07 March 2012

The Joy of Running Slow

Because running fast is more fun than running slow.
                                                  --Frank Shorter

Today I ran easy. In fact, today I jogged. I ran five and a half miles in 53:03. That’s 9:39 per mile. I haven’t run that easily since my first few weeks back after surgery. But I needed a run like that. This week I’ll run around 55-58 miles, a total I haven’t run in over a year. I ran a little over 18 miles on Sunday, four on Monday, and 11 yesterday at 7:58 pace. I will run a 10k tempo run tomorrow morning, and I will run the City-Pier-City Half-Marathon on Sunday. Because I’m training for a marathon and because running economy is important to marathon success and because running economy is most improved by running volume, I needed to run today, but I didn’t need to stress my body any more than I am already stressing it. This easy run was perfect.

And I felt great while completing it and all day after finishing it.

For a nice review of the benefits of recovery runs, check out this article by Matt Fitzgerald. I think Fitzgerald does a nice job of explaining what value the recovery run offers, but I do disagree with him on two accounts. He doesn’t necessarily believe that recovery runs should feel easy. He argues that because you begin the run in a fatigued state—usually caused by a fatigue-inducing workout from the previous day, these runs help your body learn to run more efficiently in a fatigued state and allow you to, “[squeeze] more out of your key workouts.” Because you are basically extending the previous day’s hard effort, Fitzgerald believes it’s okay for you to feel miserable during a recovery run.

While I agree that recovery runs do help you achieve a better level of fitness, I do not believe that a recovery run is something that you should feel miserable doing. This morning I began my run feeling stiff, even awkward in my stride. However, after a mile or so of easy running, my body started to loosen up, my stride felt more regular, and by the end of the run, I felt like I was ready again to tackle some higher-paced work. Interestingly, the run got easier as I went along, but my pace during each mile got quicker. Like a well-paced tempo run, a recovery run should leave you feeling invigorated. It should also help you feel recovered—like the title suggests.

Feeling miserable throughout the duration of a recovery run should be a signal that your recovery run is being run too quickly. This is why I disagree with Fitzgerald when he states that, “There are no absolute rules governing the appropriate pace or duration of recovery runs.” I think there is at least one absolute rule: You cannot go too slowly. Another one might be: You can go too hard. If I plug my half-marathon PR (1:32.20) into the McMillan Running Calculator, I’ll find that Greg McMillan suggests that I should run recovery runs at 8:56 to 9:26 pace, not a very quick pace for someone who can run 13 miles at 7:02 per mile. (Since I could not run my half PR right now, McMillan would have probably liked my pace this morning.) Additionally, Pete Pfitzinger, in a recent webinar, suggested that recovery runs should be run at less than 76% of your heart rate maximum. Pfitzinger offers maximum and minimum heart rate standards for six of the seven types of runs he believes runners should be doing.  I think it's no accident that he has no minimum for the recovery run.

I had a great time running this morning. Other than just enjoying myself, I had two goals today, and neither included a certain time nor a certain distance. My aims were to feel better at the end of my run than I did at the beginning and to spend about an hour talking with The Jewish Stallion. I accomplished both objectives.

As always feel free to click the link below and view my training log. Also, feel free to leave me any comments or questions about my training or yours. Thanks for reading.

Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details

No comments:

Post a Comment