Ultimate Guide to Recovery Runs: Benefits, Heart Rate and Purpose

recovery runs
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After a hard run, your body is all fatigued and filled with unwanted waste products accumulated in your muscles and bloodstream.

Not so great eh…?

Recovery runs is one of the best workout to facilitate its namesake: recovery.

Recovery runs is a great way to improve blood circulation throughout your legs and body while removing unwanted waste products quicker.

It is also a good way to work on improving your running technique, running form, boost fitness and establish base mileage.

In this Ultimate Guide to Recovery Runs, you will learn the following:

  1. What is a Recovery Run?
  2. Benefits of Recovery Runs
  3. What Should My Heart Rate Be on a Recovery Run?
  4. Purpose of Recovery Runs
  5. What Pace Should a Recovery Run Be?
  6. When To Do a Recovery Run?

Sounds exciting? Let’s begin!

1. What is a Recovery Run?

A recovery runs is a short, slow, steady run completed within 24 hours after a hard workout session.

You can do recovery run at any distance as long it is comfortable and not over-taxing your body – preferably shorter distance than your usual runs.

Recovery run is the best time for you to feel yourself and enjoy the slow run off your usual hardcore training routine.

2. Benefits of Recovery Runs

It is not about jogging in the park, enjoying the scenery and breathing the fresh air. There are tons of benefits associated to recovery runs.

These are the benefits of recovery runs:

“Improve Recovery”

To be frank, a recovery run is not scientifically proven to provide any improvement in recovery after a hard workout session.

Muscles recovery, repair and adaptation along with energy replenishment is associated to a better nutrition intake and good night’s sleep rather than recovery run.

healthy nutrition

Recovery run is sort of providing placebo that you feel like you improved the speed of recovery, in reality, no significant difference.

So why you should do recovery runs?

Continue reading the other actual benefits of recovery runs.

Adaptation to Running Slower Pace

You consistently run at a quicker pace during your workout session and left out running slower pace for good.

Sounds good?

Not exactly… Your body adapts to running quicker and it uses stored muscles glycogen from carbohydrates rather than using your fat energy reserves.

So when you do recovery runs, it allows your body to adapt to running slower pace and thus, your body uses fat more efficiently as a source of energy.

When your body uses fat more efficiently as a source of energy while running long-slow distance, you can keep running longer distances without stopping to refuel.

Improve Running Form & Technique

When you are running quick while huffing and panting, I’m pretty sure you tend to keep running to finish your workout rather than focusing on your running form and technique.

During your recovery run, you are running slow enough that you can focus on improving your running form and technique.

You got the time and energy to know how your body is moving and correct any improper running form and technique.

Trains Cardio & Muscles to Work More Efficiently

Recovery runs trains your cardio and muscles to work more efficiently and better integration between various systems.

This in turn helps you to run faster on your usual running days with less effort.

Recovery runs also train your slow-twitch muscle fibres (type I) which helps you to sustain your run for longer distances.

Improve Mental Strength

Sounds counterintuitive no?

No!

When you are doing your recovery run, yes, you are running slower, you can practice positive self-talk.

Positive self-talk is basically telling yourself things like:

  • “I can do this”
  • “I am strong!”
  • “Completed 7 km, another easy 3 km to go!”

Try to avoid negative self-talk such as:

  • “I’m so slow”
  • “I can’t do this”
  • “This hurts so much”

3. What Should My Heart Rate Be on a Recovery Run?

Ideally, your heart rate during recovery runs should be between 65-75% of your maximal heart rate.

recovery runs heart rate

So how to know your maximal heart rate?

Simplest way is to minus your age from 220. For example, you are 30 years old, minus 30 from 220 to get a maximal heart rate of 190.

This is the maximal heart rate you can achieve during your hardcore workout.

Since recovery runs are between 65-75% of your maximal heart rate, therefore, your heart rate should be between 123-143 (calculation from the above max HR of 190).

Take it easy, it is a recovery run, chill and enjoy the slow run.

4. Purpose of Recovery Runs

Recovery runs is one of the best workout to facilitate its namesake: recovery.

Recovery runs is a great way to improve blood circulation throughout your legs and body while removing unwanted waste products quicker.

It is also a good way to work on improving your running technique, running form, boost fitness and establish base mileage.

5. What Pace Should a Recovery Run Be?

Ideally, your recovery run pace should be the pace that is very comfortable for you.

Comfortable running pace is the pace that you can hold a conversation while running without much effort.

Get a buddy along with your recovery run, have a chit-chat and enjoy it.

If you don’t have a running buddy with you, no problems!

Try to speak a sentence while running, if you can’t, then your pace is too quick – time to slow down.

If you are a technical person, you can also gauge your pace by following the recovery run heart rate percentage, as mentioned in point 3 above.

6. When To Do A Recovery Run?

The best time to do a recovery run is within 24 hours of completing a hardcore workout session.

If you ran hard in the morning, you can go for a recovery run in the evening.

This is how most elite runners can accumulate high weekly mileage (140-180 km per week), they run double session, in the morning and evening.

Heck man! Some elite runners even run triple sessions – morning, mid-day and evening.

Note: Recovery runs isn’t a must-do workout for all runners, you can try it, but it is not necessary.

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