Unpopular Opinion Alert: I don’t find any run easy regardless or pace or distance.
There, I said it.....(Throws hands up to protect myself)
When you look at any training schedule most of your runs more than likely are labeled as “easy”. I try not to give a lot of power to words but I always laughed at this.
Every run requires effort and discipline in some regards. Easy runs are basically when you aren’t supposed to push your pace or run hard. They are supposed to be relaxed and comfortable—-but regardless of those factors they aren’t easy. They require restraint, focus and fighting the never ending urge to go faster.
I get it: one of the biggest goals for runners is to get faster. But I would be remised to not bring up the age old tale of the tortoise and the hare...
Let me be clear that I am not pace shaming. What is someone else's "easy" pace is another persons race pace and THAT IS OK. This is why I prefer to refer to them as relaxed runs. They shouldn’t be a big huffing and puffing fest, these runs shouldn’t leave you so zapped of energy that you can’t manage for the rest of the day and most importantly these runs shouldn’t make you feel like less of a runner. These runs should let you smile, look around at the birds/trees, check out who has the best holiday decorations or whatever else can catch your eye while you put in the miles.
At one point or another every athlete struggles to run "slower".
The best runners don’t run their fastest paces all the time. If you flip through IG, Strava or whatever you use to have a birds eye view of the elites and their training you will see that they aren't running every run or every workout at a gut busting 5 min pace. They know that in order to go hard on speed days and to make progress they can't push their bodies 100% of the time. Those easy runs allow you to expand your aerobic capacity and let your body recover from those hard days where you truly need to be pushing the limits.
It's just like your car; if you keep your foot on the gas the entire time you're going to burn through your fuel faster than if you put it on cruise control for a good portion and choose wisely to speed up.
So what is this the point of this long winded lecture?
I challenge you to listen to your coaches, follow your plans and really be mindful to slow down your pace. Don't be afraid of what the watch says, listen to what your body feels. Let go of the ego, let go of the thoughts of what another runner may say and let go of the fact that running slower will make you slower. I promise, if you run your easy miles easy you will see the payoff and you will feel a difference. Your legs won't be as heavy, you wont dread every run and most importantly you won't have your coach begging you to pleaseeeeeeeee stop running your easy days at 5k pace.
Then we can move on to begging you to warm up before runs and to actually do the strength training we put on your schedule....