I love recovery runs. There is no pressure to accomplish any particular goal except to cover a certain distance or time. The idea is to work some soreness out of your legs and you don’t have to run hard to do it. As a matter of fact, you have to run slow. I always run a recovery run the day after a hard run. Running hard will take its toll on your body and it needs rest. I believe active rest is best that day after a hard workout or race and an easy recovery run is perfect. If I am going to take a day off, I would prefer it to be the day after a recovery run. Your legs get stiff with lactic acid build up from running fast and an easy run will help to alleviate that soreness.
So how do you go about a recovery run? Easy. That’s the key. A couple of minutes slower than your regular pace is not too slow. A little faster is okay, but not necessary. At the fastest, thirty seconds to a minute slower than your average run is appropriate. Run slow, take it easy, and enjoy the lower effort! Think of it like lying on the beach, or relaxing to a good movie. I always think about recovery runs as a reward for working so hard the day before.
Recovery runs will help to prevent injury. Keeping your legs as loose as possible is an important part of keeping yourself on the healthy track. In addition to the run, take time to stretch when done. Pay attention to particularly sensitive muscle groups and spend a little more time on those, gently stretching them.
If it is important to run easy the day after a hard workout, it is even more important to recover from a race. The longer the race, the longer the recovery needs to be. My (and a lot of other folks) rule of thumb is a day of easy running for each mile of the race. For a 5K, I will run a recovery run the day after the race and then at least two more easy days before getting back to hard running again. For a marathon, I will run recovery runs for a week and then run easy for another two to three weeks before attempting to run hard again.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” It’s a good way to look at recovery runs. Each race is the end of a journey, some short and some long. Either way, new beginnings are always intriguing. Any time we are tested and we become tired and worn; it is good to remember that we are New Creatures in God’s eyes.
- Recovery runs are a reward for working hard. Enjoy them without guilt!
- As a rule of thumb, run one easy day for each mile of a race to ensure your body is ready to get back to hard running.
- Each mountain we climb, whether a race or difficult life circumstances, new beginnings are welcome. But nothing beats the new beginning of becoming a new creature in Christ!
An excerpt from Devotions v1. Pick up a copy today at www.RunforGod.com.