Easy runs are great. They feel comfortable, you don’t usually get injured doing them and they should make up 80% of your running week (either by time or distance)
Of course, If you are just starting out running for the first time you may think that “easy running” is a contradiction in terms. However, as the 100,000s of people (and many of my patients) who have completed the “couch to 5k” (C25k) programme will attest too, it is possible. If you have never come across C25k, it is a 9 week programme which helps people achieve a 5km run based on running 3x per week.
In week 1, the programme starts with brisk walking, 60 second periods of jogging (6 mins total) and plenty of rest in between for 20minutes total. By the end, the aim is to be able to run for 30mins continuously. You can find the details here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/. By initially breaking up the running with periods of walking you can avoid that horrible feeling of running out of breath and being forced to stop before you want to.
Once you are running regularly you might be tempted to train hard each time you put your trainers on. Seeing your pace improve is quite addictive and initially this might bring you quicker results. Unfortunately, it is unsustainable in the long term as you are much more likely to get running injuries, burn out, or just plateau. There are two main reasons for this:
- Firstly, when you run hard you put much more impact through your body which eventually leads to injury if you are not physically prepared for it.
- Secondly, when you run harder than you should, it negatively effects your ability to do your harder run(s) properly. You end up fatigued and in the “mediocre middle” – not running easy enough to increase your weekly/monthly distances and not being able to hit top speeds on your hard day(s). Just remember “Keep your easy days easy and your hard days hard”
So, my top tip for easy runs is to forget about pace all together. Just go for an easy effort. Breath easy and take the time to enjoy the view.