Three signs that you need more recovery time in your running programme
Updated: Jun 1
You probably know by now that recovery and rest are very important components of your training programme if you want to avoid overuse injuries like Achilles tendinopathy or tendonitis. But how do you know when your body has recovered enough? In this article, I discuss three signs that may mean that you need to take it easy for a while. Remember, if you need more help with an Achilles injury, you're welcome to consult one of our team via video call.
The terms tendinitis, tendonitis, tendinosis, and tendinopathy mean the same thing for all practical purposes, and we use these interchangeably in our articles.
In this article:
1.You’re still sore from the previous session
This is probably the clearest sign that your muscles haven’t fully recovered and repaired themselves after your previous training session. If you do another hard session when they’re not fully repaired yet, you’re placing yourself at risk of developing a proper injury.
Top tip: Trade your hard session for an easy run session or cross train by going swimming or cycling instead.
2. Tight muscles that won’t let up
I see this often in our clinic. Runners will complain that their muscles are staying tight and tense despite stretching and foam rolling the life out of them. Muscle tightness that doesn’t respond to a good stretch or foam rolling session can often be due to the muscles being overworked.
Quite a few of my Achilles tendinopathy patients also report that they had experienced several weeks where their calves were feeling extremely tight before their Achilles tendons became painful. Think of constantly tight calves as the canary in the mine shaft. Your tendons aren’t as polite as muscles. They don’t usually give much warning before they develop a tendinopathy.
Top tip: Listen to your muscles – if they don’t respond to stretching and foam rolling, add in more recovery days and dial down your training for a while.
3. Feeling constantly tired
Yes, it’s not just overtraining that can cause constant tiredness, but you are at a much higher risk of developing an injury if you train hard when you’re mentally or physically tired. Chronic stress has been shown to impair your ability to recover after training sessions. Ali explained this in more detail in her blog about lack of recovery causing Achilles injuries.
Top tip: If you fall into this category, make sure that you double up on sleep, address the other stressors in your life, and maybe reduce your training intensity for a while to include more relaxing workouts. The image below may help you decide what to do.
How we can help
Need more help with your Achilles injury? You’re welcome to consult one of the team at TMA online via video call for an assessment of your injury and a tailored treatment plan.
We're all UK Chartered Physiotherapists with Master’s Degrees related to Sports & Exercise Medicine. But at Treat My Achilles we don't just value qualifications; all of us also have a wealth of experience working with athletes across a broad variety of sports, ranging from recreationally active people to professional athletes. You can meet the team here.
About the Author:
Maryke Louw is a chartered physiotherapist and holds an MSc in Sports Injury Management. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Otter, R. T. A., et al. "A negative life event impairs psychosocial stress, recovery and running economy of runners." International Journal of Sports Medicine 37.03 (2016): 224-229.
Stults-Kolehmainen, Matthew A., John B. Bartholomew, and Rajita Sinha. "Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28.7 (2014): 2007-2017.