Training

Recovery runs – Are you doing them right?

Jan 20, 2020

Recovery runs

Recovery runs are often disregarded and not seen as part of training – which is a huge pity. The goal is RECOVERY, something many runners don’t think is necessary, until they start including it, and feel the benefits of it in their performance.

Magic happens when our bodies rest – this is where adaption and growth takes place, this is where you actually get fitter – not during hard training sessions at high intensities.

Runners tend to include recovery runs (just for the sake of ticking them off in a programme) but then they work too hard to allow optimal recovery. Their bodies are stressed further, the muscles don’t recover, the immune system is weakened, more cortisol and other stress hormones are released, which often this ends up in sickness, injuries and lack of motivation.

Recovery runs are not just fillers in a busy week of training and, as a coach, it is a strategic decision to include these in my clients’ plans.  I name runs for my clients e.g. tempo or easy or recovery etc and explain how they must be run – there is no point in just telling someone to run 10km.

Get into the habit of setting a goal or purpose for each of your runs. Focus on that goal in training, and over time, you will see a difference in your performance. Stop aimlessly running junk miles – always ask…”so what?”

It takes practice to get used to running shorter recovery runs at slower paces. Teach yourself to embrace these runs, so you can put 120% effort into the harder sessions that push your limits and develop your mental strength, when it counts.

What is a recovery run?

– A short run
– Very easy pace (Rate of perceived effort – REP – is about 5/10)
– The focus is not on distance or pace or intensity

When should recovery runs be done?

The day after a hard workout or after a hard week of training e.g. speedwork, hills, long runs, weight training sessions

Christine Prokopiak


Christine is a running coach and nutrition specialist based with Sole Buddies #LiveLife in Cape Town. She is also the co-anchor for the GerhardandChristineLiveLife podcast, and co-founder of For The Long Run, a social upliftment project and registered NPO in Fisantekraal. Read more about Sole Buddies here. 

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