I raced a 15 miler on Sunday and was browsing articles on recovery times. Interestingly I found a quote from Tim Noakes saying that the guidance that says "take a rest day for every mile raced" gained popularity in the 70s but is not evidence-based advice, it's just 'finger in the air'.
I struggle after races and tend to get ill, which I think is because I try to jump back in too soon. I've taken Monday and Tuesday off running so far and will continue to go by feel. I'll quite happily do only easy runs for the next week without worrying.
It would be really nice to be told how much recovery to take but I'm starting to understand now that learning how your own body reacts is a large part of the sport, and only you can make the call.
It pains me to say it because it seems a bit mean, but there is some fairly poor information being bandied about in this thread. It's understandable to an extent, weight loss is a popular and profitable subject and so magazines and TV programmes give coverage to pretty much anyone professing to have nutritional expertise.
My advice: ignore them all and think about what your parent's or grandparent's diets are/were like. I bet in most cases it's high in veg, low in processed crap, and junk food is a weekend treat rather than a daily staple. I don't think I ever once saw my granny with a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar, but she wouldn't worry about a biscuit with a cup of tea either.
I don't think anybody above was disputing the importance of nutrition and composition to fuelling, growth, repair and overall health. The point was about weight gain vs weight loss, and where this is concerned, it really is as simple as calories in vs calories out.
You can actually prevent a teenager from going through puberty by denying them the calories needed to grow. The point is that their bodies are asking for more calories for a reason. If someone - especially an exerciser - is trying to lose fat simply by counting calories and nothing else there is a good chance they will run into trouble. The reason is usually that the diet quality is too poor and glycogen depletion and/or micronutrient malnutrition begin to set in. Unfortunately the body can't communicate this and simply sends out a cue to 'eat more'. It's never needed to develop a more sophisticated system as it's only in recent times (in evolutionary timescales) that diet quality has dropped so dramatically.
I don't really think we disagree on that much and I'm weary I might be coming across as quibbling. I just feel that we've had a couple of decades now where the "calories in, calories out" message has become pervasive and it's not an effective message en masse. I feel we need to get back to talking about improving diet quality and the good old food triangle, but maybe with an increased emphasis on teaching people why what they eat and not just how much is important.
Oh and of course best of luck to the OP in her fitness efforts
The "calories in versus calories out" simplification fares very poorly when applied practically, especially to those who exercise. Without the correct types of calories coming in i.e. correct macro ratios, you can really mess your body up and end up feeling awful.
You've probably read it a thousand times before but running needs to be fuelled by a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, preferably from balanced meals containing a little protein and a little fat and some fibre, and from sensible portion sizes. This all contributes to limiting glycemic load and maximises the chances that you keep your muscles stocked with glycogen. Even if you limit your calories, if they are coming from fatty foods or foods high in simple sugars, your body will struggle to fuel your muscles for exercise. Instead the calories end up in adipose tissue.
Metabolic processes are quite complex but it was all pretty much figured out decades ago and the following simple rules were devised:
Eat plenty of fruit and veg
Eat plenty of fibre
Limit foods high in fat and/or simple sugars
Have sensible portion sizes
The above advice is simple and sound. This "calorie is a calorie is a calorie" tosh is not.