Workout Variables: Recovery Jogs

Last week I wrote about big data and what it told us about training for the mid-packer. I also chimed in about how I felt the HMM style of marathon training fit in. The reality is the vast majority of people under train for the marathon. When I say under train, I am referring to training volume. If you are a mid packer running 30-40 miles per week, then my guess is that it involves a lot of weekend running and then a few runs scattered across the other 5 days of the week. If you are a mid packer looking to elevate your game, then I would encourage you to read my book Hansons Marathon Method. This will bump your mileage and give you a new threshold in training for marathon breakthroughs. This post may be beneficial too.

Following a more structured plan will do a lot for the regular runner, especially if in the 3:45 plus range in the marathon. However, that’s not what this post is about. Rather, let’s say that you’ve been training hard for a few marathons, maybe even used HMM a couple times. You’ve seen success, but now you are starting to level off. Adding even more weekly volume isn’t  really an option, so we have to find a way to get more out of our existing workouts and weekly volume.

Luckily, there are ways to do this and today we’ll talk about one of them. That’s the recovery times of your repeat workouts. Originally, I was going to talk about speed and strength workouts, but realized that this was a lot of information, so we’ll stick with the speed workouts today.

In the classic plans, speed workouts are done over the first weeks of the training plan performed at 5k to 10k pace. Now, I fully recognize that for the true speedsters out there that this may not qualify for true speed work in your world, but it is speedwork relative to the goal race distance. It’s more than plenty. When I prescribe, I tend to prescribe at 10k pace, but I know many of you will go with the faster end of the spectrum if given the option. What happens though, is that this ends up being a wide range of paces and so standard recovery given may not fit all needs.

Let’s look at 5k pace first.

This effort will be at an intensity near your VO2max for the faster runners, while closer to critical velocity (CV), for others. VO2max is the pace you can hold for up to 8 minutes while CV is the pace you can hold for about 30 minutes. Big difference, right? Two important thresholds, but two very different thresholds. To further complicate things, at 10k pace, depending on the runner, you might be working your CV or you may be closer to the lactate threshold (LT), the pace you can hold for an hour. This complicates the ideal recovery times.

You may be asking, what does the book say? For speed, you have 3 miles worth of fast work ranging from 12×400 meters to 3×1 mile and the recovery is 400 to 800 meters, depending on the length of the repeats. When you set the recovery to distance, you take out a major factor- the time that distance is covered. While it might be the right amount of time for some, you also have it being too much/little for others. However, when you are creating a plan that is meant to help a wide spectrum of people, things won’t be perfect for everyone. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be perfect and that is where this post comes in- showing you how to individualize.

There are general rules for recovery, depending on repeat length and pace. For instance, if you are working more of the VO2max end of the spectrum then the ratio is 1:1, 1:1.5, and 1:2. Simply, this is the rest to work ratio. If you are running repeats that take about two minutes, then recovery can be anywhere from an equal two minutes down to one minute. Personally, if you are pretty fit, I’d say that shorter repeats (400-800 in distance) that your recovery can be in the 1.5-2 range. The longer the repeat, the more recover and close to a 1:1 ratio.

The reasoning, you ask?

Well, it takes 90-120 seconds to reach VO2max per repeat. So, if you are doing 800’s with a long rest, then you are spending more time reaching VO2max- maybe close to the full repeat just to get to the stimulus you want. The basics of it all is that you want to run hard, but the recovery has to be balanced between short enough to maximize time spent at desired level, but not so short that you can’t sustain the pace.

Now, if you are on the LT side of things, then we approach the recovery differently. Since the intensity is less, recovery can be less. Think of it this way- we are moving away from an intensity that can only be sustained for 15-30 minutes to a pace that can be sustained for about an hour. Imagine going out at 5k pace for a half marathon! Phew. In any case, the recovery I always see is 90-120 seconds per LT repeat. However, in our case, shorter repeats like 400’s or 600’s don’t need even that and can be 45-60 seconds per repeat. I’d say anything under 3 minutes can be utilized. If referring to ratios, I’d say a 1:3 or a 1:4 ratio for LT repeats. The reasoning- well, again it comes down to accumulating time at the desired intensity.

If you were running, say 1k repeats at 4 minutes a pop, with a 4 minute recovery, then you would be essentially starting from scratch every repeat and severely limit the amount of time you spent at the desired intensity.

If we did 5x1k at that pace that’s 20 minutes of hard running, but how much was really spent at or near LT? 10, 12, 14 minutes? Now, if you shorten the recovery, you spend less time getting back to LT but recover enough to continue the paces then maybe out of that 20 minutes of hard running, we bump that up to 18+minutes at our desired intensity. A lot more bang for your buck! Not only do you increase the efficiency of the workout, you actually decrease the time needed for the workout. If you are an early am runner, how does having an extra 10 minutes sound? Maybe you’d even stretch! Yeah right, who’s kidding who? (JK!)

Ok coach, that all sounds great, but how do you know when you are in the right time frame?

The easiest way to determine is if you can still maintain the pacing. This may be true for both the fast repeat and the jog interval. If your jog repeats fall off a little during VO2max efforts, that’s one thing- I mean I am asking you to run pretty hard! However, for if you are more on the LT side of things, then the repeat intensity is low enough and the distance short enough that your recovery jogs shouldn’t fall off a cliff by the last few.

To reiterate, these suggestions on adjusting recovery times aren’t a must have for everyone. If you are new to the HMM style, then I’ll warn you- it’s not a cake walk plan.

There’s no need to make it tougher and you’ll see so much improvement as written.

However, if you are an old pro at the method and want to shake things up a bit, then this is a simple way to do it without adding more volume or more workouts. This is a great way to break through a plateau.


if you have the plan, or any plan of mine in Final Surge and are using the structured workouts, then you can easily adjust the recovery times on your workout. You can simply log in, go to the Beta platform and select your day. Then click the workout builder and edit the recovery. You can change the distance to match what fits your needs or ger exact and switch the recovery to time based. Eazy Peazy!

Next time we’ll have to talk about strength workouts and recovery times. Make sure you check out our plans at Final Surge! If you like our content and wanna help support, please consider becoming a Patreon. There are some perks for becoming a Patreon. If anything, please share this far and wide to help spread the word.

Product Spotlight: Isalean Shake

Runners are now recognizing that protein plays a big role in endurance performance. However, what we are seeing is that a lot of our athletes, they simply aren’t getting enough. To make matters worse, the protein that they are getting in, is of fairly poor quality. It was in my own diet that I recognized this, and decided to utilize the Isalean shake in my own diet.

So how much protein do we need? For the longest time, protein requirements were no more than that of the average person, at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 150 pound person, you’re looking at about 55 grams of protein. However, new recommendations are 1.2-1.6 g/kg of body weight and I have seen all the “whey” up to 2.0 grams. For that same 150 pound person, you are looking at a new amount of 82-110 grams. Potentially, they may need as much as 136 grams! Now, a lot of this depends on the size of the person, how hard they are training, and where they are at in their training cycle. But, you get the point, it’s significantly more protein than what was previously thought.

Why we need more as endurance athletes

While we aren’t bodybuilders trying to bulk up, our body is constantly turning over tissue. These are exponential with the amount we are training. We aren’t talking just muscle, but amino acids (protein broken down) is vital to things like connective tissue and blood components!

While carbohydrate and fat provide so much of the energy needed to run, protein does provide some fuel source. Protein can provide up to 5% of energy demands. This number is not a game changer, but also note that if you are on a low carb diet, then the amount of protein providing fuel for exercise increases by even greater numbers.

Why I chose Isagenix Isalean

The Isalean shake is so much more than a simple protein powder. It’s 24 grams of undenatured whey protein. If you are not sure what that means, it’s simply not boiled to death so all the good stuff is cooked out. The dairy that Isagenix uses comes from grass fed cows with no antibiotics or hormones. On top of that the shake includes 23 essential vitamins and trace minerals.

These shakes are loaded with all the things I need- including essential fatty acids and high quality complex carbohydrates. For me, it made getting all the quality nutrients I need for my health and performance so much easier.

Product Spotlight: Isalean Shake

Product Spotlight: Isalean Shake

Why shouldn’t I just drink chocolate milk?

It is true that chocolate milk is a nice treat after a tough workout, but is it as the “perfect” recovery drink as often advertised? Let’s take a quick look at the make up:

For overall calories, there’s not a ton of difference roughly 200 for an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk vs 240 calories for the same amount of Isalean shake. However, looking at where those calories are coming from, the differences become a lot clearer. In a glass of reduced fat chocolate milk, there is roughly 8 grams of fat, whereas there are 6 grams in a shake. Breaking that down even more, an Isalean shake has only 2 grams of unhealthy saturated fat and 6 grams of healthy fats (coming from olive oil and flax seed). Chocolate milk will include about 5 grams out of 8 total grams as saturated fats.

Moving to carbohydrate, chocolate milk will give you 30-36 grams of simple sugars. An Isalean shake will give you 24 grams of carbohydrate, with 8 grams of that total being in the form of fiber and only 11 grams of sugar.

Chocolate milk is often touted as a great source of protein, but in 8 ounces of milk, you get 8 grams of protein. Compare that to the 24 grams of high quality undenatured, complete protein in an Isalean shake it’s not even close. To get the the same amount of protein from chocolate milk, you now need to drink three glasses- which now puts your sugar content at about 100 grams.

Lastly, when we look at vitamins and minerals, chocolate milk contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin d and small amounts of a handful of other vitamins. An Isalean shake contains 40%, or more, of daily values for over 20 different vitamins and trace minerals.

Chocolate milk is great when you are in a pinch, but given a choice, you can see that there are more complete options out there.

Best practices

What are the best practices with using the Isalean shake (or any protein supplement)?

  • Use as a meal replacement. When Isagenix first formulated this shake, I hardly think they were keeping an endurance athlete in heavy training as a baseline! The shakes certainly were meant as a meal replacement for those trying to lose fat weight. Can they serve that purpose for the athlete in heavy training? The best answer is partly. I will use the shake in conjunction with other food (mainly fruit) to complete my breakfast. However, if you are a person who runs after work and needs something of quality a couple hours before your run/workout, then this is the perfect option.
  • Can it be taken as a pre workout meal? Yes, if you are in a window of say 90-120 minutes before a run, then go for it!
  • Post workout is probably the most popular use for my athletes. If you workout in the morning, then getting one of these bad boys in right after is crucial. Add some fruit for more high quality carbohydrate and you have an excellent start to the day. Your recovery is off and running, and your body is getting not only the carbs and protein it needs to refuel and rebuild, but also the vitamins and minerals that are crucial to performance and health.

NEW!!! Isagenix Whole Blend Shakes in Whey and Plant Based options! 

Want to try a FREE sample? I’d love to send you one. Fill out this form and I’ll have a sample of the Birthday Cake Isalean or of the new Whole Blend flavor sent directly to you. (I won’t sell/share your info)

Stress / Recovery Principles


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Ibuprofen and acute recovery

How many times have we put ourselves, or even worse- has our coach, through a tough workout that left our poor muscles just shredded? If you’re like I used to be, then you may have been reaching for a couple of the over-the-counter anti inflammatory capsules. Was that the best thing for us?

Researchers from Norway, New Zealand, and Australia teamed up to look at blood markers of inflammation and muscle damage post exercise. They also looked at the effects of white blood cell infiltration after taking traditional oral ibuprofen. In the following 24 hours after exercise there was no effect on any of these measures, including the subjects own perception of soreness.

The take-away: We’ve talked before about the body needing to be put under stress in order to adapt to that stress. It appears that ibuprofen may not do much in terms of the acute damage, but you also want to avoid just taking even over the counter pills. Save the medications for when you really need them.

What you can do instead: While taking a couple pills is easy, there’s still some pretty simple things you can do to encourage proper recovery without wasting an opportunity to promote precious fitness adaptations.

  • Refuel: Have snacks prepared for post workouts. Carbohydrate will replenish depleted stores and protein will halt current muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth and repair over the long term.
  • Rehydrate: Begin rehydrating almost immediately and continue drinking regularly throughout the day. This can be water with electrolytes, or even small amounts of sports drinks for right after your workout. I don’t recommend sports drinks all day, but right after a workout is a perfect time.
  • Rest: This one is tough for most people. If you can’t sneak a nap in, wear compression garments for a few hours post workout. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, though.

Article Abstract

Antioxidents: Blunt our training adaptations?

Below is an infogram from @YLMSportScience. We’ve talked about this before with ice baths for recovery. Part of the training adaptations are triggered by the damage that we do to the muscles and the stress we place on our cardiovascular system. If we limit that, then is it possible we limit the triggers for adaptation? It’s looking like we at least blunt these responses. So, be careful with the mega doses of things like vitamin C. You might feel better the next day, but you might end up having to work even harder in the long term…





Do you load up antioxidants?

Keeping up with research is tough, but luckily the twitterverse makes it a little easier if you follow the right people. This little tidbit came across this morning and I had a chance to read through: Vitamin C and E supplementation

Recently, there has been increasingly more evidence that taking mega doses of antioxidants like vitamins C and E can actually hinder your hard earned aerobic adaptations. In fact I think I’ve seen a few people posting things about what’s true and what’s not. Anyway, here’s a easy breakdown of what this article found:

  • supplementation blunted certain protein up regulations that typically occur with training BUT training induced improvements  in VO2max and running performance were not altered.
  • However, these proteins being depressed could contribute to blunted mitochondrial growth. This, we know, would not be good! Keep in mind that this study was done over 11 weeks, which simply may not be enough time to show what happens long term. We know it takes years to develop our aerobic systems and a several week study just can’t represent long term effects. Imagine taking a huge dose of vitamin C several days a week over several years? It’s a very possible scenario.
  • Also, gened expression of certain signalling proteins were depressed, BUT capillarisation and stress proteins were not altered. I would consider what we just discussed in this case too.

Another study didn’t show any alterations, but the primary difference was the amount of vitamin C given. In the study that showed no “depression” in activity involved daily doses of 500 mg/day, whereas the current study used 1000 mg/day. Also, the previous study didn’t look at the same markers. The markers observed in the current study are directly related to the state of mitochondrial growth.

The bottom line is to be careful. People take these antioxidants to recover faster, but if you potentially blunt the growth of mitochondria, then it doesn’t particularly matter is you are recovered! Honestly, it simply shows that more is not always better- just like a lot of running related topics.

My 2 cents- Luke