Like other ingredients of training, a recovery run is equally important. It not only allows one to adopt training well but allows other benefits such as fat adaptation, improving running form, work on technique, and much more. A recovery run or a slow run must form part of the planned training program as it benefits in many ways.
What is a Recovery Run
A recovery run is a slow run with lower intensity and is performed within 24 hours of a fast run or a hard training session. As the name suggests, the purpose of the run is to allow the body to recover from a hard training session and get ready for the next one. The question arises, why not rest to enable the body to be ready for the next training session? Well! Recovery run provides an active route to recovery. This means that you do not rest a muscle but take it out from hard work to easy work. Recovery run cannot replace rest though.
How to Plan a Recovery Run
During a recovery run, you should be able to have a conversation with a fellow runner. It is important that you do not stress your body as it is being done for the purpose of recovery. The best way to do it is to run at 60% of your reserve heart rate.
To calculate your reserve heart rate, you need to have your ‘Resting Heart Rate’ and your maximum heart rate. For resting heart rate, just lie down for about 5 minutes with no activity. Then measure your pulse for 10 seconds. Multiply it by 6 to know your resting heart rate. You can take someone’s help or use a heart rate measuring device/ watch. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Hence your reserve heart rate is Maximum heart rate minus resting heart rate. Let us take an example.
“I am 48 years of age and my resting heart rate is 52. The maximum permitted heart rate is 220 minus 48 equal to 172. Reserve heart rate is 172 minus 52 equal to 120. Hence for a recovery run, I must run at 60% of reserve heart rate. 60% of 120 is 72. Hence recovery run heart rate should be 52 plus 72 equal to 124 or below.”
Importance of Recovery Run
- As we train our body gets adopted to the aerobic training and the pace. It is important to shake the body out of the stress and fast pace. Getting a slow pace run helps mind and body to get out of unwanted adaptation.
- Slow aerobic runs are supported by fat based fuel as fat is a more efficient and abundant fuel source. This process is known as fat adaptation. Fast runs upwards of two hours deplete muscle glycogen from carbohydrates. Slow runs on the other hand use more of fat as fuel source and conserve fuel from carbohydrates and proteins.
- Fat metabolism need oxygen to convert to fuel. A slow run allows body conditioning to use fat as its main energy source. Eventually this adaptation will allow to run longer distance without having need to refuel.
- No matter how fast or slow we run, every run trains cardio, respiratory and skeletomuscular systems. The coordination achieved at slow pace builds coordination at higher pace.
- Slow runs are extremely important in improving tendons, ligaments, joints and bones in adaptation of stresses. It strengthen them and hence help avoid injuries.
- Slow run gives time to check the running technique and work on it. During faster runs enough of blood is not available to brain to focus well. However, during recovery run one can focus on running form.
Recovery Run Frequency
One can have a recovery run as many times as the body demands. Generally, after a race or an intense workout, a recovery run is a good option. In the case of planned training, having a rest day and a recovery run day or a slow run day per week is a good idea. Recovery run allows improving overall running and hence will result in faster long runs.
Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness expert H2F Care