Whatever stage of running you’re in, easy runs and rest are the key part of running and training success.
If we continue to build and build and build, we either get injured or burned out. Running easy allows both your body and mind to recover for the next hard effort.
It seems counter-intuitive: Run easy or rest and you will get faster? Believe it or not, every person’s body needs time to recover. It is physically impossible for every run to be faster than the previous and not get injured.
However, don’t be confused, every runner needs both rest days which don’t include running as well as recovery days, which include an easy run or even light cross training.
Fast workouts and races have their purpose; to be fast. Easy runs and recovery days have their purpose as well; to allow your body to recover.
About 80% of your weekly mileage should be easy
Every athlete needs time to recover from hard workouts. Hard workouts include speed workouts and even long runs.
Running easy promotes blood flow to muscles, which causes the muscles to recover. It allows you to make the intervals or race pace when it comes time for a hard workout.
So how fast should you run?
Easy runs should be done at a pace two to three minutes slower than your 5K race effort. For example, if your 5K PR is 8 minutes per mile, then your easy runs should be between 10-11 min pace.
Many runners choose to use the “conversation test.” If you can have a full conversation while running, then it is a good pace for you.
Like many runners, sometimes running easy can seem like the hardest challenge of the week. Some ideas to help you run easy include:
- Run without a watch. If you aren’t waiting for your watch to beep at every mile, you re far less likely to stare or worry about the pace.
- Run with friends or with a group. Use your easy runs to run with friends that you aren’t always able too.
- Listen to music or zone out. It’s the perfect time to just listen to music, catch up on podcasts or watch Netflix. Sometimes (especially in the heat/cold weather), I’ll run for an hour and catch up on a TV show I missed.
Don’t forget to include both easy runs and recovery runs into your weekly workouts. Skipping one or both will result in burning out or injury!