August 26 2016
We all love a good running meme!
For years, I ran all of my training runs relatively hard. I believed that if I took it easy during a run, I would become more comfortable running slow. And then when it was time to race, I wouldn’t remember how to run fast. (Note: “Slow” and “fast” are all relative in this article.) I thought that if I ran at (or close to) my goal race pace on a regular basis, the pace would start to feel easier and eventually I would be able to run the entire race distance at that pace.
I look back on training logs and posts from two years ago and cringe. Despite being fitter, stronger and faster now, I was running my easy and recovery runs 30-45+ seconds faster back then. I remember feeling like I pushing hard virtually every single day during my training cycles. There were countless missed runs because I felt exhausted or wiped out to even consider a few miles. Even a few long runs where I quit early. These are clear signs of training outside my ability or even overtraining. Needless to say, those training cycles were not smashing successes.
I didn’t understand that the easy, slower days are incredibly important, especially as the distances you are training for and miles you are logging on a weekly basis increase. It’s necessary to let your body recovery from the hard workouts by either resting or doing an active recovery with easy-paced comfortable miles— miles that should be run at paces WAY slower than your goal pace. These miles should make up the majority of a training plan and help build your aerobic base. According to a recent study: “The training intensity distribution of the more successful runners in this study—80 percent low, 10 percent moderate, and 10 percent high—is believed to be optimal for most runners.” (Source)
It could be tough to ease up on the relaxed days and watch your pace slow down. Remember that just because you can run faster doesn’t mean that you should. Honor the purpose of the run. It takes a lot of confidence—in yourself, your ability and the training plan—that the slower pace will actually, in fact, make you stronger and fitter rather than slow you down.
If you are struggling with taking it slower on the easy days, here are a few ways that could help you ease up:
Since pulling back on my easy runs, I have found a few things to be true:
How do you ensure you are taking it easy on your easy days?