The easy run is often the most talked about run during training. Why? It’s simple – because it is that important.
We put a lot of focus on our tempo runs, speed workouts and long runs that we forget a very important run for any marathon/half-marathon training plan: the easy runs.
Monday morning I ended up having the day off, so instead of just running my easy run I opted to do my tempo. If you give me a day where I’m able to get more sleep, not run in the utter darkness of 4:00 AM, and actually fuel correctly then I’m going to take it.
We headed to the gym so that I could do the first week of 8 mile tempos on the treadmill to boost my confidence a bit. You gotta do what you gotta do!
I hit the workout but I was a sweaty beast afterwards.
In total with the warm up, tempo and cool down I did 12 miles for the day. That’s a high Monday for me!
Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:05 AM, and as I cursed my alarm I quickly reminded myself that it was an easy day.
What exactly does that mean for my pacing? Well, if you ask Hansons Marathon Method it should be somewhere been an 8:35-9:01.
This is what my pace ended up being. That’s right a 9:26. That was the slowest run I have had in probably 6+ months, and I am completely okay with it.
I knew I was coming off of a tough tempo run, 12 miles, and had the highest mileage week ahead of me so there was absolutely no reason to push it.
Here are a few tips for easy days:
Stop Looking At Your Watch
If you are a pace addict, leave your Garmin or GPS unit at home. I know, it sounds crazy but it will without a doubt help you slow down.
I’m a little obsessive about hitting my mileage, so I turn the watch face to show the clock, turn the vibration and sounds off and just run. This way I can’t look at the pace.
Run Off Feel
When you are running easy, even with your watch attached, make sure you are running off how you feel. If you can’t talk while you are running, then you are probably going too fast. If your heart feels like it is beating out of your chest, then you probably need to slow down.
A lot can play into how you feel on a particular day. What workout did you do the day before? What did you eat the day before? How well did you hydrate? How much stress do you have going on in your life? Are your hormones out of whack? Is it extra hot, humid or cold?
There are so many factors that can affect your running, so don’t be surprised if easy and the feel of it is different from one day to the next.
It’s OK to Stop
During my easy runs, if I feel that I am not running as easy as I should sometimes I will stop to regroup. I will let my heart rate come down, breathe a few deep breaths, and then get going again.
This helps me to re-focus and get my heart rate back down when I’ve been going too quick.
Don’t Wear Your Music
I don’t always follow this rule, but it is the easiest way to listen to your breathing. If you have music in the not only will it often cause us to go faster but it also can cause you to not be able to truly hear how you are breathing.
Leave the iPod at home and run and enjoy the things around you. The only time I break this rule is sometimes on my Sunday run, because I only use music 2 out of 6 days since I run so early most days.
Don’t Go Out with a Goal
Don’t go out on easy days with a pace goal. You can have a goal for mileage, but setting a pace goal is just going to cause you to look at your watch and stress when you aren’t hitting it.
Just go out and say that you will do whatever your body gives you that day.
Focus on Form
A great thing to do on your easy days is to focus on form. This enables you not only to become more efficient and improve your running but it takes your mind off of it.
It’s hard to focus on your running form when you are running hard, so easy days are the perfect opportunity.
Easy days are important. In fact, they are vital to properly hitting your workouts and avoiding burn out.
What do you do differently on your easy days?
Are you a slave to a set pace?