The recovery run is dead

Ok, it’s time to kill off the “recovery’ run. It’s a misnomer. I feel like when people use this term they aren’t actually thinking about what this type of run is doing to their body physiologically versus what they think they are trying to achieve out of it or that they are simply using it as a throw away term to describe a social run. If you want to recover from a training session then do it properly.

What is the point of ‘recovery?’
The idea of ‘recovery’ is to implement a strategy that allows the body to reduce or heal mental or physical fatigue, usually from training. Conversely if you look at running, what you get is stress on the cardio vascular system, impact on the joints and muscle damage. Supporters of the ‘recovery’ run will say that its done at a slower pace thereby not having as much impact as a normal run or a run of substance ie: tempo, speed work and also that active recovery is important.

Well here’s my take. Firstly running is running. If you are running you are subjecting the body to the same forces as a normal training run, just at a lesser intensity, ie: you are still causing damage. For me there is no such thing as a ‘recovery’ run, I call these base building or aerobic runs. Then there’s the active recovery element of this so called run. When it comes to this I’m lucky that as a triathlon coach I have a wider knowledge base and understand that there are far better ways to achieve active recovery versus just programming in another run. Without a doubt an easy spin on the bike or easy swimming session are far better tools for active recovery then a run. With the easy spin you have very low impact and sustaining a higher cadence in the 90-100rpm range assists greatly with blood circulation. Then there is swimming. Plenty of research has been done on the benefits of hydrotherapy for recovery and with near zero gravity there is next to no impact on the joints of the lower body. Anecdotally, I find my body pulls up feeling almost brand new after these type of sessions whereas another run just puts me deeper in the hole.

Of course if recovery is the real aim then there are plenty of other methods that will prove better. None better than a good old quality sleep. So let’s all do ourselves a favour and kill off the term ‘recovery’ run and stop latching onto trendy fitness fads and terms.

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