Friday, August 28, 2009

Running Tip #11 - Introduction to workout types

Our bodies respond to training stress by being temporarily weakened, then growing back stronger, a process called supercompensation [1]. There are different ways of training that produce different training stress and result in different improvements. Training modifies different systems in the body, including cardiovascular, muscular, biomechanical, neurological and hormonal. This article gives a high level overview of the different training types; future articles will look at some of these in more detail.

Easy runs/recovery runs/junk miles

Many runners do the bulk of their miles in 'easy' runs. These runs are 'easy' in the sense that they are not so fast or so long that they push the limits of the runners ability. While there can be some benefit to this type of run, some coaches consider these runs as 'junk miles'. The runs are not fast enough to significantly improve aerobic capacity, maximal speed or endurance. There is little evidence to support the idea that an easy run on a rest day improves recovery [2, 3]. Adding an extra 20% distance at an easy pace (from 4 to 6 days/week) did not improve marathon times in a study [5,6].

Interval Training

Interval training is alternating high and low intensity exercise. The high intensity might be a slow jog for a beginner or a fast run for the more advanced. The low intensity might be a slower run, a walk or laying on the ground. I believe that interval training is the most important type of workout, for everyone from beginners to elite athletes. For beginners, it seems that there is a perception that interval training is in some way taking the easy way out, or that walking in a run means you are not a 'real runner'. Nothing could be further from the truth; real runners do interval training! Interval training is the most efficient ways of improving aerobic capacity and maximal speed. Interval training is also great in hot weather - the low intensity period allows for cooling off.

Long Run

Everyone has a limit on how far they can run. The long run is the key workout for increasing distance and is part of any reasonable marathon training plan. The distance that can be run is dramatically increased by taking walking breaks; you can go much further than with continuous running. Generally, a long run is at an easy pace, often well below the target race pace. However, a number of running plans include some type of higher paced running. I would advise most runners to have one run a week longer than the others. The length of the long run, how quickly to build it up, etc, will be the subject of another blog entry.


There is a lot of variety to hill training. It can be used with interval training, running hard up the hill and easy down to build fitness with lower impact. Running hard down the hill and easy back up again provides adaptation to prevent downhill muscle damage (more on that in a dedicated blog entry). Also a long run can be hilly to prepare for a long, hilly race.

Tempo Run

A tempo run is generally a run for 20 minutes at a pace that could be maintained for a maximum of an hour (83-88% VO2max) [4] . Jack Daniels claims tempo runs 'are one of the most productive types of training'. However, I have not found tempo runs to improve my fitness in the same way that other types of workout do, nor have I found any scientific evidence for the benefit of tempo runs over intervals. In fact, the evidence I have seen indicates that although tempo runs are better than no speed work, your time and effort are better spent on intervals.


Racing can be used as a form of training, and for some people this is their preferred way of improving their speed. I think that a longer race (marathon or longer) does too much damage to produce a fitness benefit.


[2] Neuromuscular fatigue and recovery in elite female soccer: effects of active recovery.

[3] Rest v Active Recovery

[4]Jack Daniel's Running Formula, 2nd Edition, pp 111

[5]Preparing For Your First Marathon

[6]Long slow distance training in novice marathoners

Monday, August 24, 2009

Running Tip #10 - Nutrition - Protein

Protein is one of the four main areas of nutrition, the others being carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients.

To understand protein, it is helpful to know some basic nutritional science. Protein is made up of amino acids [1]; there are 22 normal amino acids and 8 of them are called 'essential' because they have to be eaten as the body cannot produce them from other foods [2]. A food can be described as 'complete' if it contains a balance of the essential amino acids. Complete proteins are generally from animal sources - dairy and meat. However, you don't need to get all the amino acids from the same food to get a complete protein. Simply having beans and cereals in the diet will create the balance needed. (They don't need to be eaten in the same meal [4])

The human body as no 'store' of protein other than your muscles. There is some interesting research that indicates that having amino acids available as quickly as possible after training will improve muscle synthesis (and therefore recovery). The ideal approach seems to be to take raw amino acids, either before or after training [11]. as they are available more quickly than protein, but this is more expensive than protein. Whey protein is more easily digested (two hours) than other forms of protein, so this is the next best approach. Taking protein before exercise is best, but I for one can't tolerate much protein when running. Taking protein with fast carbohydrate (high Glycemic Index) can create an insulin spike that also helps muscle synthesis. So taking some Whey protein in Gatorade immediately after running should help recovery and muscle building. [5, 6]

What about sports drinks/gels that contain Protein? The evidence for protein consumption during exercise improving performance is somewhat mixed [9]. My suggestion would be to try it and see how you get on. You could use the commercial carbohydrate/protein drinks/gels, or you could make your own drink by adding protein powder to your current drink. The latter would give you the option of using a higher quality protein, or even an amino acid combination.

There is a lot of debate over the correct level of protein intake, especially for endurance athletes. However, my overall research indicates that 1.3-1.5 grams per kilogram body weight per day is about right for serious runners.

There is also debate over taking protein before sleeping. Most repair and recovery occurs at night, so having an adequate supply of protein seems like a good idea, but there are suggestions that it may interfere with sleep. There is also indications that while the essential amino acid tryptophan is vital for sleep, many sources of protein lack sufficient quantities [10]. Personally, I find that a scoop of protein in a glass of milk seems to help me sleep.

I take Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Whey, as it dissolves easily, is reasonably priced and seems to be good quality. The vanilla flavor tastes great mixed with Gatorade, or with milk and cocoa powder. They also have bulk amino acids for instance -


[2]Amino Acids

[3]Complete Protein

[4]Protein Combining

[5]protein metabolism

[6]Strength Training Diet

[7]Protein: how much do runners need?

[8]Runner's World - eat more protein,7120,s6-242-300--12554-0,00.html

[9]Energy drink: do protein shakes improve performance?

[10]waking up to the performance of sleep

[11]Branched chain amino acids prevent muscle protein breakdown but they don't boost performance

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Running Tip #9 - Blister Prevention & Socks

The most important job socks do is prevent blisters. I suffer from a skin condition ("non-Hallopeau-Siemens recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa") that makes my skin blister easily, so I have looked carefully at socks and tried a number of different types.

The unholy trinity of blisters

Three factors work together to cause blisters; heat, moisture and friction. Socks don't do much to reduce heat, but they do reduce friction and moisture.


Don't use cotton socks - cotton is one of the worst materials that you can choose for socks (or any athletic wear). I generally use Cool Max, which is a synthetic fiber that uses capillary action to spread out sweat so it evaporates better. There are many other synthetic materials on the market that also work well. Some people get on well with wool; I use wool socks for hiking in cool weather, but not for running. If you choose wool, get high quality merino Wool, such as 'smart wool'. I've tried Bamboo socks; they feel nicer than Cool Max when dry, but hold more water and dry more slowly. Some socks include silver as an antibacterial material, which helps reduce odor. This is great in socks where you can't wash them for days at a time (long backpacking trips), but for running it is not a big deal. If you have a problem with shoe odor, then silver based socks may help.


Modern construction techniques allow for seamless, or near seamless construction, which is useful, as seams often cause blisters. These construction techniques also allow for variable thickness socks; I've not found much benefit from this approach.


If you are wearing light weight racing shoes for a short distance race, then go for light weight socks. Otherwise, I would not worry too much about sock weight.

Compression Socks

I have not experimented extensively with compression socks. Compression over the calf does seem to help recovery, but compression on the foot itself causes me problems. Compressing the bones in the front of the foot (metatarsals) can put pressure on the nerves, and the nerves do not appreciate this (Morton's neuroma).


If you ever have a problem with blisters on your toes, try Injini socks. They have individual sections for each toe; they are like a glove for your feet instead of a mitten. They take a little getting used to as your toes are not used to being separated. Having adapted to Injinji, I really like them. They make both a normal thickness sock and a much thinner 'liner' sock. The liner can be hard to find; Zombie Runner is the only place I could find them. The liner sock is thin enough to allow them to be worn with other socks as well.

Double layer socks

The idea of double layer socks is that the extra layer of material reduces friction. The inner layer rubs on the outer layer, rather than rub on the skin of the foot. I like the Wrightsock dual layer socks. I generally wear their thinnest Cool Max sock, though I also have some of their thicker Silver based socks.

Injinji + Wrightsock

My favorite combination is to wear the Injinji liner sock with the thinnest Cool Max Wrightsock. This gives me toe protection and three layers of material. I find that this pairing is much better with blisters than any other option I've tried.

Tangent - Fit is critical

The most important issue with blisters is having shoes that fit correctly. The combination of socks I use allows me to swap for slightly thicker socks to tweak the fit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Running Tip #8 - Carbohydrates & Glycemic Index

Carbohydrates (carbs) are a key energy source for runners. The way carbs are used depends on the state you are in. If you are in the middle of exercise, these carbs tend to be used directly for energy. If you are at recovering from exercise, these carbs will go into quick access storage (glycogen). If your glycogen stores are full, then the carbs will tend to be stored as fat.

Some carbs are easily digested, with the fuel becoming ready for use quickly. These 'quick carbs' are great in the middle of a run, as the muscles (and brain) will start to burn them. If you are at rest, these quick carbs can raise the blood sugar levels quickly, causing a 'blood sugar spike'. The body reacts by producing insulin, which can overcompensate for the spike and result in a 'blood sugar crash'. Neither the spike nor the crash is good for you.

So what carbs are 'easily digested'? In some literature, quickly digested carbs are considered 'simple' and slow digesting carbs are 'complex', but this is not a useful division. The difference between simple and complex is based on the chemistry of the carb molecule - small molecules like sugar are 'simple' and big molecules like starch (bread, etc) are 'complex'. This division into simple and complex is unfortunately crap (biochemistry term meaning 'not useful').

The digestion of carbs is a sophisticated system that does not follow this simple division. Some simple carbs (Fructose) are very slow to digest, whereas some complex carbs (maltodextrin) are very easy to digest. The actual measure of digestibility of carbs is normally called 'Glycemic Index' (GI), which is how much the blood sugar rises when a food is eaten [1]. For instance, white bread (a 'complex' carb, GI 70) has a higher GI than table sugar (a 'simple' carb, GI 60). This is because highly refined flour in bread is more easily digested than table sugar (which is half fructose).

Understanding the GI of food is important to health. Spikes in blood sugar has been linked to Diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. As a runner, high GI food is great for taking in the middle of exercise or directly after. At other times, it's best to avoid high GI foods. The web site has a lot of nutritional information on many foods, and includes a 'glycemic load', which can be useful in choosing foods. The site has a database of GI values for food.

One of the factors limiting the use of GI in food labeling is that it has to be experimentally tested; it can't be measured based on the food due to the complexities of the human body. For instance sourdough bread has a lower GI than equivalent regular bread because the acidity in the sourdough bread slows digestion. Another example: the difference between white and most whole wheat bread is not significant.

Swapping high GI foods for low GI foods can be a very useful part of a weight loss program. A given number of calories of a high GI food will not keep us satiated as long as low GI. That means that eating a low GI food will stave off hunger for longer, causing us to eat less overall.

[1] Wikipedia - Glycemic Index

Recommended reading
'The New Glucose Revolution Complete Guide to Glycemic Index Values'

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running Tip #7 - Nutrition is important

There is an old saying that 'if the fire is hot enough, anything will burn'. The idea is that if you are doing enough exercise, you can eat whatever you like. It is true that if you are burning enough calories you can eat high calorie food without weight gain (if calories in = calories out). However, the body is a complex system, and there are countless studies that show the impact of nutrition on health. For instance, there is evidence that moving from Omega-6 to Omega-3 oils and boosting protein, Vitamin-C and Zinc intake can aid in recovery [1].

Running keeps you fitter and helps prevent illness, but it does not grant invulnerability. Eating wisely can make a difference to long term health and short term performance. This blog will have entries that will look at general nutrition as well running/exercise specific nutrition. You could divide nutrition into four types of nutrient; carbohydrates, fats, proteins and micronutrients. I will blog on these general areas, as well as specific foods and supplements.

Some useful sites for further reading -

[1] Sports injury: can you eat your way to recovery?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Running Tip #6 - Starting to run - walk before you can run

Important - if you have any concerns what so ever about exercise, talk to your doctor before starting. In fact, you should probably chat to your doctor anyway, just to be sure. An annual medical is important for your long term health, so that is a great opportunity to chat about exercise planning.

Not surprisingly, I'm a big fan of running as a way of keeping fit and healthy. But starting to run is not easy, and advice to 'just go out and run' can be counterproductive. Humans are built to run [1], but there is a level of fitness required before running is practical.

Start by walking. If you are unfit, walking can be sufficient training to raise your fitness. I would advise anyone who wants to run to be able to walk 2 miles in about 30 minutes before starting. This is based on the idea that walking is more efficient than running up to about 14 min/mile pace [2]. So running slower than 14 min/mile pace is unproductive; you are better off walking.

So, once you've reached the point of walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (or verified you can do it), what next? Introduce running gradually. Start off with two one minute runs in the 30 minutes - run 1, walk 14, run 1, walk 14 (2x1R:14W). Note: Keep the walking pace at 15 min/mile pace - that's a fast walk. Also, the running pace should be faster than the walking pace; not a sprint, but a little faster. As that becomes comfortable, gradually shift from walking to running - 2x2R:13W, 2x3R:12W etc. This will become 2x14R:1W. Dropping the last minute walk can be hard, and is not critical. You may prefer to extend the time rather than dropping the walk, so 3x14R:1W for instance for 45 minutes exercise.

What if you are not a runner, but quite fit? I would suggest that you start with the run/walk approach anyway. Your fitness should allow you to progress up the scale to 30 minutes of running quite quickly, while reducing the risk of injury. You could start with a different ratio (say 2x4R:11W) and progress more quickly (2x6R:9W, 2x8R:7W, etc) if you feel confident.

How often should you run? Is you may know from previous posts, I am a believer in 'less is more', recommending running four days per week. A lot will depend on your fitness level however. If you are reasonably fit and just adjusting to running, you may need to run more days per week, as the stress is not sufficient to require 48 hours recovery. Overall though, I would suggest you are better off running 4 days/week and raising the intensity of the runs rather than running more days.

How fast should you shift from walking to running? Listen to your body; if the level of stress is very low, then shifting to more running is good. Remember that shifting to running more quickly may increase your fitness more rapidly, but it will also increase the possibility of injury.

'Fatigue is cumulative'. One of the big problems in changing your exercise level is that fatigue is cumulative over much longer periods of time than you realize. The fatigue in your body can be the result of training you did 2-3 weeks ago. That means you can raise your level of exercise dramatically and keep it up for a week or two, then suffer some level of failure. One rule of thumb with marathon training is to only raise your mileage every two weeks. This can also apply to initial running as well; it is better to be cautious. As an example, I went from about 55 miles/week to 85 miles a week and I was fine for about a month. Then the cumulative fatigue caught up with me and I had to cut back down to about 65 miles per week. I've built it back up to 85 miles/week, but it's taken me about 10 months to truly adapt to the higher mileage.

Running puts stress on the body, and if you are too overweight, your body may not cope well with this additional stress. I suspect that being able to walk 2 miles in 30 minutes will be indicative of a body that can begin to run, but I could be wrong. If you are significantly overweight, you may be better off focusing on walking and weight loss before you start running.

[1] Running 'key to human evolution'

[2]Running Efficiency

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Running Tip #5 - Running and long term health

I have often been told that running is bad for you, as it will 'wear out the body'. This is a dangerous misconception. The human body is not a simple mechanical device like a car. With a car, the more you use it, the quicker it wears out. That's because a car is not alive; it does not heal itself. If you drive a car fast, the car does not adapt and become faster.

The human body is an adaptive system; if you work your body hard, the body becomes temporarily damaged, becomes heals back stronger and faster (supercompensation) [5]. If you do nothing with your body, the body also adapts, becoming able to do less. Anyone who has trained has seen the way their body changes. Anyone who has stopped training has also seen the opposite adaptation.

It is not only the muscles and cardiovascular system that adapt to training. The bones, tendons, ligaments, joint cartilage, hormonal system all adapt as well. The human joints are passively lubricated - if you don't exercise, the surfaces tend to dry out. The cartilage of the joint has no direct blood supply - it obtains what it needs from the fluid in the joint. Without movement of the joint, the cartilage does not get the nutrients it needs.

A Stanford study [3] followed 538 runners for 20 years, starting when they were over 50. Over the 20 years, the runners were half as likely to die (15% compared with 34%). The runners suffered fewer cardiovascular fatalities, as you would expect, but they also suffered less from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other fatalities.

The runners did get injured, but on average 16 years later than the non-runners. The gap between the runners and non-runners also got larger as time went on. Other studies have shown no link between running and Osteoarthritis [4, 6].

A Cautionary Note

The Stanford study started with runners in their 50s. It is reasonable to assume that a good proportion of those runners had been running for some years, which would tend to self select the healthiest, injury free people. Running can build up joint strength, but cannot compensate for previous traumatic injury. Exercise stress needs to be gradually applied; going from sedentary to trying to run a marathon without training is likely to result in injury. Likewise, starting to run while significantly overweight can stress joints beyond their ability to cope.

[1] Essentials of strength training and conditioning By Thomas R. Baechle, Roger W. Earle

[2]Cartilage injury in the athlete By Raffy Mirzayan

[3] Running slows the aging clock, Stanford researchers find

[4] Long Distance Running and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Prospective Study


[6]Does Long-Distance Running Cause Osteoarthritis?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Running Tip #4 - Running and weight loss

Running is a great way of staying fit and healthy. It also burns a lot of calories, so it can help in a weight loss program. Running burns more calories per mile than walking (about 0.75 calories/pound body weight running compared with 0.63 walking) [1]. Running also covers more miles in a given time than walking, so the rate of calorie burn for a given time is even higher. Great, eh?

Not so fast. The problem is that weight lost is about the balance of calories burned compared with calories consumed. Eat more than you burn to put on weight, Burn more than you eat to lose weight. That's the simple, if harsh, reality of weight loss. Everything else is about boosting the burn or limiting the intake. If you burn more calories, the body will tend to react with an increased appetite. I can run 100 miles a week and put on weight. I know this because it's happened.

As an aside, some people walk (lower intensity) rather than run (high intensity) because walking burns a higher percentage of the calories from fat. It sounds appealing, but there are two problems. Firstly, it is the total calories that count, not if they come from fat or carbohydrates [2]. Secondly, though walking burns a higher percentage of calories than running, in terms of the absolute number of calories from fat, running is higher [2].

If anyone is interested, I can post some tips on weight loss, which is sort of related to running. But the key take away is that diet is important to weight loss, even if you do more exercise.

[1]How many calories are you really burning?,7120,s6-242-304-311-8402-0,00.html

[2]Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Running Tip #3 - Gear Review - Under Armor Heat Gear

Many people think I am crazy for all sorts of reasons. One of the reasons is the subject of this blog entry - the Under Armor Heat Gear long sleeved top. Why would someone wear a long sleeved top (or any top at all) in hot weather? The key is how the body looses heat in exercise. In cool weather, convection can be a significant way of loosing heat, which is why we put on clothes to prevent this heat loss. In hot weather, the heat loss through convection is much less than through evaporation. The heat gear top works by spreading the sweat out over a wider area and letting it evaporate. Being a compression top, it is tight to the body, so the cooling effect is felt directly. (It's not really 'compression' as the material is too thin - it's just close fitting.) If sweat drips form the body, it's ability to cool you is very limited. The heat gear top is very thin and spreads the sweat out very well. I am cooler when running in hot weather with the heat gear top than running topless. The top does keep you very slightly warmer for the first few minutes, until the body starts sweating, but the top is so thin this is not a problem.
The heat gear top is also odor resistant and has a high UV factor. Being white is reflects the heat of direct sun as well. I suspect that when out of the sun, a dark top would work better, and I may try this out in the near future.
Any downsides to the top? Not many - it is so good at keeping you cool that you can chill quickly when you stop running. It is a compression top, so it reveals your body shape quite clearly, which might be a factor depending on your body image. The top is not cheap, but at $35 it is not outrageous. With the odor resistance, I have one top that I wear repeatedly and wash once a week or so. This is gear I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Race Report - Laurel Valley 35

Many (most?) ultras have a unique feature or challenge. The Laurel Valley is unusual in that the access points to the course are at the start and the finish only. This has a number of consequences:

- The race director, Claude Sinclair, wisely requires each competitor to finish a sub-13 hours 50 mile race and to act as a sweep the first time. The sweeps are the last people through the course, traveling as a group. The sweeps are an important safety measure.
- Once you start, you either have to finish or return to the beginning. This means a bad day at LV would be a very, very bad day.
- There is no aid on the course. You have to take everything you need with you. There is water from streams, but it requires purification.
- You can be very isolated on the course. Naturally you can run with someone, but if you are on your own, you can be on your own for a long time. You might not see another person for several hours, which leads to a wonderful and terrible sense of isolation. I loved being on my own for so long, but I also became quite worried that I had lost my way (I knew I had not, but fear gets worse when you are fatigued.)

The course is ~35 miles, but most people agree it feels like 50. My calorie burn equates to about 52 miles of energy expenditure on the flat. The course has some 3,000 steps, some of them very steep. (If you've run Crowder's mountain, the steps are similar.) However, most of the course is very runnable, with some lovely long, fast descents. I'm not sure what the altitude change is; my Polar claims ~6,300' ascent/5,800' descent, but the GPS claims 21,000' ascent/20,000' descent.

Navigation is not difficult, but you have to pay attention. The trail is well blazed, but there are a few junctions where things can be a little confusing. I took a Garmin GPS with me and recorded the trail, so you should able use this to give you confidence. (Never trust a GPS unit as the primary navigation technique, at LV or anywhere else.)

The GPS record of the run is available from and you can compare it to a picture of the Polar record at

LV is run in August in the Carolinas, so heat is obviously an issue. At the start, it was hot enough to reduce performance, making everything tougher and slower. By about 11am, the temperature was high enough to forcibly limit performance on the uphill sections. The uphil pace I could maintain was limited by the rise in my core temperature; I could feel my face begin to burn, and was forced to slow up. (If you ignore the warning signs, you can raise your core temperature too high, which can be life threatening. ) The Under Armor Heat Gear top really made a difference - more on that (and perhaps heat stroke) in a separate blog entry.

I had a good day at LV and I was able to push the pace hard, finishing second place in 6:38. The race requires you to be self reliant, and this builds self confidence. Having run this race inspires me to run other self supported distances in the future. The only downside has been a recurrence of the blisters I got at Massanutten. The nature of my skin is that damage creates permanent scars that are more easily damaged. My right ankle now has a large (2x1 inch) blister. I hope to be able to continue running with some cut down shoes. I will need to find different shoes (again) to see if I can find something that will not cause these problems. I am considering moving from a robust shoe (Montrail/Solomon) to something lightweight like the Nike Free Trail or the Inov8.

This race report is posted to Facebook at Blogger at and Tumblr at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Running Tip #2 - How often to run? (Hint - Less is more)

There is a natural human belief that if some is good, more is better. This idea is all too often false, and can very destructive with training. It is important to realize that running does not make you a better runner - it is the rest that follows running that makes you a better runner. So the key to effective training is to balance the training with the rest.

I have tried many different patterns of training and rest. I have found the most effective pattern for me is to run four days a week. These four days are all 'quality days'; I run for three hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then run four hours on Saturday. This gives me lots of long running, with enough rest to support that mileage.

The key to running four days a week is that every run is a quality run that requires rest to recover. I don’t run four days a week as a 'minimum I can get by' approach. This is being prepared to push the boundaries of my physical capabilities. I don't take extra days off to make things easier - I do it to make things harder. Running four days a week enables me to train on those four days much, much harder than I could if I trained more frequently. Currently I am focused purely on distance, but I have found the same thing when I am focused on speed as well; three interval training sessions and a long run works great.

My Friday/Saturday runs are the only time I run consecutive days. The idea is that I have not fully recovered from Friday when I do the Saturday run, so I am doing my longest run on tired legs. I do this because I cannot afford the time that it would take to run the distances that would otherwise be required. I consider Friday/Saturday to be a single training unit, though not as effective as the mileage would be if I could do it on a single day.

Running four days a week is tough. It is tough to run hard enough to need the 48 hours recovery. But it is also physiologically tough; taking three days off is not as easy as it seems. The feeling that I am not doing enough, or that my fitness will dissipate in 24 hours is corrosive. I find it hard not to do a trivial run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I do these trivial runs for psychological reasons. It's not the right thing to do, but we all have to battle our demons in our own way. (I am trying to give them up, honest!)

There are exceptions to this advice. If your running training is not hard enough to require 48 hours recovery, you will be better off running more often. If you are just starting to run, then running 5-6 days a week may work for you. If you are running for general fitness and not pushing your body to its limits, then running 5-6 days a week may work for you. If you are have DOMS, such as after a long race, more frequent runs may help. (I’ll write more on DOMS in a later entry.) However, I would always advise one full days rest each week.

Am I alone in my suggestion, or are there other plans that support the idea? Hal Higdon's Advanced II Marathon plan ( has 6 days of running, but two days are trivial. Jeff Galloway ( uses four days/week. The Runner's World beginners plan (,7120,s6-238-244--6946-2-3X5X7-4,00.html) is four days/week. (The RW intermediary & advanced are 5 days.) Jack Daniels (my favorite coach) defines just two work outs a week, and leaves it up to you how you fit in the other miles.

What about 'active recovery'? I've only found one scientific study [1, 2] and that indicates that active recovery does nothing to help. On the other hand, it does not indicate that active recovery does any damage either.

I have included few supporting references or scientific studies around training plans. There does not seem to be any evidence to support any given plan over another plan, just anecdotal experience (of which this is part.)

[1] Neuromuscular fatigue and recovery in elite female soccer: effects of active recovery.

[2] Rest v Active Recovery