Yesterday I did five recovery miles after my long run on Saturday, and I was reminded of my love/hate relationship with recovery runs. One thing I have learned over years of running is that recovery runs are VERY important.
Many of us make the mistake of running too fast on days that we should be running at “recovery” pace. If you want to get an idea of what your own recovery pace should be, visit the McMillan race calculator. You can plug in a recent race time, and the calculator will spit out ranges for different types of training runs.
Although many people like to take a day off after a hard workout or a long run, it can be beneficial to do a recovery run the next day (followed by a rest day). The primary reason for doing a recovery run, contrary to popular belief, is that it forces your body to work when it is fatigued.
You are probably asking yourself why on earth you would ever subject your body to such a workout. However, conducting a workout in a fatigued state helps boost your overall fitness and help your endurance.
The key here is to make sure that your recovery runs are in fact being run at a slower pace. The Kenyans do this VERY well. People often marvel at the slow pace of their recovery runs (often 2:30 to 4:00 minutes slower).
One suggestion I have heard (something else the Kenyans often do) is to run your recovery runs for time NOT mileage. When you run for time, you are giving your mind/body less incentive to just finish the run faster. Instead you will find yourself running at a comfortable leisurely pace.
Do you incorporate recovery runs into your training schedule?