing. So if you wake up during the night and can't sleep, don't panic, breathe deeply with your diaphragm and you will see that you fall asleep immediately. Finally, there is one rule that always applies.
If 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, in these cases your body is sending you a clear signal, respect it and don't go running.
by Fulvio Massini