Are you constantly wondering why you always feel like garbage after a run? Are you forced to take multiple days off from running because you’re too fatigued?
In this blog post, you’ll be finding your easy run pace.
The first question I always ask a runner who approaches the question of “what pace should I be running” is this: if you were to go out for a run (not looking at your watch) and simply just run… What is your pace? Not your pace when you’re sprinting home, but your general easy effort pace.
How do I do this?
If I were you, this is what I would do: I would go for a 3-5 mile run. I’d make sure it was a relatively flat course and I would simply just run. I would pay certain attention that my breathing was controlled and I was within myself. If you had to think of an effort level, it would be a 4 or 5 out of 10. It’s not hard, but it’s not walking. It’s just easy, casual running.
After the run, assess whether or not the pace was in fact easy. Could you run 10 more minutes at that pace? What about 2 more miles? If the answer is no to those questions, then you most likely ran too fast. You may have to try this a handful of times to get an average of your easy run pace.
In the video below, by Jack Daniels, the guru of distance running, he says that easy run pace has a range – and that range can be as big as a minute. This means that if your easy run pace is 9 minutes per mile, there might be a day when you’re feeling great and you can comfortably run 8:30 per mile. Similarly, if you’re not feeling great – maybe you’re tired from some hard runs, then your easy pace can still be productive at 9:30 per mile.
As an aside, easy runs should make up almost 80-90 percent of all your running. So figuring out and dialing into your easy run pace is certainly worth the effort it will take to find it.
Once you have your current, ideal easy run pace, you can now work on building endurance by running more at that easy run pace.
Will my pace always be “x”?
No. As you get fitter, your body, muscles, and lungs will adapt and get stronger. When you adapt, the same easy run pace that might have been 9 minutes per mile, now is naturally 8:45 or 8:50 per mile. You’ll still be working at that same effort level, you’ll just be able to do that same pace using less energy or a bit faster of a pace using the same 4 or 5 out of 10 effort level.
Regardless, you’ll be able to run faster using less energy. This is how you get fit and in shape after taking time off.
Why so much easy pace?
It’s the foundation for building stronger legs, a more efficient cardiovascular system and on a cellular level, it promotes change and growth.
If you add speed work before your body is ready for it, you can lead to tendon strains, muscle soreness, or over-fatigue. Many days in a row of faster-than-easy pace and you can find yourself run down or injured.
Find your “easy run pace” and it will guide all the training you do! Read about it at #TrainwithMarc’s newest blog postTweet
What type of runs are “easy”?
Warm up runs prior to workouts
Cool downs after workouts
Basic runs, also called easy runs
Most, if not all, of long runs
How Can You Improve Easy Run Pace?
I have really good news for you! There are many things you can do to improve your easy run pace.
- Be consistent with your running. Each and every week should be pretty similar.
- Add strength training into your routine to build stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Practice finding your easy run pace via GPS and dialing into how it feels.
- Use off days or cross-training days when you feel overly fatigued from training.
- Use a heart rate monitor to guide your running effort.
Easy runs are the foundation for all future running you are going to do. Finding your easy run pace is important to do because the majority of the running you do should be at this pace.
Remember, there is a window of +/- 30 seconds on either end of your easy pace to allow for internal and external factors, like feeling really good, a great weather day, or maybe some extra hills on your loop.
Marc is a middle school Special Education teacher and the distance track and cross country coach who also works with distance runners seeking personal bests. He blogs at TrainwithMarc.com and writes a Friday newsletter. You can find everything Marc is working on here.