Today, I really wanted to talk about “easy runs.” It took me a very long time to really understand the meaning and importance behind them. Originally, I just thought an “easy” run (I use this term sparingly) was supposed to be a shorter distance, which was in fact “easier” than my longer distance runs (i.e. a 5km run as opposed to 11 miles). I never took into account the fact that a lot of the time, especially in training mode, 5kms can actually be really hard – during speed work for example! I also never took into account that maybe my 11 mile long run on the weekend should really be done at a much slower pace than some of my other weekday runs. In conclusion, I usually labeled the “easy” runs the short distances and the “hard” runs the long distances. I never recognized pace and effort as the most important players in these terms.
My 5km distance became synonymous with the word “easy.” Hey, I can run a half marathon, so 5km is a walk in the park. Sometimes, when my training plan said “30 minutes of easy running,” I automatically changed the words in my head to mean “5km in 30 minutes or less” and sometimes even pushing myself to 6km in 30 minutes. But it was still “easy” because it wasn’t 10km, right?
Then I did some research and man, was I wrong.
According to this article from Runner’s World, Greg McMillan (an exercise physiologist and running coach from Arizona) states that, “Not running slow enough on easy days is probably the number-one error runners make.”
-Okay, so I’m not alone here.
“Consciously or not, many runners push too hard on easy runs and miss out on their varied benefits—like time to heal, for one.”
-Yep, definitely me. I somehow developed the mindset that if I didn’t always try my hardest, I was letting myself down. If I didn’t always run at maximum effort for whatever distance I was running, I would become accustomed to that speed and become slower. My avoidance of slow, “easy” runs was also, most likely, the leading cause of my bout of IT Band Syndrome this summer, because I didn’t allow my muscles to heal properly by constantly pushing myself.
The solution? The article says to:
1. Do more slow running
“Seventy percent of your weekly mileage should be easy miles.”
“[It] gets blood flowing to muscles, which flushes away broken-down proteins, delivers new proteins to rebuild damaged tissue, and carries carbohydrates to replenish depleted stores in muscle cells.”
2. Watch your pace… on your watch – especially if you are bad at going slow (moi).
And a tip from me (a runner and blogger, clearly not an expert) – remember the benefits of easy runs. Don’t believe me? Literally google “the benefits of easy runs” and you will be surprised. I have recently used a pace calculator to calculate my optimal “easy” pace (because I am obsessed with numbers) and stick to it religiously on my “easy” days. I have also learned to EMBRACE the easy run – to enjoy my surroundings and to not feel completely dead after a run.
In other news, T got his first hole-in-one yesterday (he’s a golf nut and is seriously going places aka the PGA). I am probably going to be in so much trouble for posting this:)
I had my first experience at Nestle Toll House yesterday with one of my oldest friends. You gotta love how they hand you a free cookie upon entering. I loved it so much that I just needed to get two more. English Toffee and Iced Sugar, yes please.
I also swear I ate a kale salad yesterday – but who wants to see a picture of that?
Tomorrow is the Colour Vibe 5km! I will be running with my mom, Hope and Jake and I am super excited to spend time with them and to run a “fun” race – it has been a while! Recap and pictures to come this weekend:)
Again – Happy Friday!!!
How do easy runs make you feel?
Were you ever confused by the “easy” vs. “hard” labels?
Favourite kind of cookie?