Recovery run

This article used to refer to “Jog”. We have removed references to jogging on our site. Although this is a common term for slower running it also is synonymous with the damaging hybrid movement between walking and running that modern running shoes allow. We therefore prefer the term “Recovery run” as while you run slower, you should still be running with proper technique and not “jog”, which is an incorrect and harmful movement.

Your recovery runs are slower and more leisurely versions of your aerobic runs. Like faster aerobic running  these runs increase your oxygen uptake, allows your body metabolism to function better and eases duress on the heart by increasing the oxygen content of the blood. These runs are also ideal to keep focusing on proper running form and not revert to “jogging” (striking heel first).

For novice runners, recovery running can replace aerobic runs, for experienced competitors and elites, they are a crucial part supplement to the normal mileage.

Instruction: 

Run slower than you are capable of.

Important points:

  • There is 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 beat a minute, the athlete gains very little cardiac development. This is absolutely wrong; I have never believed it. I fan 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: 

For this level of competitor, recovery runs are never primary workouts but rather serve a backup function to add in additional mileage without imposing the same level of stress on the musculoskeletal system as faster aerobic running.

Elite athletes employing the Lydiard system have generally supplemented their training with easy morning runs up to six days per week. These runs could be as little as fifteen minutes to as long as ten miles. Pace is irrelevant: some Japanese marathoners (such as the Soh brother in the 1970s) started out at 7-minute/km (not mile) pace. Lasse Viren would run slightly faster doing 8km in 40 minutes or 10km in 45 minutes. What is important is keeping good form at all costs. Do not do supplementary running if you have to revert to the jogging gait.

Experienced competitors may find that recovery runs are a perfect time to run with slower runners with whom they could otherwise not train effectively. Apart from the company this helps keep the pace down and avoids the innate competitiveness that often drives evenly matched athletes to up the pace even during easy workouts such as this.

Morning recovery runs are more important during the anaerobiccoordination, and racing phases where they will help accelerate recovery from hard workouts and maintain aerobic conditioning built in the aerobic phase.

Adaptation:

  • Aerobic

Skill:

  • Taking it easy
  • Trust
  • Knowing your recovery pace

Biggest mistakes:

  • Timing your run and lamenting how slow it is.

Terrain: 

Recovery running is 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 and mental recovery that is desired in this workout.

“If you are a novice jogger, train like one. Exercise well within your fitness level and your capacity to exercise for at least six weeks. Your body will tell you those limits; take notice of them. If , after a few minutes of quiet jogging, you feel like stopping for a walk to get your breath, stop and walk. Don’t try to keep on running. By stopping, you’ll be helping your system to improve. By running on, you’ll be slowing this improvement.” – Arthur Lydiard, Running the Lydiard Way

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

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René

Director and coach at Borg Coaching Services
Rene Borg is the head coach of Glendalough AC and a passionate runner competing over all distances and terrains.
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