If you haven’t yet – be sure to catch Part 1 of our recovery interval discussion.
To recap – Why do we have recovery periods in a workout? ‘To catch our breath or course!’. There as much purpose in the recovery interval as there is in the effort interval itself.
Hopefully you have now mastered the art of slowing down your recovery intervals and you are a pro at running intervals at prescribed paces with pristine accuracy courtesy of your great discipline.
How Long Should Recovery Intervals Be?
How long your recovery interval is changes the effect of your workout substantially. Just like we periodize your effort intervals building fitness to your race – your recovery intervals have a lot of bearing on the purpose of your workout and how they prepare you for race day. The target speed you are running and the race distance you are training for also hold a lot of importance on what kind of recovery will get you the right kind of fitness.
With so much variety of ‘how to’ piece together a workout – recovery intervals are an ingredient in the science and magic recipe coming together in training.
Short Rest: Early in training cycles with slower training zones such as marathon pace or half marathon pace shorter effort intervals with short rest give you a sample of goal pace without burning you up.
Later in training cycles with effort intervals faster than 5k pace and short rest your body is training to maintain speed when fatigued. This requires a runner to be peaking fitness to perform effectively and can be referred to as the ‘race specificity’ phase of training.
Medium Rest: This could also be considered a component of the ‘strength training’ types of workouts for just about any distance. Paired with longer intervals specific to the race you are training for they allow you to practice longer bouts at goal pace.
For 5ks: 8 x 1k (or 5min) slightly faster than 10k pace, with 60-90 seconds recovery. For Half Marathon: 3 x 2 miles (or 10 minutes) at goal half marathon pace, with 2 min recovery. For Marathon: 10-12 x 1k with 1min recovery
Long Rest: And we arrive at the point where 5k vs. the Marathon swing the pendulum. For 5k we typically see longer recovery in the beginning of a cycle for general fitness or as we transition to race-specific fitness. For a Half Marathon we can do longer goal-pace intervals with longer recovery to simulate race conditions. During Marathon training long rest can help an athlete get a power and speed development workout in which allows for quicker recovery.