How many of you go out and run all of your training runs at the same pace?
I met a woman last month who recently started running 3-4 times per week in addition to her usual routine of swimming. She said that she is enjoying it much more than she thought she would and was very proud of running at a 9:30 pace. I told her that sounded great and we agreed on how freeing running can feel. Then, being the therapist I am, I asked if she could carry on a conversation or sing the Brady Bunch song while running at that pace. She said, probably not and admitted she’d probably only be able to say a couple of words as she would be too winded.
You may have read about my patient, Carney, who likes to run at a fast clip for all his training runs – not his race pace, mind you, but faster than his easier pace.
As creating a training plan is not my strong suit, this post will focus on one thing only — why running easy is important. For many of my patients, the lack of this knowledge often contributes to why they show up at my door injured.
So, what is your easy pace?
Can you carry on a conversation or sing a song while running? That’s your easy pace.
You may find that your easy pace could be up to 2 minutes slower than your race pace (the pace you run at during a race)! I know, I can hear the gasps…“that’s so slow!”
Why is it important to run at an easy pace?
Any run that does not have a targeted reason, such as intervals, tempo runs, and hills, should be done at an easy pace. The purpose of the easy pace run is to build time on your feet. This gets your body, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons used to the repetitive pounding. It also helps build your aerobic engine, or cardiac endurance. In essence, the easy run does have a purpose.
When training for any distance race, whether running or triathlon, you should follow a plan. For those of you who tend not to be injury prone or who are not vieing for a significant improved PR, you can find a plethora of training plans online that will fit your needs. My friend, Sheryl, has found great luck working with CARA training plans and does her long runs with the group each Saturday morning.
However, if you are injury prone or you want to improve your race times, then I recommend seeking out a custom training plan from a running or triathlon coach. Coaches often have varying levels of involvement, so choose a coach and plan that allows for some communication and the ability to adjust as your needs change.
What if you’re like that woman I met last month who isn’t training for anything specific but is just running for fitness? Is it still important to go at an easy pace? I say yes; the majority of your runs throughout the week, should be easy, but one of your runs could be faster or longer. This is one step towards preventing injury.
As I discussed in another blog post, Carney was recommended to run slow for all of his runs until his strength in his left leg evened out with his right leg. Now, he is working with his coach to determine what his paces should be for all his training runs.
The moral of the story is: Enjoy the easy runs, it’s a wonderful time to catch up with friends and enjoy the scenery!
Want to have your running analyzed to further decrease chance of injury? Give me a call or take a moment to read more about my running services. Happy Running!