Quicker recoveries

This post isn’t what you think it’s about: how to recover more quickly from hard runs or races. Although I will give a nod to an article by elite runner Julia Lucas — well-written, witty and informative (that’s three elite women runners who can write clearly and appealingly: Lucas, Lauren Fleshman and Shannon Rowbury) — in the September issue of Running Times.

No, this post is about the fact that I’m doing my recovery runs faster these days than I have in the previous 18-24 months. A lot faster. Despite the horrible heat and humidity. Some of it can be explained by the fact that I’m actually trying to run faster on these runs. Coach Sandra noticed a recent recovery run that was an 11:00 pace and she said, “If you’re running that slow and really can’t run faster at a very easy effort, then stop the run. It means you need more recovery in the form of not running.”

Then she said, “You should be doing your recovery runs at 9:45 or faster. Why are you running them so slow?”

I had to think about that. I suspect it’s because when I was doing 80-95 mpw most weeks last year, that truly was as fast as I could go on those slower days. I even remember meeting Robert at our Blogging Runners meetup and feeling a little ashamed when he asked, “Why do you do your recovery runs so slow?” I just thought at the time that it was because I’m in my forties. But now I know it’s because I was just tired on my easy days. But the answer to her question was “habit.”

But now I’m running half that mileage. There’s no reason to be running 10:30+ miles. In recent weeks I’d started getting more toward the 10:00 side of the speed spectrum naturally anyway. Now I’ve picked things up further and seem no worse for the wear. I feel better when I’m running a little faster, and the boring recovery runs get done more quickly too. It’s also no longer such a dramatic shift in pace between fast and slow days.

Now I’m very curious to see how fast I’ll be doing these runs come fall/winter. 9:00? Or faster? That would be pretty neat.


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