When I trained for my first marathon, I really had no clue what I was doing. I saw that registration opened up one day and decided that it sounded like a fun challenge for me, so I signed up.
And then I realized I had no clue what I was doing, so I bought a book — 4 months to a 4 hour Marathon. A four-hour marathon sounded like a good number to shoot for, so why not?
The training plan was pretty great for a beginner (I do recommend it), as it gradually built my miles up from just a few miles to a training run as long as 24 miles (which I do not recommend, that’s another post in itself!). Within the book, they explain the difference between all the runs in the training plan — tempo, interval, long slow distance, and the recovery run.
Oh, the recovery run. The biggest marathon training mistakes you are making.
Why, you may ask?
Well, like me, you may have looked at this in your marathon training plan and scoffed at the super slow pace that it asks you to run. I can run faster than that, you think, this must be wrong.
But, it’s not wrong. Recovery runs have a number of purposes in your training plan.
It helps you build your mileage. Let’s face it, your body can’t handle hard run after hard run. Often times, you need a rest day to recover from that tempo workout… but with a recovery run (run the right way), you can add mileage. There have been studies that prove that the more you run, the faster you’ll be.
Your body learns how to deal with fatigue. When you hit “the wall” in the marathon, your body will be screaming to you to stop. Your knees, your quads and even maybe your wrists (true story) will be in pain. Building in a recovery run the day after a tough workout (or even a long run) teaches your body how to run when fatigued, preparing it for what will inevitably hit come marathon day.
It builds your mental game. If you run your recovery runs right, they will not be a walk in the park. In fact, they will probably be among the toughest runs that you have during your training. Just as much as it helps your body, it helps you mentally… and teaches you to be strong even when things aren’t going your way. Whether you are on mile 7 or 23 in the marathon, this comes in handy.
So, how fast should you be running your recovery runs? At about 65-70% effort. So if you are shooting for a four hour marathon, your recovery/easy run pace should be about 10:15 minutes/per mile. It can be slower than that — but definitely make sure it isn’t faster.
Check out Runner’s World to figure out your pace via their handy calculator.
Are you running your recovery runs at the right pace?
What’s the biggest training mistake you’ve made in the past?
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