Recovery Runs

I am training for VLM and I did a 20 miler yesterday, I need to go out for a recovery run to loosen off but find it hard to take it 'steady'. When I finish these runs I seem to have gone at my normal pace which surely can't be good for recovery?

How far/long should i run for to get the most out the recovery run?


  • Hopefully someone can advice as I have the same problem.....

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    What do you mean by 'normal'.

    Just run for a couple of miles at a pace that feels easy.

    I don't think the actual pace matters, just that you shouldn't be thinking about pace or time and not worried if you can hardly move.

    The idea is, as you say, just to loosen up a bit and flush the blood around to aid the muscle recovery.
  • ShazmoShazmo ✭✭✭

    Megan, I have a similar problem in that whenever I run at what I think is an easy pace, it's usually turns out to be marathon pace.  I find it quite uncomfortable to deliberately run slowly - my gait doesn't feel right and I feel clunky and awkward.

    Tim is right though - just run to whatever feels comfortable. Alternatively, spin your legs quickly on a bike but at low resistance for half an hour or so to get the blood flowing. (Or some other form of x-training)

  • You have to consciously run slower. It may feel a little strange but shortening your stride a bit can often help.

    To get an idea of your recovery pace, enter a recent race time into the mcmillan calculator and click Training Paces and it gives you a good idea on what your pace should be.

    Personally, I'd consider a recovery run of between 4 and 6 miles. But there is no scientific grounding to why I do that. it just works for me.

    Just need to exercise self control and discipline at sticking at the pace. its considerably easier to run slower than you would like than it is to run faster than you like!

  • +1 for McMillan recovery paces (if you have some sort of gps)

    if you don't then, like matty, just easy jogging pace is enough to aid recovery. Its all about loosening the muscles. Probably the best benefit is 4+ miles.

    some light stretches after (recovery run), maybe a roller works a treat for me. I did 17 yesterday and feel fresh today, enough for a blast down the track tonight image

  • ShazmoShazmo ✭✭✭

    I've completed 4 marathons and I still don't find it comfortable running at a deliberately slow pace. For my last marathon I skipped recovery runs altogether and just did cross training. Didn't do me any harm. Horses for courses though, I know. As long as you get the blood flowing to those wee capillaries.

    I'm like you Jason in that I dont particularly get sore/stiff after a long run (apart from a race) - thankfully image

  • Try using a HR monitor.  P+D give you specific zones to train in, I think recovery is around 70% of max HR.

  • ShazmoShazmo ✭✭✭

    I don't have a problem knowing the pace/HR zone I should be in, more that I find the mechanics of runing slowly difficult...

  • I run recovery runs between 4-6 miles, at roughly the slow end of my LSR pace range. Target marathon pace is 8 min/mi, anything slower than 9min/mi doesn't even feel like running so that's about as slow as I go.
  • How important do people find recovery runs? I can only do 4 runs a week really so, with trying to get a speed session, a hill run, a MWLR and a LSR in to that week, I don't have space for a recovery run. Does anybody consider a recovery run after the LSR to be more important than any of those other types of run?

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Good question.

    I never did them until recently. They certainly stop the DOMS and the evidence that it promotes better healing is definitely true.

    The other runs are important though. How much walking during your normal day do you do. I suspect that just walking would be adequate in a lot of cases.
  • How about cycling for an hour instead of a slow easy recovery run? Cycling is far less impact upon the joints and exercises other parts of the body and is good aerobic activity.

    I do most of my running on treadmill because it is far less impact than running on hard solid surfaces. Luxury of a gym, running at a set pace and controlling the incline with the press of the button. Listening to my MP3  helps pass the time by and eases boredom.

  • Peter MPeter M ✭✭✭

    should recovery runs be the day after, or can it wait for 2 days? I did my first HM yesterday, overdid it a bit in the last mile, not sure i can face a jog today, was planning to force myself out tomorrow. Is that to late to gain any benefit from a recovery run? 


  • Resting at the end-point of a training cycle when you've done your target race is a bit of an exception, when you deserve to treat yourself, but if the HM was part of a training cycle for say a marathon, then I'd say do the recovery run the day after. The value of a recovery run is in improving your running economy when in a pre-fatigued state. I like the summary of its purpose in an article in Competitor Running here.

    PS according to the same coach, a recovery run does not prevent DOMS.

  • ShazmoShazmo ✭✭✭

    Road Warrior - I substituted a lot of my recovery runs for easy cycling. I think some of the idea is just to get the blood flowing again to the leg muscles and speed up the healing process (all those tiny micro tears).

  • That's a really interesting read Steve. I can fully understand the idea of training on already tired legs, almost giving you the training benefit you'd get from the last few miles of a long run, without having to do the long run again.

    Still not sure I would add one in as I always do my long run on a Sunday morning and it says that really, you need to do a recovery run with 24hrs to get the benefit. That would mean going out early on Monday morning, which is not likely to happen! I really appreciate having a rest and a break on Mondays.

  • Recovery runs are pretty simple.  Start off nice and slow and keep it nice and slow - if you're doing it right you'll be at your steady run pace by the end of it and you will have actually sped up but not noticed any increase in perceived effort as your blood ph returns to normal.  

    A thirty minute run should be more than enough to prepare you properly for you next 'hard' session.  

     EDIT: I tag recovery runs onto the end of a hard session. 


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