10 reasons to avoid cheating on your recovery days and I met the IronCowboy!

When I first got into marathon training 5-6 years ago I was all about pushing myself hard every. single. day.  I thought the key to getting faster was all about going faster today than whatever I did yesterday.  

I now stick to my recovery day paces after a hard run like glue and I am faster and stronger by training this way compared to my old methods.  The reason why—>  I can actually give a lot more during my speed work sessions and key workouts because I am actually allowing my body to recover on the other days.  Before I could never hit the paces that I wanted for my speed workouts or tempo runs because I was too tired from the previous day and that resulted in 6 C (remember I used to be a teacher so I like to grade things) workouts each week vs now getting a few A+ workouts each week with plenty of recovery in between.  A few A+ workouts are much more beneficial come race day than a whole lot of average workouts that left me feeling flat and overtrained.   

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You may feel like you are holding yourself back and going too slow on your easy/recovery days but I think it is crazy important to stick to those slower paces after a hard workout.   And if you really killed it in your workout the previous day then those slower paces are still probably going to feel a bit challenging.

1.  They keep us from going crazy.  I love recovery runs because they allow me to still go out and sweat a bit and get some endorphins.  They make it so that I can still get in a few miles in between hard runs without the risk of injury that comes along with running fast every day.    

2.  You are building up your running volume.  I like to hit about 50 miles a week but there is NO way I would be able to do 50 miles of fast miles a week. So, I do some fast, some moderate and some easy.  All of those miles combined = strengthening the muscles and building my aerobic fitness in order to carry me 26.2 miles come October 3rd.  

3.  It is the perfect time to focus on your form.  You aren’t huffing and puffing from running fast and so it is the perfect opportunity to pay attention to your cadence, posture, arm swing etc.  I tend to have chicken arms while I run (that is what my coach calls them) and so today I worked on bringing my elbows back behind me rather than out to the sides.

4.  I don’t understand all of the scientific reasons (and lactic acid theories seem to always be changing) but I KNOW that once I get my body moving a bit the day after a hard workout, I always feel better.  Just getting the blood flowing and being outside moving makes the soreness from the previous workout melt away.

5.  Variety.  I had a friend asked me the other day how running 6 days a week isn’t monotonous for me.  My answer—>  Because each run is so different!  I would go crazy if every run was hard or a speed workout now.  By throwing in recovery days after the hard days it switches things up and keeps it all exciting. 

6.  They most definitely are not POINTLESS miles.  Recovery runs boost your fitness too!  They challenge ‘you to run in a pre-fatigued state (i.e. a state of lingering fatigue from previous training).’  

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7.  You are probably going to feel pretty darn tired the day after a speed workout.  It is going to be a challenge to get yourself out the door because you are tired but if you do you are building up your mental strength.  You are training your brain to tell your body to run even when you don’t feel like rainbows and sunshine.  

8.  You strengthen different muscle groups!  (source)

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9.  They are stress-free.  You can leave without any electronics and just go out and listen to your feet hitting the ground and your breathing.  They allow you to relax a bit and I love listening to my favorite slow/peaceful songs.  I stop for drinks, to take running selfies (okay, just me) or to take in the view.  

10.  You get the chance to run on softer surfaces.  Whenever I am doing an easy run and there is a long stretch of grass next to the sidewalk—> I run on the grass.  Easy runs make it possible to run on softer surfaces like dirt, the trails or grass because you are going slower and you don’t have to worry as much about twisting your ankle on the uneven surfaces like you do when you are running fast.  Take advantage of the softer surfaces and your body will thank you as a result.  


And just a few things to talk about:

Today Brooke and I were out and about and I recognized the IronCowboy (he just completed 50 full Ironman distances in 50 days in 50 states!!!!) and I started talking to him.  He was so nice and he is an incredibly strong (mentally and physically) person!  

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My favorite little sidekick.

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I get this excited about Nordstrom too:

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My mom just sent this to me and I really like it:

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I am pretty sure at this point of life Brooke goes through about 11 wardrobe changes a day.

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Are you good about taking your recovery days easy?  Is it hard for you to hold back?

How would you grade your run today?

What are your Thursday night plans?

What has changed about your running and training over the years?

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Looks like you have a little diva on your hands! I get excited about Nordstroms and clothes too.

Your tips are amazing and I think they also apply to other forms of fitness and sports as well.


I used to be bad about recovery days and wanted to go fast ALWAYS. Now I actually take my recovery seriously, and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my training. Recovery days are for real, people!

My run today was a solid A+! I was excited to hit my progressive tempo paces and felt great the whole time!

Tonight is my dad’s birthday, so we are having a family dinner to celebrate him!


I don’t usually have a problem taking easy days. I used to worry about my rest days too and I don’t stress about them anymore either. My body needs time to recover too! I used to think that I couldn’t alter my training from the plan. Whatever was there had to be done, even if I wasn’t feeling well or just didn’t have enough hours in the day. I understand the importance of rest, fueling and respecting my body much more now than I used to!

I’m spending time with my little sister while she’s in town!


I love active recovery days!! I’m the worst at taking actual rest days.
Today’s run: B+
Thursday night plans: boot camp and then dinner with my husband :)
I run a lot more miles now, but most of them are at a slower pace.


I definitely learned over the years that I do best pushing hard on my workout days and going slow on my easy days. No shame in going two minutes slower than my marathon pace on recovery days!
Today’s run was an A+: progressive goal pace run with a fast finish! Plus the weather was perfect, which always helps mentally.


Ah I’ve just started in the past year doing that, keeping my easy runs easy! My weekends are for distance, two weekdays are speedy and one is just a haaang out get some movement in my legs. it’s a good time.


YES! I just posted about this on my own blog. This was my biggest mistake when I started running. Pushing myself too hard all the time. I always thought if I ran harder now I’d run faster during my race. I think it’s a huge misconception about running.

Isn’t the Iron Cowboy so nice? I was so impressed by him and his family when we went to run with them. He took time to take pictures, sign autographs and personally thank ever single person there. And his wife and daughter (I only met one) were that way too.


I am pretty good on my recovery days because I run with a friend and we hold a conversational pace while catching up.
Today’s run was a hard 13.1-mile trail run.


I actually have to wear my watch on my recovery runs for this very reason. If I don’t I know I will slip into my comfortable pace which is too fast for a recovery run. During almost all of my recovery runs I have to force myself to slow down, but I know it makes my quality workouts better and I feel way better!


I firmly believe that the only miles that are “junk miles” are those that are attempted at a non recovery pace on a recovery day. Running slow and taking it easy feels great, and you’re right, it adds to overall time on your feet.
My run today was HOT, but ok… I’ll give it a 7. It also happened to be 7 miles, so that’s fitting.
My running has become more easy going over the years. For the first time in FOREVER, I’m actually not training for anything right now. No fall marathon, no ultras, no fast 5k. Nothing. I’m still running, but I’m giving my mind and body a respite from years of hard work. A few years ago, I never would have allowed myself to do this, but now, it feels great.


I love the grading system for runs and I’ve been reading you so long I remember when you were a teacher :) BTW-are you still going back to school this fall? I’m teaching this year at the U and class starts Monday ah!!


I love Ironcowboy! He is a hero!
I totally agree about the recovery: I am doing more rest days/cross train because I realized that if I run 3 days in a row, my pace is negatively affected.


Brooke’s face is priceless. Nordstroms really does have the best shoe selection!

I do love my easy days and my rest days. I couldn’t survive a tough day of hill training, followed by an equally hard day of running. My body needs to take it down a notch.

I’m more confident in my running. After doing several half-marathons I know I have a solid training plan.

I’m going to do a short run and some strength training. Then it’s time to eat. I’m a regular party animal.


That’s so cool you met the Iron Cowboy! He is SO inspirational. I loved following his story. Plus he’s from my city so I have a big soft spot for him.


Point #7 is it for me… building up my mental strength is KEY. I tell everybody that a marathon is 10% training and 90% mental. Not that you only have to put 10% of training in… no way! But whatever training you DID do, if your mental game is off, then it’s all for nothing.


This is great advice!
When I first started running, I skipped the rest days in my Couch 25k plan, so I learned the hard way to take rest/recovery days. Now I run 4-5 days a week (2 easy, 1 or 2 tempo/speed/or hills, 1 long) and bike on my off days.


My run today was great! 4 miles easy. 7.3 mph avg

Thurs night= drinks with my coworkers and then home for a date with my bf!:)

My running has way changed. I run way fewer times per week than I used to, I don’t run if I don’t feel like it or if I’m injured(ya I used to be very unhealthy) and I don’t feel a compulsion to!


I’ve been riding my bike on 1-2 of my easy run days instead of running and my long runs and speed work have gone so much better. There was an article in Zelle called “Why Runners Should Train Like Triathletes.” Maybe it’s my age (51) but running 5 days a week or more just doesn’t work as well anymore. I now take my rest days very seriously!


You are rocking it Kathy! Such a good idea to switch out 1-2 days for biking. All of my triathlete friends rarely get injured—> there must be something to it!


So cool you got to meet the IronCowboy – although Brooke does not look like she was too impressed ;)

No run for me today but I did go on a group run last night which was unplanned. I tend to stick to my run schedule but I only run 3 times a week – this week will be four (assuming I keep my Sunday long run) which will be the first time in a LONG time I run 4 times in one week. I usually do barre classes Mon/Wed/Thurs and then take Saturday completely off. I have noticed when I don’t take Saturday off my Sunday long runs are A LOT harder so I definitely agree recovery is important and essential.


I love your running pic! You look super strong and happy!

Today was our first day running with my xc team. It was 99 degrees! I think that’s the hottest I’ve ever been on a run, but thankfully it was a recovery day to prep for sprints tomorrow!


Totally loved this post. I’m training for my first marathon, and I consistently want to go faster than my coach wants me to run. Posts like this remind me of the importance (for SO SO SO many reasons!) of taking those easy days just that—EASY! :)


AHHHH yay for your first marathon! I am stoked for you. Please keep me updated on how your training goes and the race!


The weird thing about recovery miles for me is that when I actually try to go slower I end up sort of trudging instead of running.

My run today was a solid B recovery run.

I have super exciting plans to watch tv and veg tonight.

My running and training has gotten a lot more consistent over the last few years.


Hey janae! Just wanted to let you know (if you don’t already) that there’s a huge bud light ad/banner on your blog!
It doesn’t bother me at all but it seems a bit contradictory to your beliefs!


Thank you so much for the heads up! I will look into that Ellie! Hope you are having a fabulous day!


All of Brooke’s outfits! Too cute!


I love easy recovery runs.
Todays run was a C because I had on new shoes and need to exchange them.
Have a great Friday!


-I think I do a pretty good job with recovery days.
-No run today, I have a shin splint creeping up. But I knew I was do for new shoes soon anyway. Poor me has to go to Runners Performance today (inside I’m as excited as a kid going to toy’s r us!!) to get NEW shoes!
-Thursday night was suppose to be BB, but there was a football game on….too soon in my opinion :( so instead I watched a video for work and went to bed by 9:00! :)
-I’m actually training for things! LOL
I can’t believe you met the IRONCOWBOY!!! That’s totally awesome! :)


I cannot believe you ran into the IRONCOWBOY!! that is so so AWESOME!!!!! I love love recovery runs. They make me just happy as can be. :)


Great tips!!


Brooke’s reaction to the shoe department = my reaction in cosmetics.


I am pretty good about recovery days, but I could probably be better about making them more active recovery days. Sometimes soreness makes it hard for me to get out and get moving


Your mom’s text is hilarious. I’ve burned calories that way before too :)


That is so neat that you met the Iron Cowboy! He is amazing! I followed his trek across the United States and I was floored by his passion, motivation and persistence! So cool!


Very timely post! I am recovering from a piriformis injury that happened when I thought I was invincible and ran instead of taking a rest day. I’ve learned it’s so important to take recovery seriously — whether it’s easy running or complete rest!


I love the brownie quote from your mom. Funny! If only those burned calories would count on my body.
You have grown so much in the last couple of years with your training and have taught me so much too! Thank u for that Janae!
Brookes black and white stripe dress is adorable!


Ha!!! I love your mom. :)

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