It’s a familiar story. A runner hits the road or trail for an easy-effort run, but “feels good” and pushes harder. Or a runner is angry or stressed and turns and easy run into a therapeutic stamina-effort – i.e. harder-effort – run. Whatever the reasons, many runners fail to run easy.
Easy-effort running is described many ways: 50-70% of maximum heart rate, conversation pace (ability to chat with others and not gasp every few seconds), rating of ~3 on a 10-point scale of perceived effort.
Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard over the years regarding easy run.
Easy runs aren’t glamorous. Easy runs aren’t physically demanding. Easy runs are boring.
Easy runs don’t satisfy my ego.
My job as a coach is to explain the ‘why-ology’ of training – what, when, and why – and clearly define the purpose of each workout for the day, weeks, and months leading up to race day.
So what are the benefits of easy runs?
Running easy also makes high quality, longer duration, faster-pace running possible. It’s all about achieving balance between easy, medium, and hard-effort training across all training activities. When programming is properly periodized, athletes look forward to easy runs, understanding the value low intensity training. The demands of repeated back-to-back hard-effort training only accelerates athletes toward injury and overtraining syndrome. No one has time for that.
So yes, you can fail an easy run workout when ego or distraction carries you out of the easy run parameters, however you define them.
Yes, I have fired athletes who repeatedly blew off easy runs, then would struggle during harder-effort workouts.
Be a smart, disciplined runner and enjoy those easy runs.