Body by Amy, LLC

How to Judge Workout Recovery

You're at the track. You've created a workout for yourself or for your athlete. It's an interval or a rep workout. But - you're not sure how much rest to give between reps. How do you decide on appropriate rest & what's the thought process to get there?

First of all, you have three rest options: standing, walking, or jogging. I verbalize standing as "full rest" to my athletes. I tend to use full rest more with faster intervals, and at the beginning of a training cycle or with a beginner runner. I actually lump walking into this same category, because in my opinion you should only be standing for a short time during your rest interval. You want to keep moving; you don't want to become stiff or allow the lactic acid to pool in your muscles while waiting for the next interval.

The second option, a jog rest, I typically give further into a training cycle, and to an athlete who is training for longer distances. The intention is to allow your heart rate to come down somewhat, but not too much because when you're training for a half or a full marathon your body needs to learn how to run well while tired.

Ok. Now that we've discussed types of rest and when to employ them, let's talk length of rest.

How do you know when to have your athlete rest for one minute or for five minutes?!

It all comes down to how far along your athlete is in their training cycle & what your goal is for that workout as their coach.

Let's say your athlete is at the very beginning of a marathon cycle. Even if you're having them execute a marathon-paced workout or a tempo run, you're probably not going to have their rest be as little as 30 seconds or 1 minute, because they're just not in that kind of shape yet. So, you might give them a 2 or 3 minute rest at the beginning of their cycle. By the end of their cycle, however, you're having them throw down mile repeats every 45 seconds - t0 - a minute!

Ok, now let's discuss workout goals and tempo vs. rep vs. interval vs. marathon vs. progression, etc. A progression run, marathon-paced workout, or tempo run will most likely involve less rest (if any) between individual intervals than an interval or rep workout. That's simply because you're not reaching your max aerobic capacity! The goals of these such workouts (improve lactate threshold, get comfortable with marathon pace, etc) are very different from the goals of an interval or rep workout. Let's say, for example, you give your athlete 3 x 800m at rep pace. This means that they're basically running these 800's all-out. In this case, you're probably going to give your athlete 5 or even 7 minutes of rest in between! Otherwise, they'll be unable to execute the workout, and thus the workout goal, properly.

Questions about any of the above? Feel free to shoot me an email at! And if you're searching for a running coach, let's chat!

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