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Are Treadmills Good for Recovery Runs?

Many athletes complain about muscle soreness or tightness after an intense workout or competition. Recovery running can be useful for runners who are finding themselves sore or fatigued the day after an intense exercise. But is the treadmill a good idea for recovery runs?

This largely depends on the runner and their preferences, but many athletes recommend utilizing a treadmill for recovery runs because you can easily set a constant pace for a proper recovery run. This is a benefit because it helps you control the pace perfectly and you won’t overdo your recovery run. While there are disadvantages to a treadmill, being able to control the pace is a big win.

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Why Is Maintaining a Constant Pace Important and How Are Treadmills Great for Runners Seeking Recovery?

Recovery running can be highly beneficial for runners seeking relief following an intense workout because the low intensity pace desired for a recovery run is perfect for achieving a constant, low heart rate that can strengthen your cardiovascular health and improve overall endurance. Furthermore, recovery runs allow athletes to flex and stretch out some of the prior day’s efforts.

Why Are Treadmills Great for Recovery Running?

Treadmills are excellent for achieving a proper recovery run largely due to the ease with which you can adjust and set your pace. For example, if you wanted to feel some relief from yesterday’s intense workout you can simply hop on a treadmill and set the speed setting to a comfortable pace. 

One of the leading sportswear brands, Garmin, explains that maintaining a comfortable (but not easy) pace while running can offer some of the best relief. Treadmills are a great resource because they allow one to maintain a constant pace that can be adjusted to fit the needs of the runner.

Most power-assisted treadmills offer users the ability to adjust their speed settings; with the majority of treadmills having a range of 0-12 miles per hour. Furthermore, many of today’s gyms have treadmills which possess training and media technology that makes recovery running as simple as pressing a button and stepping on the treadmill. 

Companies such as Star Trac produce top of the line treadmills that are easy to use and perfect for recovery running. Treadmills, like those made by Star Trac, allow runners to easily set and maintain a comfortable pace, while also providing users with media technology capable of streaming your favorite TV show or testing the many immersive, instructed exercises.

What Pace Should You Run at For a Recovery Run?

Your pace should be somewhere between 50-75% of your typical training pace. Furthermore, the pace that you should run for maximum recovery benefits is, more than anything, a pace that you can comfortably run at. This should be easy and allow you to workout some of the soreness and fatigue from the prior workout. 

The pace that you should run at for a recovery run can vary depending on the runner. Everybody possesses different abilities and figuring out where you fall is one of the more challenging aspects of improving your personal fitness. Thankfully, however, there is a rule of thumb that experts recommend when figuring out which pace you should be running for a recovery run. 

Experts stress that it is vital for runners to take their rest and recovery equally as serious as their everyday training and competitions. While modern medicine and medical technology has grown and continues to grow exponentially, our bodies can only take so much strain before it begins to break down (and not in the good way).

When figuring out and setting a pace for your next recovery run, make sure you are taking it easy; so that your body can get the rest and recovery benefits its aching for.

What Heart-rate Zone is Ideal for a Recovery Run?

First, let’s take a look at the science. Scientists explain that active recovery following a strenuous aerobic exercise can lead to a faster clearance of accumulated blood lactate than that of passive recovery. 

When you perform an exercise your heart is pumping blood; prioritizing blood flow to muscles that are experiencing the most tension. The more strain you put on your muscles, the more blood and blood lactate are pumped into them. So after a tough run or heated competition your muscles are engorged with this blood lactate that can cause those feelings of fatigue and soreness. 

So What Zone Should My Heart-Rate Be in For a Recovery Run?

Scientists recommend that in order to receive optimum recovery benefits, runners should seek an intensity level that brings them to a range of 80-100% of the lactate threshold. For many runners, this range of lactate threshold falls in line with the Z-2 or Zone 2. 

In this zone, Garmin explains, a runner’s perceived level of exertion should be comfortable and you should be able to have a conversation while running. This may seem like an odd way to measure your exertion levels, but try it! 

Next time you’re feeling sore or fatigued following an intense workout, hop on the treadmill and go for a recovery run. If you’re unable to maintain a conversation at any point in the run, lower your speed to a more comfortable setting. Remember, the purpose of this exercise is to workout some of the blood lactate that has accumulated in the muscle; releasing some of the tension and soreness built up from your prior workout.


Recovery runs are an excellent way to relieve some of the soreness and fatigue brought on from a high intensity workout. Treadmills are perfect for recovery running due to the ease with which you can set a constant pace. 

Being able to set a constant pace makes the treadmill so invaluable because maintaining a continuous, comfortable pace is key for reaching the lactate thresholds required for maximum recovery benefits. Experts recommend a pace range of 50-75% of your typical training pace when performing a recovery run. You should be able to breathe comfortably, and even be able to hold a conversation while exercising. 

Treadmills are great for recovery runs because their easy to adjust technology makes finding your recovery pace simple and easy. Saying this, staying in Z-2 or Zone 2 of the heart rate range is recommended for reaching levels of the lactate threshold that promote recovery benefits.

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About the author

Jasper loves to write about fitness, running, and anything else that gets him moving outdoors. He's an avid hiker, backpacker, and climber who loves to stay fit so he can make sure he's healthy enough to enjoy his favorite hobbies. He also spends time writing about his true passions in life.