Is it time for a recovery run?
If you sense it's time to dial back your training...
Too many runners go hard...every day...every run.
It's a recipe for burnout and injury, and there's a better way:
Here are SIX tips to help you plan your next recovery run.
Running is hard. There’s no way around it.
The challenge is a huge part of the appeal, and most runners would agree that there’s really no better feeling than:
These are the moments that fuel the fire and keep us coming back for more of that "good hurt."
Working at your limit on every run, day in and day out, will undoubtedly hurt more than help.
Running puts stress on your body, which eventually turns into growth as your body learns how to adapt to that stress and up the ante even further from there.
Those adaptations can’t happen without adequate rest and recovery, though.
The body needs time to process the stress first.
Full rest days are definitely important to include on a regular basis, but kicking back once or twice a week does the trick for most runners.
In that case, though, the numbers don’t quite add up.
How do runners fill in the gaps?
Well, some runners don’t stick to the guidelines. Don’t let their back-to-back HIIT sessions or daily sweaty selfies tempt you.
Recovery runs consist of no-frills, low-effort days that let runners add mileage but not stress.
Running at an easy pace increases:
Gentle movement also helps stretch out your:
And mentally, easy runs take the pressure off so that you get the chance to run for running’s sake—no strings or expectations attached.
Ironically, recovery runs are often harder for runners to do right than their longest runs and hardest workouts.
If you're trying to build your own recovery run practice...
These aren’t the days to feel like you’re flying.
Even if you come into a recovery run with enough gas in the tank to go faster than pure easy pace, it’s not necessarily a question of “can” you but “should” you.
Going too fast on days when you’re supposed to be taking it slow...
Think about it this way: You’re not able to run your best when it counts if you don’t hold back in between.
To make the most of your hard days, go easy on the rest.
Master the recovery run with these SIX tips on embracing an easy pace.
“Easy” feels different depending on the day.
A more reliable way to make sure you’re running at a sufficiently easy pace on a recovery run is by talking.
That makes a recovery run the perfect opportunity for:
Note: I often spend easy runs catching up with my family. Most of the time, they don’t even know I’m running because I’m talking so smoothly!
Keeping the pace slow enough to maintain a conversation will hold you in the right effort zone for a recovery run.
Another way to keep yourself in check during recovery runs is to rely on the RPE scale.
You can evaluate your effort on a scale from 1-10.
If workouts and long runs creep up toward an 8 or 9 on that scale, recovery runs should stick to around a 3 to 5.
Check in with yourself frequently throughout the run to make sure you’re not going above and beyond.
Now’s not the time to chase any Strava segments.
Runners tend to get a bit sloppy with their form during recovery runs.
Why? They’re not paying as much attention.
But this defeats much of the purpose for a recovery run.
Easy days are supposed to give your body time to repair and restore itself...
Don’t let your feet simply plod along while your mind drifts elsewhere.
Recovery runs can actually be the perfect time to work on your form, since you have more mental capacity on these runs compared to hard days.
Use this time wisely to both prevent injuries and cement good form in your mind for when you don’t have as much bandwidth to spare.
Long runs, speed workouts, and races all deserve an easy day (or more) on the back end.
Try to schedule your training such that the day after a hard run is reserved for an easy run.
Don’t get stuck in the gray zone.
The gray zone is that awkward middle ground between hard and easy...
Think about it this way:
Go HAM on long runs and workouts, then listen to your body in the aftermath:
The gray zone simply won’t do you any favors.
This one’s the most important rule of all.
Long runs and speed workouts tend to be more Type II fun:
But recovery runs?
They’re allowed to be chock-full of pure Type I fun:
As much as we love running, it can easily start to feel like a second job if we forget to relax a bit with it too.
Recovery runs are your time to just be and embrace the easy.
Are recovery runs part of your training? Tell us about it.