Long recovery run

This article used to be “Long recovery jog” but as “jogging” really refers to a damaging hybrid movement between walking and running, we are now avoiding this term. Even for short runs, you should aim to keep proper technique.

Your long recovery runs are slower and more leisurely versions of your long aerobic runs. Like long aerobic runs, long recovery runs increase your oxygen uptake, allow your body metabolism to function better and ease duress on the heart by increasing the oxygen content of the blood. At this pace it is easier to focus on proper running form and technique without the added stress of trying to chase paces.

Instruction:

Run slower than you are capable of.

Important points:

  • There are no such thing as “junk miles”. All paces are contributing.

“Some physiologists have maintained that, unless the pulse rate is brought up to 150 to 180 beats a minute, the athlete gains very little cardiac development. This is absolutely wrong; I have never believed it. If an athlete with a normal pulse of 50 to 60 beats a minute lifts the rate to 100, he or she must get cardiac development, so all supplementary jogging, while it may not impose the pressure on the system to the extent that maximum steady state running does, is supplying extra benefits to the cardiac system while it aids the athlete’s recovery.” – Arthur Lydiard, Running with Lydiard

Rate of perceived effort: 

2-3

Experienced competitors/elites:

More experienced runners may find that they can maintain a faster aerobic pace easily during the coordination phase when the long recovery run makes its appearance in the training program. Elite marathoners in particular will find the need to maintain faster aerobic running until the last few weeks before their peak event.

This is fine. The line between a recovery run and faster aerobic running is, after all, arbitrary. What counts is that the pace of the longer aerobic efforts starts to decrease at this point to allow for maximal sharpness by race day. It is believed that blood cells take six weeks to four months to renew, so further intense aerobic exercise will add little or nothing to final race performance at this stage.

Adaptation:

  • Aerobic

Skill:

  • Taking it easy
  • Trust
  • Knowing your recovery pace
  • Technically correct execution of the running gait

Biggest mistakes:

  • Timing your run and lamenting how slow it is.

Terrain:

Recovery runs are best done on reasonably flat but varied terrain (grass, dirt-paths, trails, tarmac). Seasoned off-road runners may be able to recover doing slow runs on hilly or mountainous terrain but for most runners this terrain will counter-act the muscular recovery that is desired when doing recovery runs.

Parts of the workout descriptions are adapted from BreakThrough Running with permission.
X