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"Recovery" runs? (Read 894 times)

    What's the general consensus here on "recovery" runs - as opposed to just putting your feet up and watching Oprah? In other words (hypothetically, let's say), you go for a long 3-4 hour run early in the week. Later in the week, you're planning on running something shorter (say 3-6 miles) but faster. Do you take a couple days off, period? Or do you go for a shortish, very slow "recovery" run? ----------------------------------------- And setting the above not-so-hypothetical aside, what are your basic opinions on the "recovery" run idea? I read some experts who suggest running a slow, easy 3-4 miles after (or between) hard runs; I've read others who say that - unless you're one o' them non-mediocre elite running types - you ought to just take a day off, period. I'm still figuring what works best for me. What works best for you? And what would Mr. T do in the above situation? Modified: because I misspelled Oprah. How embarrassing.
    E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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      Recovery runs definitely work for me. I have found that I operate much better as a runner and as a human being if I run every day, versus planning days off. Occasionally life forces a day off on me and that's the way it goes, but in general I expect to run every day and operate as such. So I have to make sure to make at least 3 days every week very easy days. I go for a very easy 45 minute run. Almost a jog. But after a very hard effort--either a workout or a race--I actually need to slow it down to full-fledged "recovery" pace. I'll shorten the distance to be able to still run about 45-minutes, but at a full minute per mile slower than my normal "easy" pace. This feels like an utter jog. I definitely recover faster doing this than taking a day off--and I'm still getting the benefits of improving my aerobic capacity while taking almost nothing out of me. I think recovery runs get oxygenated blood to your muscles to help recovery and help restore your body's blood chemistry to normal while also providing some stimulus for aerobic improvement. Anyway that's what I've read and it makes sense. Everyone recovers at different rates depending upon experience level, age, health and, of course, genetics. But that is what works for me and I think most people will generally get more benefit from a recovery run than from a rest day. The only exception would be after a marathon or a very long race on a hilly course, where the major issues are not acidosis but blunt force trauma to muscle and connective tissues as well as glycogen depletion. Which brings up a separate but related issue. I've never done a 4-hour training run and I doubt I ever will. In fact, I think I've only ever done one 3-hour training run and that was by mistake when I had my wife drop me off on a section of the Cape Cod rail trail and pick me up somewhere way down stream--and it wound up being a lot hotter and there was much less water on the trail than I expected. There is definitely a point of diminishing returns in long runs. I'm sure, again, there are individual differences but I have a hard time believing that most people are getting much out of a run longer than about 2.5 hours. I think by that time most people have just about exhausted every system and muscle fiber in their bodies, have gotten about all the training stimulus they are going to out of the run and are just bludgeoning themselves needlessly, resulting in a prolonged recovery or worse.

      Runners run.

        Only time running 3 hours or more makes sense is if you are training for a marathon. Hal Higdons beginner training plan for a marathon ends with 15, 18 and 20 mile runs. They take 3 to 4 hours but are truly appreciated when race day comes. Hop
          I usually do an easy 3 or 4 miles the day after my long runs. After a race, depends on how I feel. I did a 10 mile race last weekend and the next day my legs were still feeling it so instead of a run, I did an easy 9 or 10 miles on the bike and then did a slow 3 miles the next day. After my HM last spring I did take 3 days off on the advice of my coach. Too much time off for me though. Wink After shorter races I don't usually do much different than I usually would. I usually schedule one rest day a week. Usually the day before my long run. And then one cross-training day. Mainly just because that's the way my coach had set up my original training schedule. It seems to be working for me. I've run several longer races this year and *so far* have been injury free (or at least free of running-related injuries). ::knock on wood:: Teresa
            Different schools of thought, of course, on "recovery" runs. The older you get Big grin the more your body needs time to recover. I do my long (10-20) runs on Saturday, and don't run on Sunday at all. Quite frankly, that has nothing to do with any running methodology, I've just never run on Sunday in my life. However, as I get older, I think there is benefit to the rest day. After a marathon, I take the next day off. Two days after the marathon, I run what I call a "recovery" run--3 or 4 miles at a very easy pace. And, I don't think there is much to be gained runnning over 3 hours, either. Even when I ran for the Marine distance team, we never went over 3 hours. I absolutely agree with the point about diminishing returns. The only exception might be for someone running their first marathon. However, that has little to do with the training benefit, and more to do with instilling the confidence that you know you can stay upright on your feet that long (BTW--the average finishing time of a marathon in 2005 was 4:30). And what would Mr. T do? Not sure, but he wouldn't fly to a race.
            My Masters (>50) Race PR's: 5K - 20:17 10K - 42:36 HM - 1:31:22 Marathon - 3:20:48
              Thanks to all for the advice. Mikey and Pron8r both brought up some really interesting long run stuff that brings up a few dozen questions for me - but rather than highjack my own thread, I'm going to move that to a new thread and try to stay on the "recovery" run thing here. So look for that thread, por favor! Smile So ... I'm quickly concluding that whether to completely rest or do "recovery" runs may be highly dependent on individual variables ... and probably changes a lot with age ... maybe with what other sorts of activities you do. But for me, I'm starting to think that a short, easy run after a hard effort DOES actually expedite recovery. After a hard run on Tuesday, I did nothing yesterday - and didn't feel that hot. I did a very slow easy 6 miles this morning, and the legs actually feel much stronger now. My questions: Do you run recovery runs after just long runs? After faster races or maybe hard speed work? What's the max recommended distance for recovery runs? Do you take walk breaks during recovery runs? ( I did today ... jogging at maybe 9:30 pace, walking a bit every half mile or so.) What kind of pace (say, compared to your goal marathon pace) do you run the recovery runs at? What about non-leg activity cross training instead? In other words - is the "recovery" benefit actually coming from running, or is coming from getting your blood pumping a bit? And if the latter answer is right - would I be better off working on the heavy bag or doing some light weight training - something not leg-related? Or maybe something low impact, like walking or using the elliptical? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Mr. T don't fly on no planes, fool .... Quit all that jibba-jabba about flying ...
              E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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                Even when I ran for the Marine distance team, we never went over 3 hours...
                Semper Fi, bro. You just gave me an idea for yet another thread.
                E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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                  Jake, some answers to your Q's on recovery runs: I run easy runs after every long run or workout, but I don't always specifically call it a "recovery" run, even though the goal is still recovery and aerobic base building. My "easy" pace is about 1.5 - 2.5 minutes per mile slower than my current 5k pace. Full fledged recovery runs are more like 3 minutes slower. I haven't been racing or doing too many really big workouts lately so I haven't done too many specific recovery runs (I also don't flag them in my log as such so it's hard to find them.) The last one I can remember was around late august when I was feeling really drained and decided to shorten my monday easy run from 5.8 to 5 so that I could flat out jog it and still have it be around 45 minutes. My normal easy days are high 7 or low 8 pace and that day I think I averaged 9:09 pace. Felt great after. I don't think distance is the issue, but time. The length of a recovery run will depend on experience and all the other factors, but I would say for beginners or very young/very old runners, recovery runs should probably be capped at around 30 minutes. Experienced runners doing high mileage can probably do 60 minutes no problem. I've heard of elites doing 2-hour "recovery" runs. I generally cap them at 45 minutes, myself. Whereas I cap "easy" runs at about 60-65 minutes. It's sometimes splitting hairs between "easy" and "recovery" runs, but there is a difference. I don't take walk breaks but there is probably no harm in doing so since the goal is recovery. Pace question answered above. Bottom line, SLOW. I think one of the ideas is to actually get oxygenated blood flowing to your leg muscles, so cross training activities that work the legs gently--cycling, walking/hiking, elliptical, pool running, etc.--would have the most cross over benefit. But clearly some of the recovery benefit (and especially aerobic development) is actually coming from running itself. So recovery run is the best option but if you have issues with injuries or need a day with no running then these would be okay substitutes. That's not to say you shouldn't do any non-leg focused cross training just that the reason to do them is not to make you a better runner. Hope that helps. I'm just about done with lunch and need to get back to work but if I have time I'll look at the long run thread tonight.

                  Runners run.

                  Scout7


                  CPT Curmudgeon

                    I run, but much slower than my usual pace, and usually only about 3-5 miles tops. Especially a day or two after a race, I have to do it, or it takes forever to get the stiffness and aches out of my legs.


                    A Dance with Monkeys

                      a section of the Cape Cod rail trail
                      Hey, where? I just ran the Woods Hole to Falmouth trail, 4 miles (each way). What a beautiful run!!
                        Hey, where? I just ran the Woods Hole to Falmouth trail, 4 miles (each way). What a beautiful run!!
                        Hmmm this was back in the fall of 2002 so my memory is a bit foggy but it was from somewhere around Harwich up to Wellfleet--21+ miles total. It was beautiful, most of it. But I wound up pretty dehydrated and depleted and it took a couple of weeks to recover. I wound up getting injured (achilles) a couple of week later and one week before my goal marathon. So all in all that run probably cost me several minutes in the marathon.

                        Runners run.

                          Good info. Thanks to all.
                          E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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