Why Recovery Runs are Beneficial to Runners

Why Recovery Runs are Beneficial to Runners

June 26, 2023

Why Recovery Runs are Beneficial to Runners

As a long-distance runner, you understand the physical and mental demands that come with training for races and pushing your limits. While it’s essential to challenge yourself with intense workouts, it’s equally important to incorporate recovery runs into your exercise regime. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of recovery running, why it is crucial for long distance runners, and look at other effective recovery exercises to enhance your overall performance. 

What are Recovery Runs? 

Recovery runs are easy-paced runs that allow your body to recover from harder training sessions. They are typically shorter and slower in duration and intensity compared to your key workouts. The purpose of these runs is to aid in the recovery process by reducing inflammation, soreness, and fatigue, both physically and mentally. 

Recovery runs help the nervous system recover from fatigue and alleviate mental fatigue from training. While rest days are crucial for your training, some runners prefer to incorporate recovery runs to stay active while still allowing their bodies to recover. 

The Benefits of Recovery Runs 

Physical Recovery 

Recovery runs play a vital role in facilitating physical recovery from intense training sessions. They help reduce inflammation, clear lactic acid build-up, and promote blood flow to the muscles. While lactic acid levels return to normal within an hour after a workout, recovery runs aid in the overall process of muscle repair and glycogen replenishment. 

Mental Recovery 

Training for long distance races can take a toll on your mental well-being. Recovery runs provide an opportunity for mental recovery by allowing you to enjoy an easier, more relaxed run. This break from intense workouts helps reduce stress and mental fatigue, allowing you to approach your next key workout with renewed focus and motivation. 

Enhanced Fitness 

One of the significant benefits of recovery runs is that they contribute to improving your overall fitness. While recovery runs may not directly enhance recovery, they do increase your fitness level by challenging you to run in a pre-fatigued state. 

Studies have shown that fitness adaptations occur not only based on the amount of time you spend exercising but also on how much time you spend exercising beyond the point of initial fatigue. Recovery runs, being performed in a fatigued state, help push your body beyond its initial limits, leading to improved fitness gains. 

Neuromuscular Adaptations 

When you engage in recovery runs, your brain is forced to alter its muscle recruitment patterns. It avoids using worn-out muscle fibres and instead involves fresher muscle fibres that are less preferred under normal conditions. This adaptation promotes more efficient running and conserves energy, ultimately improving your running economy in the long run. 

Balancing Intensity 

Recovery runs play a crucial role in balancing the intensity of your training. While it’s essential to push yourself during key workouts, incorporating recovery runs helps prevent overtraining and reduces the risk of injury. It allows your body to adapt gradually to the demands of your training plan, ensuring long-term sustainability in your running journey. 

How Often Should You Incorporate Recovery Runs? 

The frequency of recovery runs depends on the number of weekly training sessions you have. If you run four times a week or more, recovery runs are highly recommended. For those who run three times a week, each run should be a “key workout” followed by a rest day. If you run five times a week, at least one run should be a recovery run. For those who run six or more times a week, incorporating two recovery runs is beneficial. 

It’s important to note that recovery runs should be done within 24 hours of completing a key workout or any run that has left you severely fatigued or exhausted. The duration and pace of recovery runs can vary, but it’s advisable to start with a slow pace, gradually increasing it as your body adapts. 

Other Effective Recovery Exercises 

While recovery runs are an excellent way to aid in your recovery process, there are other effective exercises you can incorporate into your routine. These exercises complement your running and promote overall strength, flexibility, and injury prevention. Here are a few examples: 

Yoga and Stretching:

Engaging in regular yoga sessions or incorporating stretching exercises can help improve flexibility, promote muscle recovery, and prevent injuries. 

Foam Rolling:

Using a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release can help alleviate muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and enhance recovery. 

Strength Training:

Incorporating strength training exercises, such as bodyweight exercises or weightlifting, helps strengthen muscles, prevent imbalances, and improve overall running performance. 


Engaging in low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine can provide cardiovascular benefits while minimizing the impact on your joints and muscles. 

Remember, finding the right balance between recovery runs and these additional exercises is crucial. It’s important to listen to your body and adjust your recovery routine based on your individual needs and training goals. 

Introducing Fitwins Virtual Running Challenges 

To make your training journey even more rewarding, you should try participating in Fitwins Virtual Running Challenges. Fitwins offers distance-based challenges using their app, which can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices. These challenges take you on exclusive routes through famous cities, such as Rome, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. 

Developed by competitive long distance runner Carl Ryde, Fitwins Virtual Running Challenges provide a unique and engaging way to track your distances covered and earn a well-deserved medal at the end of each month. It’s a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself, stay motivated, and connect with a community of like-minded runners. 

As a long-distance runner, incorporating recovery runs into your training plan is essential for your overall performance and well-being. These easy-paced runs aid in physical and mental recovery, enhance fitness, and promote neuromuscular adaptations. Alongside recovery runs, incorporating other effective recovery exercises will further strengthen your body, prevent injuries, and improve your running performance. 

Remember, finding the right balance between intense workouts and recovery is key. Listen to your body, adjust your training plan accordingly, and consider participating in Fitwins Virtual Running Challenges to make your training journey even more rewarding. Embrace the power of recovery and watch your running goals become a reality. 

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Not sure how virtual fitness works?

The easiest way to learn is to try Fitwins for yourself! The app is free to download, and you only pay for challenges you take part in, so why not take it for a test drive?

In the meantime, here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about how Fitwins compares to other virtual walking challenges.

No! We believe that flexibility is the key to fitness success, so instead of forcing you to complete a set distance, we let you set your own goal.  This means you can be flexible in how you complete YOUR challenge: so if you are smashing your target, you can raise the bar and aim for more. 

All entries into our challenge will receive a great medal, with a ribbon specific to the challenge type.

For our “iconic challenges”, your ribbon will have a unique design related to the challenge. For our regular monthly challenges, your ribbon will reflect the total distance you covered.

Running and walking ribbons are awarded based on 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200+ miles. Cycling ribbons are for distances of 50km, 100km, 200km, 500km, 1000km, 2000km and 3000km. 

Absolutely! Not only that, but all the distance you’ve covered since the start of the month will count, as the Fitwins App syncs with Strava and logs all activities from the start of the month, regardless of what date you sign up for the challenge. 

If you are hitting the streets with your app activated, verification is completed automatically by sycning with Strava. You can focus on completing your challenge, and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you’re using a treadmill, exercycle or other stationary equipment for some of your challenge, you’ll need to log this manually.


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