Make Short Work Of Recovery
Limiting your rest periods may help you reap more benefits from some workouts
Limit your rest periods to get more from your workouts
FOLLOW ENOUGH TRAINING PLANS over the years and you’ll notice that some workouts appear far more often than others. These classics – 1200m repeats at 5K pace with 400m recovery jogs, for example, or tempo runs of three or four miles – are structured to provide a certain stimulus to your body and mind. In the case of the reps, the goal is to boost your VO2 max (how much oxygen you can deliver to muscles during fast running). Continuous tempo runs improve your physical and mental ability to sustain a ‘comfortably hard’ pace.
Tweaking these sessions usually results in a less effective workout. For example, you might think shorter rest between reps better simulates how you’ll feel in a 5K. That’s ‘a faulty premise, because too little recovery means you wind up using the wrong energy systems and muscle-fibre types’, says running coach and masters athlete Pete Magill. With inadequate recovery between reps, the workout will do less to improve your racereadiness, and you will end up more fatigued.
There are, however, some shortrest workouts that are highly effective. Some of these allow you to accumulate more work at the correct intensity. Others can provide the same stimulus as a harder workout with less wear and tear. Which kind of short-rest workout is best for you depends on which distance you’re targeting.