Are your recovery runs really at a recovery pace?

One of my friends and I were talking about how it can be hard to find the balance in weekly training and where our social run club night fits in to this.

Key word being social, we start & finish at a brewery after all. But there are some super speedy humans amongst our group!

So this got me thinking, it makes sense that run club night can be a recovery run as it’s often shortish in distance (between 5 and 10 kilometres), and there’s no specific structure; we just get together and run.

But even this can be hard to do depending on who you’re chatting with. If you get caught up with the speedsters at the front, all of a sudden your planned recovery run can be bordering on a tempo run 😅

There are two main mistakes I see:

  1. Having good intentions, but still running the same pace that they do for every other run
  2. Squeezing an extra run into their week with the excuse of calling it a ‘recovery run’

I get it – running is awesome! And when you’re feeling good, you want more.

But that can be a slippery slope to an overuse injury and/or burnout.

It can also affect your other runs in your plan.

It’s important to think of the big picture with respect to your training plan and to trust the process. If you work with a coach, trust their expertise – it’s what you’re paying them for after all. 

If you add extra distance, or run at a faster pace, you’re not going to be well recovered for your other workouts. Maybe you’re not able to hit your pace goals for your speed work the next day, or your HR is too high on you long run because you’re not well recovered.

So how do we avoid burnout? 

First and foremost – keep your easy days easy and your hard days hard!

Sometimes it can take some trial and error to find your individual sweet spot for training volume. Some runners thrive on big volume, others don’t; we are all so different after all.

Keeping a training diary can be helpful for this, as you may not see in the moment what has caused your injury, but having a diary to look back through can be helpful to pinpoint this.

If you have a love for pen and paper (like me), you can make your own training journal. If digital is more your game, use the private notes feature that is in your activity on Garmin Connect or Strava.

Stress fractures are a great example of where keeping track may be helpful. There can be many factors contributing to the cause, but stress fractures don’t happen overnight. Being able to look back at the change in your training/volume/diet/lifestyle/sleep habits etc can go a long way in helping to prevent it happening again in the future.

Signs that you might not be recovering well:

-getting sick often
-little niggles not getting better
-tired/fatigued all the time
-more irritable than usual
-higher resting heart rate
-lower heart rate variability
-poor sleep quality

So how do you know that your recovery run is actually considered a recovery run?

One great way is knowing your training paces. And the good news is, I have just the tool to help with that: a training paces calculator!

Take the guess work out and just plug in a recent race time, the calculator will take care of the rest. You can find it here: show me my training paces

Note: this is only really applicable to road running, as it doesn’t take into account elevation.

The training paces calculator can help you know where you need to be to avoid over or under training, and get the absolute most out of your runs. Let me know if you try it!

If you liked this post, you might find my post on  Heart Rate Training interesting. Click here to read

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