Easy Running Needs A New Name

The staple of every running plan are “Easy Runs.” But there is more to the easy run that simply saving energy for workout days. Maybe it’s time for easy runs to have a new name.


All right. Five minute warmup. Welcome, let’s get started.

Today I want to talk about easy running and what I mean by easy running is, when you have a training block, 5K 10K half marathon, marathon, whatever it is, there’s always days that are the easy days and these are the days where you’re supposed to run easy. And I think most people have an idea of what that means, but I was in a Facebook group the other day, and a lady asked, she said she’s having a hard time on her easy days. She says she keeps running too fast. And my first reaction was maybe in our running enough because I look forward to my easy days where all I want to do is just kind of get out the door and just run easy. But she was serious and it was hurting her running because she felt like she was running too fast on those days and that made her not able to do her hard days. So most of the people that answered, there were probably like 10 comments. Nine of them were saying, hey, yeah, you got to run easy on your easy day so that you can run your hard days hard. And that’s absolutely right. No question. You don’t want to show up to your hard days tired because that’s where you’re going to get a lot of your benefits in the training block.

But the real answer, I think the reason why easy days are important, why they’re not junk miles, one gentleman got, and I liked the answer being a bit of a nerd in general but when it comes to running too. And just remembered, not a pro runner, not even that great of a runner in the grand scheme of things. So consider who take your advice from, but I am a fan of running, a fan of the sport, fan of the literature and so I know a lot about this topic. But the idea behind easy running, it’s all physiological, and the essence of it is you running any distance over like 800 meters and definitely 5K, 10K, et cetera, is primarily an aerobic activity. So, the most benefit you’re going to get is by developing your aerobic engine and your aerobic engine is a combination of your heart muscle, the strength there, your lungs, your ability to transfer oxygen to your muscles, the number of capillaries beds that exist inside your muscles that can diffuse the blood, deliver them to all the different muscle fibers in the cells. Within the cell itself, the number of mitochondria that exist. These are the power plants of cells that do create the ATP production process, which are powered by vitamin Bs, which I talk a lot about.

That is the aerobic engine. In order to build that aerobic engine, you have to run aerobically. And aerobically is easy running, it’s controlled breathing. It’s not walking. It is running where your heart’s still pumping, it’s probably less than 140 beats per minute, maybe even lower than that, a lot of different viewpoints, but it’s not 170 beats per minute. That’s when you start getting anaerobic where, there isn’t enough oxygen at the pace you’re running into your body’s having to use different energy systems.

So because running is primarily aerobic, a lot of your models, most of your miles, have to be dedicated to easy runs. And maybe the better way to call it, and maybe this is the advice I should’ve given her is, if easy is bothering you, because you feel like that means you can’t run hard and it’s a wasted day. Maybe instead of saying easy running, maybe you should cross out all the easy days and make them say aerobic days. And if you do that, then maybe you realize that the point of that day is very important. It’s not an easy necessarily, it’s an aerobic day. And the aerobic day in the grand scheme of things are your most important days.

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