Improving Aerobic Ability: The Recovery Run

Runners taking a relaxed pace in a 2.1 mile fun run.

The day after a hard run will leave you sore and aching, and relaxed, easy work is needed to repair your damaged muscles. A recovery run does not help you recover an ample amount, but each bit counts. Also, it does help you improve endurance by adding volume to your weeks worth of running. More volume, even if at an easy pace and for a short distance, adds up quickly, improving your stamina.

The recovery run is a variant of the easy run, but do not be mistaken. Many runners do not find it to be an easy run.

The recovery run:

Recovery runs are relaxed and help you increase your total klicks. As stated previously, these runs add volume which increase endurance. Endurance is a key component to how well you can run. Speed itself doesn’t matter. Being able to run 20km/h is great, but being able to hold that for more than 30 seconds is what puts you ahead at the end of a race. Runners need every single kilometre they can get out of their weeks worth of running; a recovery run squeezes out the few extra drops needed to give you the edge.

The hardest part of a recovery run is keeping your form perfect and dealing with the accumulated stress from previous workouts. It is a mental challenge. All runners deal with the psychological effects of a run, and learning how to ignore the fatigue in order to finish your run is an essential skill. Mastering the recovery run gives you an edge in endurance, and hones your ability to deal with aching limbs and the tiring effect of a run.

The best part about a recovery run is increasing blood flow to your limbs; blood flow aids in the removal of waste products and the transfer of nutrients to muscles. This can prevent your muscles from becoming stiff, and makes the next days training a little easier. Recovery is quickened by a recovery run. Keep that in mind. A recovery run not only helps increase volume and keeps your muscles pliant, it helps you get back to running hard intervals for serious gains. As long as the recovery run is truly at an easy pace, it can only aid. However, do you not run if you have an injury, that will prolong the period of time needed to repair it.

Recovery is quickened by a recovery run. Keep that in mind. A recovery run not only helps increase volume and keeps your muscles pliant, it helps you get back to running hard intervals for serious gains.

Choosing the distance:

Add a recovery run day after a tough day that left you sore. The run will not be easy, even if the pace suggests that it will. Keep it short, 30 minutes is plenty. Go slow. It’s easy to hurt yourself if you go too fast after a hard run day. An easy way to gauge if you have ran far enough is to compare how your legs feel from when you started to how they feel currently in the run.

If you’re like me, you like to keep track of time and distance for your runs and push the body instead of pulling back (which isn’t always smart!). For the recovery run, it should be between 20-30 minutes long, and just barely faster than your long run pace. A distance between 3-6k would work fine, it’s all up to you and how your body feels.

If you are better at listening to your body, try this: In any run, the blood flowing and reaching your muscles helps to partially relieve soreness. If your legs are feeling much better, it’s fine to stop, otherwise, keep going; treat it like a very long warm up run. However, don’t skimp on time or else there isn’t much point. Run for at least 20 minutes before you pull all stops.

Run and realize the benefits:

The recovery run is like an easy run, except instead of building up to a certain degree of fatigue, you start fatigued. Many systems in your body will behave differently due to this. All of your muscles fibers will be recruited due to this fatigue, although fast-twitch muscle fibers still won’t have a huge focus. Here are the benefits:

  • Strengthens all leg muscles.
  • Increases willpower and mental strength.
  • Increases running economy through volume.
  • Amps up training stress.
  • Flushes waste products out.
  • Aids in the speed of recovery.

The goal is to add volume, and recovery runs are a safe way to add to it. They aren’t easy, but they improve you significantly faster. Just make sure to stretch out those muscles afterwards!

Caleb Thompson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and other Amazon stores worldwide.

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