The art of the recovery run (and a winner)

When I first started running, I’d always end my week with my long run, then take the next day off. This worked fine, but a few years back I started experimenting with a shorter, very easy run the day after my long runs. This has been routine ever since because I find I get much more out of it than pure rest.

Making a run into a good recovery run, however, takes some trial and error. Here are my suggestions for getting the most out of this run:

  • Do it the day after a hard workout (either a long run or speed work)
  • Pick an easy route, nothing to hilly, if possible
  • Make it short–no more than about six or seven miles
  • Do it alone so that you don’t get lured into running faster than you should
  • Unless–you run with someone who is a slower runner than you (this can be a great opportunity to run with someone with whom you might not otherwise train)
  • Leave the Garmin at home. Tune into your body instead
  • Take this time to focus on form and landing quietly

Recovery runs are sometimes my favorite runs. Who doesn’t love an easy carefree run? But after, my legs always feel “cleared out” and ready to move on to harder training again. If you don’t’ have recovery runs in your routine, give one a try and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your overall running.

Do you incorporate recovery runs into your routine? 

If you entered my giveaway for the Altra Zero Drops, picked number 99, which is Katherine at Neon Blonde Runner! Congrats Katherine–email me and we’ll get you in touch with Altra.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


  1. says

    Very good suggestions. I tried to do a recover run after the long distance workouts or races but it didn’t work for me; better a day of rest or an easy workout in the swimming pool.

  2. says

    I really need to learn the art of the recovery run. AKA I just need to leave my Garmin at home! I always end up lamenting about my pace; even though a recovery run is supposed to be sloooow. Why am I so hard on myself?!

    I usually rest the days after long runs because right now my body just needs to take it slowly/be careful about injury…but I do hope that eventually I’ll be able to do post-LR recovery runs because it definitely makes me feel A LOT better!
    Kara recently posted..Learning From Every RunMy Profile

  3. says

    Great post. I do like to keep running but had no “art” to it. This sounds like really good guidelines…

    by the way (I love it) “keep it short, only 6-7 miles…” spoken like a true distance runner… tee hee. Not really “short” for me now-a-days. But hopefully it will be again if I ever start training for a full again.
    Jen recently posted..Post race blues: What’s next?My Profile

  4. says

    Darn it, I wanted those shoes, but congrats to Neon Blonde. I might have to get them anyway.

    Great points about the recovery run. I typically do not run after a long run day, but think this makes a lot of sense. Once I can actually DO a long run again, I will give it a try.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Do Runners Wear Out?My Profile

  5. says

    I have always contemplated doing an easy couple of miles the day after my long run which I do on Sunday. My hard workouts are on Wednesday & Friday. Would you take Saturday off with this schedule? Typically Saturday is an optional easy 60 minutes or spinning and Monday is off.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Hippie Chick 1/2 MarathonMy Profile

  6. says

    Oh my goodness, this is incredible news about the shoes!!!!! I was reading the post because I legit wanted to learn about recovery runs, I was so pleasantly surprised to find my name, thank you so much. I’ll send you an e-mail in a minute.

    So here’s how I feel about recovery runs…I usually end up just taking a rest day after a tough workout because I was afraid of having another stress fracture. But I’ve been fine for over a year, so maybe it’s time to start adding them in. These are some great tips, thanks for sharing!
    Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner recently posted..Cap2Cap Century Bike RideMy Profile

  7. says

    I haven’t tried it to much but I do always feel better. I usually ride the next day and that seems to have the same effect for me.

  8. says hates me…

    “Make it short–no more than about six or seven miles”

    Remembering of course that to some folks, six or seven miles may be long…
    Jamoosh recently posted..Goal MeMy Profile

  9. says

    I started doing recovery runs after long runs this training cycle & so far I’m not sure what I think! While it’s nice to have a good carefree run, part of me misses giving up my weekend to a long run, and then giving up even more of it to recovery run after a long run … Of course, I might change my mind when I see how much it helps my marathon time. :) What I did this training cycle was did half the distance of my long run (i.e. 20 on Saturday, 10 on Sunday)… I figure it’s a good way to condition myself to run on tired legs while also building in recovery at the same time.
    Alyssa recently posted..Countdown to Ogden: Week 11My Profile

  10. says

    I agree! I have a friend who is getting back into running after a long break, so I run with her the day after my long run! This slows me way down and keeps me from running too fast or too far. It is a great way for us to spend time together and for her not to feel rushed!
    Kyria recently posted..Do and Do Not (3): RunningMy Profile

  11. says

    I have been doing recovery runs on Sunday (the day after my long run) for quite some time now and I love it. For my real long runs, I keep it super short with about 2-3 miles, but for my medium long runs I will go about 4-5 miles. It just feels good to shake things out and enjoy an easy run that isn’t at 5am because Sundays I sleep in and run whenever I can fit it in.
    J recently posted..Breaking 20My Profile

  12. says

    I ignored recovery runs for the longest time. now I know just how much they matter and make a difference. Great post!

    Also, Saturday for either lunch or dinner (probably dinner) would likely work best for me. I’m not sure if there is going to be a formal meet up or not. Alicia from Poise in Parma originally planned to organize one but then she had a conflicting commitment for this weekend and things never got picked up for planning one.
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..Pure IndulgenceMy Profile

  13. says

    Oh Pooh! I missed the give away and it was a good one! Well, congrats to Katherine (lucky gal!).
    As for recovery runs, I like to take the day after a long run and go for a long recovery walk. I use the excuse that the dog needs the recovery but I really think I’m fooling myself. 😉
    Joanne recently posted..McMillan Running–SundayMy Profile

  14. says

    I know recovery runs are SO important. I unfortunately don’t run many long runs, but if I did then I’d think recovery would be a priority for me…

    especially listening to you and how you’ve made long distance running a way of life AND you kick butt at it!
    marissa recently posted..our trip and a new Athleta store!My Profile

  15. says

    I love a good recovery run! Last year when I did the Cache-Teton Epic Relay, I ended up running 4 legs because one of our runners got injured. I ended up running a total of 20 something miles. The next morning I got up and ran 4 miles and everybody thought I was crazy, but it cleared out my legs and I wasn’t nearly as sore as I would’ve been if I didn’t run.
    Ara recently posted..My Kona DreamMy Profile

  16. says

    My favorite tip? Leave your Garmin home. When I’m running on a normal basis and tracking miles or constantly listening to the same playlist on my iPod, it’s SUPER refreshing to go “naked”. Just you and your run.