Failing at the “Easy Run”, A Post on Recovery

I came up with the idea for today’s blog post when trudging up a steep hill on yesterday’s run.

Yesterday it was about 90 degrees and muggy. Miserably muggy.  It was overcast and I was due for a run so I decided to attempt a LISS workout.

LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State, and it is basically any exercise that it performed at a low[er] intensity for an extended period.  We often hear how endurance work is  disadvantageous to weightless, this is where cult fitness has been lying to you.   After performing high intensity work consistently, our body needs to recover. LISS helps flush out the metabolic by-products from your previous intense workout.  When you get your blood pumping for an extended period you are able to deliver oxygen to  fatigued muscles. Taking part in a LISS and working your aerobic system after a high intensity session will help prep you for your next session by replacing ATP.  The takeaway here is that LISS workouts aid in recovery. 

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Snap Shots of My 6 Mile Loop

Back to my LISS workout.  I was going to do my usual 6 mile loop SLOWLY. It was hot and I was sore, so I thought it would be no problem. I started off channeling my inner chi runner and taking smaller strides, breathing deeply and easing into my run.  I was doing well with the LISS principal for about 1.5 miles when a hot shot (and shirtless) sweaty runner ran past me.  I grunted and made myself hold back, keeping my slow pace.  Then I approached my stairs (above).  I have to run down them to continue on the path, so I usually spend 1-2 minutes running stairs then continue on with my run.  I stayed strong and ran right down the stairs to continue around the lake.  As I came around a corner I approached another runner. She was decked out in expensive running gear and a fancy watch–that is where I snapped.  I had to race her and win and I knew my LISS workout ended at mile 2.  I caught up with her, said hello, and zoomed around the rest of the lake, heading for my first long hill and 4 more hilly miles under 07:30.  In my defense, it is really hard to do a low intensity run with the amount of hills I encounter. My heart is in my throat the whole run.

You don’t have to dedicate a whole workout to LISS if you don’t have the time or patience.  After you finish your HIIT workout, boot camp, or heart pumping run–go for a 20 minute slow run, walk or cycle.  It will allow you to cool down, circulate blood through your capillaries,  begin to deliver nutrient rich oxygen to fatigued muscles and replenish your supply of ATP.  After I workout I take my dog on a 15-30 minute walk to cool down.  It kills two birds with one stone and allows my neighbors to witness me at my sweatiest, which is terrifying.

Recovery is one of my weak spots, although I am much better than I used to be in regards to “listening to my body”. It is a weekly struggle. Every time I opt for a yoga class over a long run there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In this case the angel is yoga or another form of low intensity exercise.   I recover to avoid injury and prepare myself for my next workout.  I plead with my clients to do the same.  When your body is exhausted, chose recovery or rest.  If it is a choice between sleeping in and getting those 7-8 hours or getting 5-6 hours and squeezing in a workout, chose sleep.  Working past exhaustion and foregoing sleep are two counterproductive approaches to health and fitness.

If you have had a crazy week of heart pumping workouts, go for an hour long cycle or run.  Maybe even a fast pace walk with a friend at dusk. Depending on the degree of intensity you are working at, you may want to alternate HIIT with LISS workouts.  I will take another stab at a LISS run next week, probably on the day I return from Las Vegas…recovery will be a necessity.

For more about LISS, check out this article from my favorite blog!

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