Easy running

Published 26th January 2021 by mymo

Easy running should be easy, right? The truth is many of us are doing it wrong. We are overcomplicating something that should be the best part of being a runner. Easy running should fit into your training weeks. It should be there to enrich you. It should be the best part of your training week in many ways! So, how can we get it right, and what should our easy runs look like?

How easy is easy?

This is something that is totally unique to you, and something that will change over time and depending on many factors. ‘Easy’ shouldn’t be a set pace or expectation, and it shouldn’t be led by the numbers on your watch. An easy run should feel comfortable, not leave you short of breath and as British Athlete Holly Rush comments, “should leave you feeling like you can just keep going for another few miles at least” when it’s time to stop. Holly, who is a former international marathon and Mountain Championship runner adds that easy runs are likely to change in pace depending on how tired you are, and should never impact on your harder workout days. Some coaches recommend running your easy runs should be slower than 30 secs per mile than you naturally want to go, but it really should be all on feel.

Holly Rush (photo credit: Pete Stables)

How are we getting in wrong?

One of the first things to consider in this is technology. Often we are using wearable tech when we run that might complain if we have an easier day, by telling us we are losing fitness. We’re not. Easy running helps to aid recovery from longer or harder workout days and your watch may not realise that. You may also run a little faster than is best for you due to pressures of social media. If you have an online profile followed by a lot of fellow runners, you might want to keep up appearances of always running fast. Try to put that aside and focus on you - comparison is rarely helpful in running! Life can also add pressures to easy running. You might be limited for time in the day to run meaning you naturally push a bit harder, or running while feeling stressed can also have the same effect.

Is it worth it?

There are training theories that recommend doing up to 80% of your weekly mileage easy to build endurance, something some coaches call ‘building the engine’ so you can adapt better to the harder or faster days. The amount of easy running you do will depend on what you’re training for and how long you have to spend on it. Many elite athletes have shared the pace of their easy runs (often around two minutes slower per mile than race pace depending on event) showing easy running is for everyone.

How can I go easy?

There are many ways to key into your easy pace, the first being using your watch to pace yourself as diligently as you do to pace your fast workouts. Conversely, you might just need to leave the technology at home! Either way, be aware of the pace and keep it slow. Some like to meet others for their easy runs, knowing this is a chance to socialise and catch up on the run, with conversational pace guaranteed. Hitting trails can also slow you down, as can the company of an audiobook or podcast. Whatever works for you! Holly Rush reminds us also that “easy runs can be different every day” so don’t get hung up on pace, and learn to love the easy days.


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