My first run of the week is always the easiest. Every Monday, my schedule calls for a three-mile recovery run, somewhere around 10 minutes per mile. After my heavy weekend mileage, my legs feel like wet concrete. The pace is slow, but it's not a cake walk.
I almost feel silly. For the first few minutes, I'm like one of those bounding, ebullient runners you see and hate. You might even think I'm a jogger. You just want to scream at these people, "Wipe that stupid smirk off your face!"
But then I encounter a slight rise, a subtle hint of an incline that I wouldn't otherwise consider a hill if it weren't for the effort it takes for my legs to propel me upward. The dumb grin is gone and I'm up against it now. It's humbling.
I know you've read about this thing called "active recovery." You know how it's supposed to dispel the lactic acid from your muscles. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I have nothing more to add but the BHI-certified Slur of Approval.
However, there is still that feeling like I should be doing more miles, or at the very least I should be going faster. No matter how much I stumble through these slow miles, I get home feeling like I didn't do enough. That's when I bust out my big ball and mat.
After these recovery runs is when I cross train for the only time all week. I focus on simple core strength. Five minutes of as many sets of sit-ups and push-ups as I can. Last night, I did three sets of 10 each. All told, my exercise for the day equaled about 35 minutes, but I felt shaky and tired as if I just ran another long run. Only then did I feel the satisfaction of a good day's work.
Today I feel great.
My training plan for the Akron Marathon is the most intensive schedule I've ever run. The majority of my miles come Saturday and Sunday with one day of rest (usually) after my track session.
It seems counter intuitive that the answer to tired legs is more running. My advice is have a few adult beverages and you'll forget the meaning of "counter intuitive." Cheers.