A blog by runners. For runners.

The Easy Run

What is an Easy Run?
Easy Runs. Long Runs. Fartleks. Intervals. Etc. When it comes to run types, the list seems endless. And, to make things more complicated, different training plans have different definitions for each. This week, we’re tackling popular types of runs, one-by-one, and deciphering the pace for each. First up: The Easy Run.

Definition of easy runs
Easy runs, including recovery or base runs, are the cornerstone of solid training. They’re exactly what they sound like – easy runs are done at a slow pace and truly feel easy. You should finish each easy run feeling like you could have run faster and further. Most running coaches say that between 70 to 90 percent of all runners’ runs – from novices to seasoned runners — should be done at an easy pace.

When to do easy runs
Easy runs are those shorter, mid-week runs that don’t come with any time goals. Our bodies take 1- 3 days to fully recover after intense runs – like intervals, tempo, or long runs. By running slowly in the day(s) following a hard workout, we recover more quickly. Blood flows to the muscles, tissue is repaired, and your body gets stronger.

Pace goals of easy runs
Here’s where things get tricky – there’s no set pace of what an easy run should be. Different coaches have different pace guidelines for easy runs, such as:

TRAINING METHOD RECOMMENDED PACE
Hal Higdon Higdon says these runs should be “done at a comfortable pace” where you could hold a conversation with a friend. If you can’t carry on a conversation, you’re running too fast. If you wear a heart rate monitor, aim for 65- 75 percent of your maximum rate.
Jeff Galloway Galloway advises that all runs should be done at a “conversational” pace. Take walk breaks whenever needed.
FIRST There are no easy runs. The FIRST training plan requires speed, tempo, and long runs.
Hanson method In general, easy runs for the Hanson method should be 1-2 minutes per mile slower than your goal half or full marathon pace.
Pete Pfitzinger Pfitzinger recommends that recovery runs should be done at a “relaxed” pace and be “noticeably slower than your other workouts of the week.”
Jack Daniels In Daniels’ plans, your easy pace varies depending on what distance you’re training for. However, most easy runs should be about 1- 2 minutes slower per mile than your goal race pace. See Daniels’ training calculator for more details.
Greg McMillan McMillan says the perception of the run should feel easy. For 5k training, aim for an easy pace that’s 2 full minutes per mile slower than race pace. For marathon training, your easy run pace will be 1-2 minutes/ mile slower than goal race pace.

 

Easy runs in a nutshell
If all of this seems too overwhelming, take a step back and don’t over think it. An easy run should be done at any pace that feels much slower than all of your other runs that week. The actual pace doesn’t matter as much as it does for other runs, like tempo or long runs, as long as it feels easy. In fact, this is the ideal time to leave your watch at home and simply run by feel.

But be careful not to overdo it. Most coaches warn that running too hard on easy days is one of the biggest mistakes runners make. This can prevent your body from fully recovering between tough workouts and up your risk for injury.

If you must know your pace on easy runs, this calculator can show you what pace to shoot for.

RELATED: Check out our full series on the different types of runs

DOWNLOAD the new WalkJogRun app with Pace Coach to make sure you stay on track during easy runs!

Written by Jen Matz.