Many runners are surprised to hear that your best results come when most of your training runs are recovery runs which are ‘easy’ and slow. That’s right! The majority of runners I see run too fast most of the time and this results in little to no gains in training and their performance plateaus or even declines. This often leads to frustration, injury and fatigue. Instead, run slower more often and you’ll race faster and have more fun. This sounds counter intuitive but let me explain why this method works so well for so many runners.
- Training and performance gains are all all about recovery. The quicker you recover from your workouts, the more progress you will make. Think of recovery runs as ‘active recovery’. Your next workout will go better when you are fully recovered thus maximizing performance gains.
- Slow, easy runs allow you to increase your volume and weekly mileage with less chances of injury, fatigue and burn out.
- Recovery runs enhance your race performance by preventing you from plateauing, over training or getting injured. Instead, you are more likely too see a steady increase in running performance by running easy and slow more often because you’ll be more consistent and enjoy running more.
So what is a ‘recovery’ run?
Slow and ‘easy’ is different for everyone. In general, you want your recovery run to be mostly flat and fairly short mileage (3-6 miles for most people). Determining your pace can be a bit more challenging and this is where a professional running coach can help.
To figure out your recovery run pace, here are some tips:
- If you use a heart rate monitor, shoot for 120-145 BPM.
- Run a pace where you could hold a conversation if you had to. You should not be breathing too hard. If you are, you are running too fast.
- Walking is encouraged if it helps you bring your heart rate to the desired range or your breathing is too labored.
- Shoot for 60-80% of your runs to be ‘easy’ recovery runs.
- Practice an efficient running technique to make your running easier.
Coach Damian Stoy