Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology & Public Health Education

First Advisor

John Fitzgerald


Background: Runners can perform training runs designed to elicit desired adaptations for future competition. When performed at a high-intensity, these running bouts will lead to fatigue that needs to be diminished to sustain the desired workload for the training session. Performing an active recovery or remaining passive are two methods that runners could use.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of active vs passive recovery on a subsequent running bout of 400 meters in recreational adult runners. It was hypothesized that the active recovery condition would maintain performance better than passive recovery.

Methods: A crossover design experiment was used. 20 recreational adult runners (10 males, age: 22.50 ± 2.72; 10 women, age: 22.20 ± 1.75) participated in three sessions. The first session was familiarization and the next two sessions were experimental. The experimental sessions were separated by at least 72 hours. A recovery condition of active or passive was randomly assigned for the first session and the opposite would be done for the second. Participants performed two max-effort runs over a distance of 400m separated by 15 minutes of recovery. Blood-lactate levels were measured at 5 and 12 minutes of the recovery period. The absolute difference for performance time and blood-lactate was calculated for each participant in each condition. A change score was calculated as the percentage change between run 1 and run 2 and between blood-lactate in both recovery conditions for each participant. A dependent sample t-test was used to analyze the data to detect any statistically significant differences.

Results: There was a statistically significant difference between mean pre- and post- recovery times (in seconds) in the active (pre: M = 76.31, SD = 13.42; post: M = 79.57, SD = 14.62, p = .01) and passive conditions (pre: M = 76.23, SD = 14.20; post: M = 78.74, SD = 13.23, p = .001). There was no statistical difference in the absolute time difference between conditions (M = -.75, SD = 6.61, p = .616). There was also no statistical difference when the change scores between active and passive were compared (M = .66, SD = 7.26, p = .688). The active recovery condition produced a statistically significant difference between blood-lactate measurements taken at 5 minutes (M = 12.65, SD = 2.72) and 12 minutes (M = 10.07, SD = 3.41, p = .012) of the recovery time. Mean blood-lactate measurements for the passive recovery condition were not statistically different between 5 minutes (M = 12.76, SD = 3.15) and 12 minutes (M = 12.04, SD = 4.00, p = .251). Absolute blood-lactate difference between conditions didn’t produce a statistically significant difference (M = 2.00, SD = 5.18, p = .130). Change score difference between the active and passive conditions approached but did not reach statistical significance (M = -10.75. SD = 23.01, p = .081).

Conclusion: Performing high-intensity 400m runs results in fatigue that could be alleviated with adequate recovery. Although active recovery trended towards lowering blood-lactate values at a faster rate, this did not lead to an improvement in the second 400m run. Passive recovery overall provided a smaller performance decrement than active although this was not statistically different. Runners and coaches should attempt to determine which recovery method may work better for themselves or their athletes by utilizing both in a training session.