To Recovery Run or Not to Recovery Run…

You’re in the middle of training and you feel great! The legs are pumping, blood is flowing and you’re on top of the mountain. Then you hit the wall of lactic acid and muscle cramps.. What’s a girl to do? I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about recovery runs and I decided to delve into the world of research to see what I came up with.

I’ll be the first to admit to that I don’t really “recovery” run. BUT! After talking with Scott over at Team All-American, I’ve decided my running might need some tweaking. So this week I decided to try a recovery run. I ran 4.56 miles the other night and my legs and ankle (still healing from a torn ligament) weren’t very happy campers. Today I headed out with a goal of a 10 minute mile pace for 1.5-2miles in mind. That’s about 2.5 minutes slower than my normal average. It was a struggle!!! I wanted to go zoom zoom zoom..I mean why go slow when you can run fast? But I knew that I needed to pay attention to my pace and my breathing something that I have learned goes hand in hand. Surprisingly enough I hit the half mile mark and wasn’t winded at all. By the mile I was at an easy lope and my legs felt really good. It was like the light suddenly came on and my brain got it ~ sometimes slower is better, breathing is stronger and hey my legs don’t hurt..

The biggest thing I’ve seen when recovery running is that the body is already in a state of fatigue. By moving at a slower pace you lessen the impact while allowing the blood to flow. I feel like recovery runs increase my fitness by challenging me to run in semi-fatiguedΒ  state. My thoughts on a semi-fatigued state is this..if a bear is chasing me I’m not going to have time to say: “Excuse me Mr. Bear, but I need to stretch out first.” I should be ready to take off at any moment…come fatigue or no fatigue.

I found an interesting study out of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark on Active.com. In this study, test subjects exercised one leg once daily and the other leg twice every other day. The total amount of training was equal for both legs, but the leg that was trained twice every other day was forced to train in a pre-fatigued state in the afternoon (recovery) workouts, which occurred just hours after the morning workouts. After several weeks of training in this split manner, the subjects engaged in an endurance test with both legs. The researchers found that the leg trained twice every other day increased its endurance 90 percent more than the other leg. Conclusive? Seemed so to me.

They had some great tips :) I thought I’d post a few..

    • Whenever you run again within 24 hours of completing a key workout (or any run that has left you severely fatigued or exhausted), the follow-up run should usually be a recovery run.
    • Don’t be too proud to run very slowly in your recovery runs, as Kenya’s runners are famous for doing. Even very slow running counts as pre-fatigued running practice that will yield improvements in your running economy, and running very slowly allows you to run longer without sabotaging your next key workout.
    • Recovery runs are only necessary if you run four times a week or more.
      • If you run four times a week, your first three runs should be key workouts and your fourth run only needs to be a recovery run if it is done the day after a key workout instead of the day after a rest day.
      • If you run five times a week, at least one run should be a recovery run.
      • If you run six or more times a week, at least two runs should be recovery runs.

I’ve seen a lot of research on recover running the last few days. Some of it pro-recovery, some of it blah who needs that. So which is it for you? Are you pro recovery runs? Anti-recovery runs? Do they work for you?

XoXo!

One Curiously Recovering Lemon

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3 Replies to “To Recovery Run or Not to Recovery Run…”

  1. I don’t run often enough yet to try recovery runs, but I wish I had known about this over the summer when I was running 6 days a week before spraining my knee. If I had made some of those runs recovery runs I might not have gotten hurt.

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