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Tips for keeping your easy runs easy

Tips for keeping your easy runs easy

The biggest training mistake I make is running my easy runs too fast. On the surface this may not seem to be a major error, but it is.

It takes our bodies a few days to recover from grueling training runs, such as 800m repeats and long runs. When we run easy in the days between intense runs, we recover more quickly. But if we run too hard, we hinder the recovery process. Over time, this can derail our training goals and even lead to an injury.

However, even though I know this, it’s challenging to run slow some days. When I feel strong, I naturally want to push the pace even when my plan calls for slower miles. So, I’ve been trying different methods to keep my pace in check, including:

  • Reevaluating my speedwork paces. One of the reasons runners may want to push it on easy days may be because their tempo, fartlek, or repeat paces are too conservative. If you’ve been hitting your speedwork targets fairly easily and you’re naturally running your easy runs too quickly, set faster pace goals for your speed workouts and see how you fair.
  • Running blind. Sometimes knowledge can be a bad thing. I glance at my watch or running app after every mile – even during easy runs. I have a habit of always wanting to negative split on a run. So, if it naturally happens after a few miles, I’ll keep picking up the pace to see if I can keep it up for the entire run. But I don’t play this game when I don’t know what my exact time is after each mile. The solution: run without technology so I don’t know my pace.
  • Running at a different time of day.As a morning runner, I loathe running in the afternoon. I always feel sluggish and unmotivated at that time of day. But this can be a blessing in disguise when it comes to keeping the pace slow.
  • Running with a buddy. The trick here is to enlist a friend who is either slower or wiser than you. You won’t be able to run fast when you run with a slower runner. When you run with a wiser runner, he or she will help you hold yourself back you when you fall off your goal pace.
  • Adding strides to the end of my run.If you’re really feeling the need for speed on an easy day, reel it in until you finish your planned workout. Then do a handful of 50 meter strides afterwards. A couple of short bursts of speed is better than going hard for an entire workout.
  • Focusing on the bigger picture. I remind myself that easy runs are necessary if I want to meet my marathon goal. I also repeat “slow now, fast later” – mantras have a powerful effect on running performance. Sometimes just reminding myself why I need to keep it slow is enough to hold me back.

Who has successfully reeled in their easy run pace? Share your tips with the rest of us!

Written by Jen Matz.