“The Idea of a Recovery Run”

Anyone who discovers running and dares to embrace it has the potential and possibilities of learning some incredible life lessons at some point will become familiar with the idea of the recovery run.  For non-runners, the concept of running more miles in order to recover from other, more intense running activities likely sounds counter intuitive, but for the more serious runner, the recovery run is perhaps the most important run of a training program week and even more, it can be the more enjoyable and most social run of all.  For me, the long runs I experienced with the friends of my running group stand as some of the most memorable times of my running career.  Sometimes we double-dipped and used our long Saturday runs as tempo 20’s (if you an imagine that).  Looking back, one of those tempo 20’s is one of the things I am most proud of.  Even though it was just me, my buddies and our watches, it was an insane accomplishment (1:56 for 20m), but what it memorable was that we did it together on our own.

The Recovery Run is a part of a training program for any sort of distance running race from 800m to ultra-marathon.  It is an important element in any training program that flushes the system of lactic acid, improves efficiency of the circulartory system and builds strength and durability in many ways without getting all biological on you.  The recovery run is done at a slow pace where the runner is able to talk freely, enjoy the scenery and appreciate running. Even so, it is a LONG run and by its nature still takes discipline and endurance.

I’ve always felt more things applied to running than not, at least symbolically.  In many ways, my involvement in running has helped me to preserver in different aspects of my life such as enduring suffering, understanding the work needed to achieve a goal, appreciate delayed gratification and the need to see the big picture and not to focus only on the immediately accessible.  Running certainly applies to faith.  The apostle Paul knew and understood that.  He was no stranger to running or at least in being aware of running as a sport.

  • “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  (Cor 1.9 24-27)
  • “I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.” (Gal 2:2)
  •  “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7 )
  •  “And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Phil 2:16)
  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

I am forever applying the lessons and symbolic virtues of running to my life and I couldn’t help escape it on the eve of my sabbatical several years back.  As with any runner in the midst of training I am in need of a long recovery run.  I need to recover from the hard intervals, challenging, exhausting competition and other efforts.  I need to flush the system of all the lactic acid, impurities and hopefully expand and make the system more efficient.

Like any worthwhile long run, it isn’t always easy, I mean a long run of 20 miles, while good and effective for a runner, still takes ambition to do it and even though it may be done at an easy pace there does come a time when blood sugars drop and carbohydrates can get depleted.  Even so, the determined runner must continue and I know that the symbolic long run of my sabbatical would be no different.  It was easy and fun at first, but difficult at different points along the way.  It was a long run that was absolutely necessary and needed for me to improve as a Christian, person and yes, a runner.  It was, as author Matt McCue described “An Honorable Run.” (Thanks Matt!)

I invite you to follow along with my thoughts and musings that have come to me  our are coming to me during my personal recovery run (which I feel is still being run), and perhaps you might attempt your own recovery run in your own way.  Perhaps my run will be similar to yours or at the very least give you a way to fall asleep at night by reading something so boring and or self absorbed.

I’ll see you along the way of our “Recovery Run”

Jim Kirby


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