How many times have you finished a hard race and just lay down or bent over in order to make it easier for your heart rate to slow down? For those of you who have done this, you may find it quite unnerving to know that your body needs you to think for it and help it get to the levels you need during intervals and repeats. It actually makes things harder for your heart if you stop moving. In fact, the pumping action of your legs is what helps your heart move the blood back to the heart. Stopping this movement causes your heart to lose the help that it needs.
If you've heard of active recovery then you already know that this can help your body to deal with hard intervals. By keeping your body moving, you help it. A Spanish study was done in which healthy students did one of several things between workout intervals. One set pedaled lightly, one stretched lightly, and one group laid down. They all did this for five minutes. The peddler won this race. Active recovery by the pedaling group enabled them to keep their hearts pumping thereby, allowing a faster recovery and increased output. In the end, the active recovery participants were able to work in 13% more intervals than those who only stretched or just laid down.
Active recovery interval workouts also help because they allow you to get more oxygen which, in turn, helps you reach higher levels of aerobic intensity resulting in a better workout.
By simply jogging slowly between your hard intervals, you can replicate this. Don't push too hard because more is not better here. Your heart rate needs to get down 60-65% of your maximum heart rate in order to get maximum benefit from active recovery.
Interval training combined with active recovery will do wonders for your running economy, endurance, and speed. Try it for yourself and reap the benefits!
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