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Why easy running is important to run fast
Why easy running is important to run fast

Want to understand the value of why we set you easy running? Read on here.

Steph avatar
Written by Steph
Updated over a week ago

Easy running, also known as 'recovery runs', 'slow running' or 'chatty miles', is an important part of a runner's training plan. Easy runs make up most of your plan and are one of the most valuable parts of your training plan. Despite this, they are often the runs we struggle with the most as they can feel a bit counter intuitive!

Running is hard on the body, essentially jumping up and down over and over again, as fast as we can! Running fast has its benefits but it is a lot more stressful on the body. Running at faster speeds generates more force through our muscles, tendons and bones, and as a result, takes longer to recover from as well as increasing our risk of injury. This is where our easy runs comes in!

What is a comfortable pace?

A 'comfortable' pace is exactly as the name suggests, comfortable. Simple, right? Not so much... When we refer to a comfortable pace of running, this is a pace that we can sustain for a prolonged period of time, but how do we calculate that? A very useful rough guide to what a comfortable pace might be for you is to add 25-35% to your fastest 1km time.For example, if you're best 1km time is 5 min/km * 1.30 = 6.30 min/km pace

This calculation is not foolproof but will act as a very useful benchmark for finding the right pace for your easy runs.

What is a conversational pace?

In order to understand what a conversational pace might feel like, I want to listen to your breathing on your next run. A conversational pace, as it suggests should be slow enough that you speak in full sentences and hold a conversation with someone. However, on those runs where we're out there, pounding the pavement on our own, it may be hard to determine what that might feel like. This is why we're going to listen to our breath. If you can feel and hear yourself breathing heavily, the chances are you may be going a little fast. If someone stopped you, asking for directions, would you be able to speak to them or would you need a minute to catch your breath? This will act as a great benchmark for whether you've nailed the 'conversational' pace.

What are the benefits of easy running?

  • A good way to socialise and relax (chat with a friend, run whilst taking a phone call, enjoy a podcast or listen to music)

  • Allows the body to recover and adapt to the stresses of harder workouts and races

  • Helps improve overall endurance and performance.

  • Opportunity to practice your form

  • By incorporating slower runs, it means we can increase our endurance more by running more each week which is going to help training for any endurance goals.

  • By doing some of our sessions easy it allows us to freshen up to then push those quality long or speed sessions harder with more motivation

How do I run easy?

You would think this is obvious, however a lot of us struggle with this. Here is some advice:

  • The main metric to use for easy running is RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Your effort level should be low - no more than a 5/10 (0 being rest and 10 being max effort!)

  • We will provide a target for your easy run pace, but this should come secondary to your RPE. Your easy run pace will not be the same day to day and will fluctuate depending on how you are feeling (lack of sleep, busy day at work, hilly terrain and weather will cause this to vary!)

  • Our top tip for pacing an easy run - can you hold a conversation at the pace you're going?

  • When running easy, we should still look to keep a strong cadence, aiming for 175-185 spm. More frequent easy steps are going take less stress on the body than fewer hard and powerful steps. Read our article Everything you need to know about cadence to find out more.

In summary, don't feel like you should always be pushing yourself and running fast. It might take some getting used to but remind yourself of the importance of easy running. Run slow to run fast - as the saying goes! If in doubt, slow it down!

Runners stretching
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