Running Advice

Written by

Ben Parker

Everything You Need To Know About Embracing Your Easy Runs

Welcome to the secret to running success... easy runs.

Two runners on an easy run in London

For most running newbies, the aim of running is simple: you lace up your shoes and hit the pavement with the intention of finishing with a new PR. Whether it’s a 5K or a half-marathon, improving means a quicker time, and to get a quicker time you need to be running faster, right? Wrong. Now we know this sounds completely counterintuitive, but easy miles actually form the backbone of most training schedules.

Don’t worry, pretty much every beginner-slash-casual runner thinks these leisurely jaunts aren't just about catching your breath at some point or another. But the truth is: easy runs actually hold the key to unlocking long-term running success and keeping burnout at bay. So, gather 'round as we explore the importance of easy runs, why they work, how they boost performance and, of course, the strategies that'll help you embrace the slow lane.

Spoiler alert: it’s all about reaping the rewards of a smoother, more sustainable running journey.

Understanding Easy Miles

Easy miles are basically all the other miles you run; the ones that aren't tempos or intervals or long runs. In fact, open up your weekly training log and you’ll see that easy runs make up a pretty large percentage of your mileage total, yet most people don’t bother to record the data of them, other than to make the briefest note (like ‘park loop’ simply to remind yourself of what you did that day. That begs the question: why do people bother with them? The answer: Because easy running – at even the very slowest of paces – is the secret to making fundamental adaptations.

The Secret of Easy Runs:

In a world where PRs and intense workouts steal the spotlight, it's easy to dismiss the significance of easy runs. But guess what? These relaxed outings are where the magic truly happens. Easy runs offer your body a chance to recover, build aerobic endurance, and strengthen the foundation upon which your hard efforts thrive. They enhance your cardiovascular system, encourage efficient oxygen utilization, and train your body to burn fat more efficiently. That’s what easy runs are all about. So, the next time you lace up for an easy run, know that you're not just cruising for no real reason; you're actually nurturing the engine that powers your running dreams.

This is because you’re mostly working your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which have a much higher density of mitochondria, high levels of aerobic enzymes and greater capillary density than their faster cousins (clue: fast-twitch fibers). By switching up your focus and embracing easy runs, you’re actually increasing your mitochondria, capillaries and blood flow to your muscles, meaning they’re so much more effective at utilizing oxygen.

Embracing the Art of Slow:

It’s time to talk pace. Sure, the siren song of speed might be urging you to put your foot down and crank it up a gear, but for those easy days, it's all about dialing it back a little. Some call it your "conversational pace" and others call it your “sexy pace”, but both refer to a pace at which you can comfortably run and chat without gasping for air. It might feel counterintuitive at first, but trust in the process. Going slow allows your muscles to recover, minimizes the risk of injury, and sets the stage for successful future workouts. Think of it as laying the bricks for your running palace: steady, intentional, and built to last.

Running Fast on Slow Pace Days

We’ve all been there. We’ve all failed to back off on easy days for some reason or another. Maybe you woke up ready to push yourself, maybe your playlist is giving you energy, or maybe someone overtook you and that just isn’t going to fly. Whatever it is, let it go and embrace the slower pace instead of being stuck in one pace for all your runs and distances. Enjoy these recovery runs for what they are, even if that means running at an 11-minute mile pace. 

Strategies to Stay in the Slow Lane:

Sticking to a slower pace during easy runs requires a bit of mental gymnastics. But fear not, because we've got your back with a few strategies to help keep you on track.

  1. Embrace the "10-20% Rule": if you can't restrain yourself from speeding up, promise to increase your pace by no more than 10-20% of your easy pace.
  2. Recruit a Running Buddy: someone who matches your easy pace. Why? Because not only will you enjoy the camaraderie, but you'll also naturally settle into the right rhythm.
  3. Employ the "Talk Test": if you can chat comfortably while running, you're nailing the pace.

Stick To Our ‘No Faster Than Pace’

Whether you’re trying to get from the couch to 5K or your training for one of these London Marathon alternatives, one of the most-loved features on our top-rated running app is our “No faster Than” pace, which is there to help you stick to your personalized easy runs. Any faster and it’s no longer considered an easy run, which is our way of encouraging you to just chill a bit, ease up on the throttle and run at a pace designed to maximize the benefits of your training plan. That’s how much value our world-class (and Olympian) coaches place on that all-important easy-pace. 

The Joy of Sustainable Progress:

As runners, we're often chasing that epic feeling of crossing the finish line, the crowds cheering, music blaring and your watch showing a new personal record. That’s the aim. It’s that feeling of achieving something greater with each step you make. But let's not forget that easy runs hold their own special kind of triumph. They're the foundation of your running pyramid, supporting your speedwork, long runs, and races. So embrace the joys of these little wins and lap up the sustainable progress that comes with it. Enjoy those moments when you feel stronger, more energized, and in tune with your body. So easy runs might not come with the blaring horns and confetti of a lightning finish, but they bring the gift of longevity, the chance to run for a lifetime, and the ultimate in progress.

Pace Yourself to Triumph

It’s time to raise your electrolyte drink to the sky and toast the underestimated champions of the running world: your easy runs. More than just a break from the grind, they're the very essence of running's essence. They’re your chance to recover, enhance the performance of your slow twitch muscle fibers, and invest in a running journey that's as enduring as it is exhilarating. 

But above all, easy runs are your chance to learn about yourself and pay attention to your body, because every runner’s easy day will be different based on different factors. Your experience, your running goals, the mileage you have in your legs, and all that sort of stuff. It’s your chance to experiment with different paces for your easy runs. After all, it could be the way you manage your easy runs that make the biggest difference to your training. 

Thanks for reading our blog on all things easy runs. For more running insights, inspirations, stories and techniques, follow us on Instagram to take your runs to the next level.

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