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December 18, 2022

There is a well-known statement when it comes to training, ‘The majority of runners run their easy runs too hard and their hard runs too easy.’

I would imagine we have all heard this statement and I also imagine that for the majority of us it is true!

It is so easy to end up doing all our weekly sessions at a similar pace but if we want to see improvement we need to have 1-2 quality sessions a week and to do that we need to have some easy or recovery runs so we are recovered and ready for the harder sessions. 


In this week’s Run to the Hills’ podcast (Episode 18) listeners sent in questions about training and coaching which Dave Troman (Love to Run Coaching) and Edwina Sutton (cohost of Run to the Hills) expertly answered.

In one of the questions about emerging technology in training Dave said this as part of his answer:-

‘The hardest sessions to get your athletes to do well are the recovery runs and the aerobic base runs and I don't want to generalise too much here but men in groups running together you can basically kiss that goodbye if it's supposed to be a recovery run because we're just going to speed up too much and run too hard.’

Dave went on to explain how he uses technology to help him and the athletes he coaches: -

So I personally use technology with my athletes to make sure that they're doing recovery runs slow enough whether that is by pace if they're on even terrain or whether that's by heart rate if they're on uneven terrain. I've been running for 40 years and 10 years ago I got a heart rate monitor and I realised that I've been doing my recovery runs way too fast for 30 years! So we can use technology to help us in our recovery runs and I think that is probably the most important way of using them.

Thanks to Dave for that great advice. If you want to hear the full answer to the question and lots of other questions about coaching do listen to Episode 18 of ‘Run to the Hills.' 


Finally here is some great advice from Matt Fitzgerald in an article he wrote for Active.com called ‘A Fresh Perspective on Recovery Runs’


Tips for Effective Use of Recovery Runs

  • Whenever you run again within 24 hours of completing a key workout (or any run that has left you severely fatigued or exhausted), the follow-up run should usually be a recovery run.
  • Recovery runs are only necessary if you run four times a week or more.
    • If you run just three times per week, each run should be a "key workout" followed by a day off. 
    • If you run four times a week, your first three runs should be key workouts and your fourth run only needs to be a recovery run if it is done the day after a key workout instead of the day after a rest day.
    • If you run five times a week, at least one run should be a recovery run.
    • If you run six or more times a week, at least two runs should be recovery runs.
  • There's seldom a need to insert two easy runs between hard runs, and it's seldom advisable to do two consecutive hard runs within 24 hours.
  • Recovery runs are largely unnecessary during base training, when most of your workouts are moderate in both intensity and duration. When you begin doing formal high-intensity workouts and exhaustive long runs, it's time to begin doing recovery runs in roughly a 1:1 ratio with these key workouts.
  • There are no absolute rules governing the appropriate duration and pace of recovery runs.
    • A recovery run can be as long and fast as you want, provided it does not affect your performance in your next scheduled key workout.
    • In most cases, however, recovery runs cannot be particularly long or fast without sabotaging recovery from the previous key workout or sabotaging performance in your next one.
    • A little experimentation is needed to find the recovery run formula that works best for each individual runner.
  • Don't be too proud to run very slowly in your recovery runs, as Kenya's runners are famous for doing. Even very slow running counts as pre-fatigued running practice that will yield improvements in your running economy and running very slowly allows you to run longer without sabotaging your next key workout.

You can find all of our podcast and you tube information on this page Run to the Hills 

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