This is a great post by Tina Muir, one of my favourite (elite) running bloggers about running easy – truly easy. Running slower is something I’ve been consciously trying to do since 2014 after listening to Matt Fitzgerald’s podcast on the Runners Academy about 80/20 Running
And when I strapped on a HR monitor after being told that our idea of running easy is not always actually easy (e.g. even if you can carry on a conversation or you feel like you’re running slower than you normally do), I was surprised that I was still running too fast. I had a bit of a rude awakening and while it was a difficult pill to swallow, I resolved myself to slow down even more.
Running slower based on heart rate is something I’ve been consciously trying to do since last year (August 2015). Truth time: despite having run with a HR monitor over the last year, I can’t say I’ve actually been the greatest at keeping my easy runs easy all the time.
I used to have a very narrow window of paces that I would do my easy / recovery runs at. I got away with it for a while, but eventually, everything just started to feel really hard. Paces that were once easy for me, suddenly felt 10x harder than they should. Every run was a struggle and I started to dread it. Classic signs of overtraining, right? I think overtraining can be a result of several things, including spending too much time running in the medium intensity zone. So how slow did I really need to go to run easy? For me, getting a heart rate monitor helped.
And while understanding what paces you “should” be running is, and always will be, individual, I loved that Tina put some actual numbers for the sake of her example:
“My marathon race pace is around 6:00 per mile, my recovery runs are about 9:00 per mile.”
Translation for us who think in terms of km/min:
race pace: 6:00/mi = 3:44/km
easy pace: 9:00/mi = 5:35/km
First thing’s first. I clearly do not have a marathon race pace of 6:00/mi or 3:44/km. But how often did I do my easy runs at a 9:00/mi or 5:35/km? Uhm… often. Again, I realize that it’s all subjective and there’s no hard and fast rule, but it’s an awesome reminder that there’s no shame in running slower (and then even slower than what you think is already “slow” like it was in my case). I like that using your HR as your guide takes away a lot of guessing. And even if my HR monitor isn’t 100% accurate, it’s still something consistent that I can compare each run to. It’s not like our GPS-based paces are 100% accurate, either.
Unfortunately, the majority of the world runs faster than me right now (lol, another problem for another day). That has meant a lot of solo running, which is lonely at times, but it also means I’ve been feeling better these days and still loving to run. If that means slowing down more than my ego tells me to run, then so be it.