Runner’s Restoration: Mastering the Art of Rest and Recovery – PART 1

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Happy World Sleep Day!

Whether you are brand new to running (welcome all you new runners, we see you!) or you are an experienced runner with consistent training blocks, focusing on the importance of rest and recovery in running is essential. Rest and recovery, including a good night’s sleep, is a vital component that often gets overlooked in the pursuit of performance gains. Welcome to a four-part series, highlighting different aspects of rest and recovery. We hope you kick back, put your feet up and learn a thing or two while reading this series called: Runner’s Restoration: Mastering the Art of Rest and Recovery!

As runners, we often focus intensely on the training aspect of our sport – the mileage, the speed work, the long runs. However, what many of us overlook is the critical role that rest and recovery play in our overall performance and well-being. In today’s blog post, we’ll delve into the physiology of recovery in running, shedding light on what happens in our bodies during rest periods and why it’s just as important as hitting the pavement or trails. Many of you are just beginning, or perhaps in the middle of your training for one of the distances at the Servus Calgary Marathon Race Weekend. As excitement builds, so does the training intensity but we hope you’ll join us (the race directors who are also preparing for the big day!) and lean into rest and recovery.


One of the most significant physiological processes that occur during recovery is muscle repair and rebuilding. When we run, especially during intense workouts or long Sunday runs around the reservoir, we subject our muscles to stress and micro-tears. It’s during rest periods that the body initiates the repair process, where damaged muscle fibers are repaired and strengthened. This repair process is crucial for muscle growth and adaptation, allowing us to become stronger and more resilient runners over time.


Sleep is often referred to as the body’s ultimate recovery tool, and for good reason. During sleep, the body undergoes a myriad of essential processes, including muscle repair, hormone regulation, and immune system strengthening. Inadequate sleep can impair these processes, leading to decreased athletic performance, increased risk of injury, and slower recovery times. As runners, prioritizing quality sleep is paramount to maximizing our recovery and optimizing our performance on the road or trail.


Overtraining syndrome occurs when the body is subjected to more training stress than it can adequately recover from, leading to a decline in performance and an increased risk of injury and illness. Incorporating rest periods into our training schedules is essential for preventing overtraining syndrome by allowing the body to recover and adapt to the stress of exercise. Without sufficient rest, we run the risk of burnout and diminished performance – a setback no runner wants to face.


Ultimately, the key takeaway from understanding the physiology of recovery in running is recognizing its profound impact on performance improvements. It’s during rest periods that our bodies have the opportunity to adapt to the demands of training, leading to gains in strength, endurance, and speed. By prioritizing recovery alongside our training efforts, we set ourselves up for long-term success as runners, achieving our goals and surpassing our limits.

TODAY’S KEY TAKEAWAY: Recovery is when the body adapts to the stress of exercise, repairs muscle tissue, and strengthens itself.

In conclusion, rest and recovery are not merely luxuries or optional components of our training; they are fundamental pillars of athletic success. By understanding the physiological processes behind recovery and the critical role it plays in our performance as runners, we can cultivate a more balanced and sustainable approach to training, ensuring that we continue to progress and thrive in our sport for years to come. So the next time you lace up your running shoes, remember: recovery is just as important as the miles you log on the road or trail.

We will be back next week with Part 2: The Psychological Benefits of Rest for Runners. Happy training!

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