Whether you just had an intense marathon or running session, you need a recovery run! And yes, these are actually different from your cool down runs and are crucial for your overall running health. But what are these kinds of runs and when do you do it?
Read on to learn all about the recovery run and how you can begin doing it properly!
What Is a Recovery Run?
Even I was wondering what a recovery run was because I thought all runs were just the same! Well, recovery runs are defined as a short and easy-paced run which is usually done right after interval workouts or long runs.
Basically, these types of runs are your erases training days of the week, the second easiest to rest days. You won’t need to overexert yourself with long and/or intense runs this time, focusing more on your overall health and stamina. Anyway, I’ll be getting into the exact advantages of recover runs in the next sections so read on!
Benefits of a Recovery Run
You’re probably wondering: Why bother going for a recovery run? Why can’t I just completely rest OR go back to my usual training sessions like before?
Well, studies actually show that these easier runs and workouts may be able to flush out your lactic acid buildup. Because of this, it prevents the delayed onset of muscle soreness while speeding up recovery.
However, take note that there isn’t enough scientific evidence which proves the quicker recovery time. This is actually all relative because, for me, I experience my legs lessening its stiffness as I run with ease.
But another real benefit of recovery runs is the fact they help increase your fitness levels. You challenge your body to continue working itself without overexerting to the point of exhaustion and risk of injury. Even if they are shorter and slower, they can really boost your fitness and stamina because you’re in a fatigued state and push yourself to the (safe) limits.
As long as you do a recovery run right, you can benefit from the way it can increase your endurance and stamina, preparing you for even longer and more intense running sessions in the future.
When Do You Do This?
Some people actually DON’T need to do recovery runs. These runs are only necessary if you run for over four times a week, or within 24 hours after a “key” run. Key runs are workouts or runs which has left you exhausted and fatigued, such as long-distance runs, races, or marathons.
So recovery runs are always done within a day of your last intense run, without any absolute rule of how long and what pace to set (though I’ll recommend ideas and sample runs in the next section).
- If you run three times a week, there’s no need for a recovery run unless you just participated in a race or marathon
- If you run four times a week, the first three runs are key workouts, with a recovery run followed a day after the third key run
- For those running five times a week, at LEAST one run should be a recovery run. If six or more times a week, at least two runs are recovery runs
What’s the Pace?
Like mentioned, there aren’t absolute rules on the duration and pace for a recovery run. You can make it as fast and long as you want as long as it won’t affect your next key run’s performance. But with that being said, avoid going the normal or faster pace and duration as you would in typical key runs.
Go for low-intensity efforts, finding a relaxed and consistent pace that suits YOU. The term easy and low-effort is relative to your usual speed and overall fitness level.
Typically, recovery run paces are about 65% of your maximum heart rate, if not lower. This is where a heart rate monitor can help you out. For me, my guideline is to not completely exhaust myself or be breathless and sweating during the recovery run.
How to Begin Recovery Running
How can you begin recovery runs? Here’s a sample workout you can try out:
Recovery runs would usually last between three to five miles, usually at the shorter end of the range. This is around 25 to 40 minutes long at slower paces. But again, this would depend on your training goals and fitness level.
Sometimes, a short run around the park is a recovery run, while professional athletes would go for up to five miles, maximum. Listen to your body rather than to overexert yourself. In recovery runs, the more miles do not equate to better!
Extra Tips to Recovery After Long Runs
Now that you’re familiar with recovery runs and where to start, what are other things to follow for better recovery? Follow these helpful tips:
- After your long runs (even a recovery run), you refuel and hydrate with protein-rich food and a lot of water. This helps your body repair muscles quicker
- Of course, stretch before and after all of your runs. I recommend you use foam rollers to relieve sore spots
- For those who pushed themselves to the limits, icing your legs or ice baths can help tighten and drain blood vessels. As a result, freshly oxygenated blood will be able to flush out toxins from your runs
- Besides recovery runs, you also need to recover with your rest. Make sure that you get at least eight hours of sleep a night after your intense runs (including easy runs) to repair and rebuild muscles
Besides these tips, learn more about how to recover from races and hard runs in this video:
Wrapping It Up
Recovery runs are extremely beneficial to allow your body to rest while still maintaining your stamina! So hopefully, my article on recovery runs gave you an idea on where to begin! So if you just finished your intense marathons and races, start planning your recovery run now. If you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences on recovery running, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.