Last week my running was a bit all over the place. I had to switch my schedule around too which drove me a little crazy, since I’m a creature of habit. I tried to go with the flow but I wasn’t that great at it. This is a new week though so just focusing on that!

Sunday morning I went out for my long run. Let me just say – I prefer doing my long run on Saturday. I really enjoy having Sunday to relax and recover before the next week, but sometimes other things happen that require adjustments.

I woke up Sunday morning really not feeling like doing a long run. My mileage had been cut back from 18 to 12 for the day due to my rib, but I was struggling. I put on my clothes, tried not to think about it, ignored the fact that iPod was dead even after charging it all night, and went out the door. The run never really felt good. My body was tired and I still wasn’t 100% but I completed it. Thank goodness we didn’t keep it at 18!

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Monday morning I knew I needed to let my body recover. It’s been through sickness, now trying to fully heal itself, and I can tell it takes its toll some days.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said over and over again – take your easy days easy. It’s true. This is one of the most important parts of any training, but actually doing so isn’t always easy.

So the question remains, how do you really run easy?

 

 I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that have worked for me that I thought I would share with you today. These are tips that I use every single week.

Monitor Your Heart Rate

I used to try to monitor my heart rate by not wearing music and just listening and try to be in tune with it. I’m not sure it ever really worked correctly.

The moment I started monitoring my heart rate though, it has really opened my eyes. There are a lot of things that can alter your heart rate, so just because one pace shows it in the right range one day doesn’t mean it will be the same the next.

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There are a couple ways of doing this. I have used the chest rate straps in the past, but never really enjoyed wearing it. I know many runners that do and many of the Garmin watches and other fitness trackers can be paired with one. At Christmas I received the Garmin Forerunner 235 which has the infrared monitoring in your wrist. There are some people who don’t believe it is exactly accurate, but for me it has worked perfectly in allowing me to monitor it more closely.

 

Wear Extra Layers

This doesn’t work well during the super-hot and humid months, but during spring/fall/winter it helps me slow down. Instead of dressing super light I will try to add an extra layer. This keeps me a little warmer and helps me to slow my pace down.

It can be as simple as arm sleeves, gloves, or even a light weight long sleeve over my tank top on a 50 degree morning. I know it may sound a little crazy, but it has worked for me.

 

Skip the Music

I know this may be really hard for some. I don’t wear music at all during the week unless I am on the treadmill, so I have learned how to run pretty easily without. However, I find that when I run with music I will pick up the pace without even realizing it.

If I have an easy run on the schedule, even on a weekend, I leave the iPod at home. I save my music for the tougher or longer runs when I’m OK to pick up the pace. This is also great training for helping you be able to race without music.

 

Wear Heavier Shoes

Over the past week or so I’ve been wearing heavier shoes for all my runs. I’m not quite ready to wear lighter shoes due to my rib. Even before I had this annoying injury, I saved my heavier trainers for easy days. This doesn’t necessarily slow me down, but it does help me to not have as much of an urge to go so quick.

 

Hide/Leave Your Watch

I always like to run with my Garmin, even if it is an easy day, because during a lot of my runs I just run aimlessly so I’m not sure where the mile markers are. However, even though I am wearing my watch I always keep it under my jacket or turn it so that I can’t look at it.

If you are one of those who is really bad about looking at your watch, try turning all notifications (and vibrations) off and just check it every 10-15 minutes or so. Your GPS watch is a great tool but is sometimes too much. If it doesn’t matter what pace you are going on easy days, then don’t look. I often found myself speeding up when I’d look at it.

 

Running easy is so important to staying healthy and keeping your joy for running. Relax, enjoy the beauty around you, and don’t think about being in a training cycle.

 

How often do you have easy runs?

Do you do anything in particular to help yourself slow down?

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