Team Injinji athlete and running coach Jeff Browning is back with another installment of "Head to Toe with Coach Jeff." Champion of the 2022 Moab 240 ultra race, Jeff Browning is a training expert. In this vlog, Coach Jeff highlights the benefits of incorporating easy recovery runs into your training plan, what pace and heart rate zones you should aim for, and how often you should be doing recovery runs based on your running schedule.
The purpose of recovery runs is mainly to recruit extra muscles that you don’t normally use while running. Recovery runs should come after a hard workout when you have cumulative fatigue or are coming off of a harder workout fatigue. For example, after a long run, a speed workout, or a more intense workout. When you have that cumulative fatigue, the body has to recruit extra muscle fibers—different muscle fibers than it normally would. Over time, that helps to build efficiency with our running.
If you only run three days per week, then you don’t really need recovery runs. You would just run every other day and have your rest days in between. If you run four days per week, I would recommend doing three key workouts, with the fourth workout would as your recovery run. Recovery runs are supposed to be really easy, so don’t worry about your pace. You should be able to talk and hold a conversational pace, and it can be extra slow if you need it. But it needs to be in an aerobic zone, either Zone 1 or Zone 2 heartrate, a pretty low Zone 2 heart rate is preferable.
If you run five days a week, you can have one or two recovery runs, and if you run six days a week, you can have two recovery runs. These will always come after a big workout and will especially help to flush things out. Recovery runs can help circulation, blood flow, and soreness. And most importantly, will recruit those extra muscles that you normally wouldn’t use, to build efficiency. Giddyup!