There were many years that I shunned the Recovery Run, then there was a period when I was running recovery runs on a regular basis. In that period I came to appreciate the Recovery Run.
1: Reduces mental fatigue
No matter how much you love running, if you’re training for longer distances there often comes a point when you’re just tired of either running, or trying to hit a certain pace, or even just running longer. Knowing you don’t have to run hard or long can be a huge energizer.
2: Reduces chance of injury
Recovery runs, when done at the right pace (which isn’t as easy as it sounds), can help to keep you aerobically fit while reducing the wear and tear on your body.
3: Increases weekly mileage
I love recovery runs for this reason. Adding on, even to my shorter runs, isn’t always possible — and sometimes just isn’t desirable. Run a mile or two — maybe even a couple of times a week? It’s an easy way (pun intended) for you to increase your weekly mileage without burning out.
4: Trains you to run on tired legs
There’s a point in most races when your legs are tired. Or in your long runs or harder workouts. Running easy the day after a hard effort helps to train you to run when you’ve already worked your legs hard the day before. That can translate into having the mental fortitude to run harder when you’re tired towards the end of the race.
5: May actually make you a faster runner
Running easy after a hard effort may actually help you to run faster in the long run (again, pun intended!) — see point #4.
Recovery Runs aren’t actually about clearing lactic acid — that happens fairly quickly after a hard run. They also aren’t really about reducing soreness, either — soreness is actually caused by inflammation, not the build up of lactic acid. I hope you can see, though, that there can be a lot of benefits to running easy on a tired legs.
Have you ever tried a Recovery Run?
Did you like it — and if you did, why?
Did you not like it — and if so, why?