We have thrown a lot of really cool and challenging workouts at you over the past year; some to build strength and some to build speed. The true staple to any successful running plan is the EASY run. It sounds so simple. Run at an easy pace for 6 miles. Junk miles, right? Not at all.
First, why is easy running important? Easy runs act as both active recovery and endurance building tools. We recommend a ratio of 80% easy runs to 20% goal specific runs. On the average week, you should have one, maybe two workouts that are higher intensity, aimed at specific speed or endurance. The rest should be run at a pace that is comfortable. You may have heard of “conversation pace running” or “Brady Bunch pace running”. You should be able to hold a conversation with someone without having any trouble talking and breathing. Or singing the Brady Bunch theme song: “Here’s a story … of a lovely lady …” Never heard it? I must be getting old. Truthfully, I only heard it called Brady Bunch pace once, but it stuck in my head, just like the song is stuck in your now. That’s a decent way to get a feel for easy pace running and probably works great for beginner to intermediate runners.
It is hard to slow down, though. I know I have had conversations with runners during races going at a sub 6:00 per mile pace. Was that easy? No. But I could hold a conversation and still breathe fine. So that kind of throws the conversation pace out the window.
For me, it helps to look at numbers. If your 5k pace is around 6:00 per mile, try an easy pace of about 1.25 to 1.5 times which would be 8:30 – 9:00 mile. Too easy? Not at all. It takes some getting used to, but in the long run (pun intended), easy runs will help build endurance and aid in recovery.
For your workout, make sure you warm up with dynamic stretches such as lunges, squats, and leg swings. Then, head out for an easy run. You pick the distance. Make it fun. Clear your mind. Don’t look at your watch. Don’t worry about your splits. No one on Strava will judge you. After you are finished, do some static stretches.