Recovery Runs Offer More than Recovery
Make Sure Not to Skip Them
Recovery runs are short runs of light intensity that do not stress the body. They are typically taken after a long or high intensity run that wears the muscles down to complete fatigue.
Most runners know that the best thing they can do after a hard run is go out for another run, but this time at a much slower pace with limited distance.
The problem is many runners do not understand why these light runs are so beneficial to the body.
What Recovery Runs Don’t Do
So many runners believe that the purpose of the recovery run is to simply recover from more intense training. This makes sense, since the muscles are sore and fatigued the day after an intense run. The problem with this theory is that it has been proven to be incorrect.
It was once believed that lactic acid builds up in the muscles during long, intense training. The muscle soreness experienced after a easy run was believed to be caused by this lactic acid, and the recovery run was championed as a great method to clear the lactic acid so the muscles could recover more rapidly.
Today, we know that lactic acid does not remain in the muscle long term and is not at all to blame for the soreness you feel after really pushing it hard in a workout.
This means these runs are not essential for muscle recovery after a hard workout. Does that mean you don’t have to do them anymore? Not quite. The recovery run has far more to offer than enhanced recovery.
Make sure you incorporate them into your running plan. If you decide to run a marathon I strongly advise to make these easy runs part of your marathon training schedule.
Practice Makes Perfect
Many professionals now believe that the amount of running you do is just as important as the intensity of your runs. In order to become a better runner, you should be logging more miles throughout the week. In order to log more miles, you have to take the intensity down so you do not reach maximum fatigue of your muscles too soon.
For example, imagine your goal is to run fifty miles this week. There are three ways you could approach this training goal:
1. You head out each day to run at maximum speed, putting in super intense workouts every time your feet hit the pavement.
2. You take it slow in every workout, making sure not to stress your muscles so you can make it through the fifty miles without fatigue or injury.
3. Blend intense runs that really stress the muscles with lighter recovery runs that do not stress.
If you head out to give it your all and really stress your muscles every time you run, you will be more likely to hit a wall and fall short of your goal than to reach your goal. You will simply be putting too much stress on your muscles in order to get in the miles you want.
If you take it easy with each run you will not stress your body enough and you will not improve as a runner. Even if you hit your weekly mile goal, it might not do much for your running goals.
The best option is to do intense workouts that really stress your muscles, and then mix in some lighter runs that are easy and fun. This allows you to reach your goal and increase your miles without overstressing your muscles and while improving your running.
In order to be a great runner you need to run. Allowing for easy runs in your training schedule allows you to get out there and practice more miles each week. That is valuable in the long term and will help you grow as a runner.
Save Your Energy
Easy, short runs do not demand nearly as much from your muscles as a longer or more intense run. These runs are light and fun, and they do not take up a lot of your time. This makes them the perfect partner to your more intense training. You can do more of these light, fun runs while saving your energy and power for the more challenging workouts.
If you were hitting it as hard as possible with every run, it would not be long before you had to take a break or suffered an overuse injury.
Recovery runs allow you to break up the more intense workouts without bringing a complete halt to your training schedule. They simply allow you to enjoy running without taking steam out of your more intense, more effective training sessions.
Easy runs should definitely be part of your training program. Learn everything about recovery runs and you will experience the benefits right way!
Return from Recovery Runs to Marathon Training Schedule
Return to Marathon Training Tips home