Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Adjusting Easy Training: Running the Right Kind of Easy

One thing runners often err on is their easy pace. They run a great workout, average 7:00 pace per mile, and then come back the next day and run 9:00 minute miles in recovery. This type of training, something I would never condone as a coach (click here for more information on coaching).

So why is the establishment of such pacing essential? Why can’t one just go out and run without giving the pace a thought? The fact of the matter is, most articles that cover the plateau effect, where a runner sees diminishing growth in their performance and fitness, comes from the fact that the spend too much time running too easy. They are capable of running at 8:30 pace for a long, long time, but because 8:30 requires an alteration of their comfort zone, they run 9:30 pace and then complain that their 5k time will not improve. This is not to say that running easy is not recommended, in fact it is the majority of your weekly miles, but what is important is to understand that your easy pace, the pace you run long runs in, warm-ups, cool downs, and steady runs in, needs to be at a level that also creates and promotes fitness.

Skora Bases
With this in mind, consider converting your easy pace over to something that meets the above criteria, something that is not easy but easy enough not to overstress the system. Our legs need to incur stress during these runs, but not workout stress. I place runners all over on E runs based on their goals and adjust this pace as they improve. Currently, I have an easy pace of 8:01 per mile. Not too fast, but most definitely not slow (depending on the runner that is, I make all of these judgmental statements about myself). This pace will elevate my performance in a multitude of distances and ultimately allow for a faster easy pace.

Now I have a per run goal, a need for all runners, and a way to avoid junk miles. This pace is to be replicated over the course of runs, whether I feel fresh, fast, and thus able to go, or if I am beat up from a quality workout. This is to apply a proper amount of stress to my system, to force my system to adapt, and in doing so, force my overall level of fitness to increase. Off course, I have to work into it. Some days this effort comes easy, others I struggle, but my goal is to hit this mark more often than not a per run average (regular runs not workouts). As a runner adapts and becomes more serious, such training should be taken into account.

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