When I first started running I had one gear, fast (or I tried at least). Every run, I would try to run 3 miles as fast as I could. Fast forward to today… My training plan calls for 3 easy runs and two higher intensity runs a week. It has been difficult to adjust to easy runs but I am starting to understand the true benefits after reading a few articles about “the easy run.”
Easy runs should be at a pace where you can have a conversation with your running buddy (or yourself, if you are running alone). You should be able to say a full sentence without losing breath. This equates to about 1.5-2 minutes per mile slower than your typical race pace. Why do you need to have easy runs though?
Research has shown that it is important to build base mileage if you plan on doing any longer distance races (half marathon or longer). Base mileage is defined as amount of miles that you run in a week. The problem with running 4-6 days a week at full intensity is that you are not allowing your body to recover from your harder runs, where you are building your speed. If you do not allow adequate time to recover, your endurance will gradually decline. You could find yourself developing injuries and sometime you just watch your average speed drop. I have even experienced a week of feeling fatigued and sore because I didn’t give myself enough rest.
It can be agonizing to run at a slower pace if you are not used to it, but in my experience, it has made me focus more on my form and I feel that I am a stronger and more confident runner because of the easy runs. Who would have thought you would have to run easier to get faster. Let me know how you make your easy runs enjoyable.