Recovery debt…

One of the challenges I have is what I call recovery debt. I’ll explain.

A normal training-week looks like this. I run 5 days a week. Friday’s are my long run days as I don’t work and the kids go to school (8:30-15:00) so after dropping them off, I can run. The other four days are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunday during the day and the others in the evening usually after 20:00 with Monday after 21:00.

The build up

Let’s say I start running at 20:00 for a 1,5 hour run. I’m back at 21:30. I drink, eat a bit, and relax. Feet up, watching some Netflix or reading a book. After 1,5 hours (probably a bit earlier) my heart rate is between 60-70 bpm ( I have a ~51 average rest heart rate) and hopefully my adrenaline and endorphins and what have you, are loosing their influence on my body. I shower and am in bed by 23:30. I sleep for about 7 hours because I have to get up at 6:30 again (family and work).

Those 7 hours seem enough, but because my heart rate remains a bit elevated during part of my sleep, I don’t get 100% quality of sleep. I monitor my heart rate also during sleep and my resting heart rate at wake up might be 56 bpm instead of 51 bpm. During the day it goes down further to my average, so my body seems fully recovered before I run again.

I do this 3 days in a row and that means I built up a bit of recovery/sleep debt during those three days. I see this in my waking up average rest heart rate, but more importantly I feel slightly more and more tired every day. I can fully function, it’s not that bad, but I do feel it.

Of course I need to recover and I do. Thursday is a rest day. No running! I’m a bit tired during the day, but I try to get to bed earlier (no later than 22:00) and I can sleep until 6:30-7:00. That gives me ~9 hours of high quality sleep and I feel much better.

I do have to make sure the other days I rest as well and have good nights sleep, so no partying every day during the weekend. (As if I would by the way 😛 ).


Of course there are alternatives to this schedule, I can hear the following questions…

Q: Why don’t you run early in the morning before work? 

A: Although I’m a morning person, getting up at 4:00 to do a 2 hour run before work is a bit too much at this time. Furthermore I don’t want to wake up my wife as well, because she will have a broken night then.

Q: Why not run immediately after work?

A: Family time (my kids are 7 and 9) and I’m the cook at home. I sometimes can cook early on Tuesday, my wife and kids have dinner without me and I’m back to tuck in the kids. We can to this 1 day a week, sometimes.

Q: Why not reschedule your days so you don’t have three night runs in a row?

A: That’s because my wife has a life as well :). Furthermore, Saturday is the day my kids have games (field hockey) and I help out, so no running on Saturday. 

Remember, I’m the guy with the weird hobby not my family and in this way I try to minimise the impact they have of all my running.

My question(s) to you

How do you deal with scheduling, recovery, sleep etc. when having a full family life and work? What’s your challenge in this and how do you cope? Please tell me!

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