If you pick up any good training plan it will contain days in the week when the theme is recovery running. Now as a coach I am frequently asked about ‘what is recovery running’? On my run this morning I felt tired and knew I have had a tough week with plenty of running and lots of busy days. I found myself running really easily and pretending that I was observing my own advice and completing a recovery run. Part of me wanted to still check my watch at certain points to see how I was getting on but I eventually switched the stop watch off and just ran as easily as I could.
It made me remember just how hard it can be to accept that less is sometimes definitely more.
You really can finish a run feeling fresher than you did at the start if you let go and stop worrying about pace, what those waiting at the bus top might think of you and just relax. If I had been running with a friend or group it would have been easier to judge this run correctly. It has to be a fully conversational pace at all times. No part of the conversation should be strained or difficult and you certainly should never feel out of breath. In reality you are re introducing oxygenated blood full of nutrients into the system, loosening out tight muscles and flushing away toxins from previous harder days. It’s almost a massage on the move.
For years as a younger athlete I used to leave the door and run how I felt on these days, but inevitably this often meant I ran too fast. I would drift into a steady pace that was neither hard nor easy. Not a problem in some runs during the week but on those where I needed to recover I wasn’t. I was just doing another run that was neither here nor there…just junk miles perhaps.
Many of the worlds best get this right and are happy to run really slowly on their recovery run days. They know that this will leave them feeling better and fresh for the harder workouts that lie just ahead. Perhaps we can all learn from this and in order to run faster, you will some days have to run much slower…
A few top tips on recovery running:
1. Make sure you can talk easily on any recovery run.
2. Try not to run further than 30-45 minutes as any further starts to become a longer run, which you will ironically need to recover from!
3. Aim for an effort level of 6 out of 10 or 60-65% max heart rate and be strict on yourself.
4. Tell yourself to slow down even if you see another runner ahead or become competitive.
5. Choose a beautiful route that’s easy to complete.
6. Leave your watch at home or cover up the screen. Run to feel and take away the pressure.
7. Wear your most supportive shoes and stretch well after wards.
Enjoy every run!