Blah Blah Blah: The Importance of Easy Runs

Importance of easy runs

It seems every year; I post about the importance of easy runs.  I’ve been blogging for 10 years, so it’s about 10 posts saying about the same thing. The topic never gets old and almost every week someone emails me asking about easy runs.

Nevertheless, the importance of easy runs is still a relevant topic.

Racing your easy runs won’t get you a PR.

It won’t make you an Instagram hero either.

It will, however, get you burned out or injured.

Don’t think I haven’t run my easy runs too hard and learned the lesson of injury the hard way.  Long term readers know my first tibial stress fracture (7 years ago now) was caused by overtraining.  In short, I ran my easy runs too fast.  My last burn out wasn’t necessarily caused by running too fast, but more life stress, trying to run high mileage, and just doing too much.

Every week I post a running log and mileage recap.  Every month I do something similar.  Every week on Instagram, I get a few messages about “how fast do you run your easy runs,” I will always respond the same way: I run between 9-20 minute miles. Without fail, I’ll log some 20-minute miles on trails. Honestly, those aren’t even easy. Most of my road easy run mileage is done between 9-11 min miles.

 

So We Know the Importance of Easy Runs, but How Do You ACTUALLY Run Easy?

  • Run a route. You know the number of miles and don’t time it. I could finish 5 miles in 45 minutes or an hour…I will only have a good idea for the kitchen clock.
  • Run by time: Run for an hour, and if it’s 6 miles or 10…that’s how it goes.  JK, it would never be anything close to 10.

Both work for me and keep me healthy, both mentally and physically.

I usually have a rough outline of the runs and workouts I want to do for the week for training, but I never have an exact plan.  For instance, last week, I planned to take a rest day on Thursday, but my body was hurting on Tuesday…so I rested then too.  Some days I have more time in the morning, and some days I have less.  I ask myself: will I miss this mile next week.  No…I won’t remember. Being flexible is one of the most important parts of easy runs.

Does Not Caring about Pace Really Help Me?

One of the most important parts of easy runs is really taking it easy. Social media has caused us to get away from that. We feel “ashamed” running 10-minute miles if our PR is 6:30. No one cares.  That’s why I rarely post paces online, on Instagram, or anywhere.  Because I don’t know, and honestly, for training runs…I don’t really care.

As I mentioned earlier, it hasn’t always been that way for me. I used to be obsessed with pace and numbers.  Seven years ago, as a new runner, I would run in the same 10-second pace range for every run of the week.  That pace was between 7-7:10.  Do you know what I gave myself?  The glorious gift of a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.

Not to mention, during that period of trying to PR every run, I never got faster for races and was miserable the entire time.  Staying physically healthy is one of the most important parts of easy runs, but staying mentally healthy!

I was so antsy in training if my overall pace was 7:11+ and thought I had lost all my endurance.  It sounds silly now, but that is what the newer runner in me thought.

I Thought: Train fast to go fastRace myself and try and get faster every day.

Here are Some Interesting Stats from that Time in My Training:

During that time of my running career, my 5k PR was 20:10.  I ran about 50 miles a week between 7-7:15 pace.

Now it’s 18:13 (and I had to look, LOL).  During that time in training, I ran 60 miles a week with about 50 above 8:30 or even a 10-minute pace.

Then my half marathon PR was 1:36.56…now it’s 1:22.03

Now, I’m able to do workouts more efficiently and better.  Running an 88 second 400 doesn’t feel as challenging. My body couldn’t handle that when I was sprinting every training run.  I was also exhausted all of the time.  Even though I was running fewer miles, I was more tired.

But the most crucial part of easy runs is I enjoy going out to run without worrying about it.

For me, running is a hobby, and it’s something I want to do lifelong without stress. Not caring about pace has turned into continuing to improve on running.

Importance of Easy Runs Conclusion:

My point is to stress the importance of easy runs. Make your easy runs easy, and work hard during your workouts and races.  Honestly, without being injured or burnout, I don’t think I would have gotten to this phase in my life.  No one wants to be hurt, but from injury, I quickly learned my body doesn’t respond well to fast runs every day.

I should have renamed my blog CasualLOLZ or something.

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Questions for you:

How have your thoughts on the importance of easy runs evolved throughout the years? 

Do you schedule workouts every day or fly by the seat of your pants?