Walk up to any of the people I coach and start this sentence, “Slow running…” They will instinctively respond, “…is good running.”
Technically, it’s not slow running, but running at an easy pace, but hey, why fuss when the formula works?
What is an Easy Pace?
When we say “pace,” think about how fast you move when you run. As you become familiar with running, you’ll hear people say things like “11-minute pace.” That means it takes that person 11 minutes to run one mile at their current speed (pace).
When you first begin to run, don’t worry about measuring your pace in time per mile. Instead, measure in perceived effort. During an easy run, you exert yourself at 4 to 6 on an effort scale of 1 – 10. Your heart rate is around 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. You perceive the effort, but you could do this for hours.
An easy pace is a “conversation” pace. If you can hold a conversation in paragraphs, not gasped sentences, you’re probably moving at an easy pace.
Easy running is good running. But easy running is also important running.
The Importance of Easy Running
New runners must be aware of the toos – too much, too fast, too soon. This can lead to injury.
To sustain your success, begin by building a base. Your base of fitness is made of easy or “conversation-pace” runs.
When you run, you stress your body. During the run, you might feel winded, your heart rate is elevated, and you might sweat. That is called the acute (immediate) effect.
But your body also has a long-term (chronic) reaction to repeated physical stress. This is called the training effect.
- Your muscles become stronger.
- Blood flow increases.
- Your cells become more efficient at providing energy and removing waste.
The cornerstone of the training effect is the easy run. As you build up to race day, 70% – 80% of your runs should be at an easy pace.
What Pace is Easy Pace?
Here’s a sentence you will hear from me a lot. “It depends.”
Again, it is the conversation pace. That differs for every person.
If you estimate that you can finish a half-marathon in two hours and 49 minutes (2:49:00), your race pace is about 12 minutes and 54 seconds per mile (12:54) pace. So, at what pace should you run your easy runs? 12:54? No, that’s your half-marathon race pace. Your easy runs will be around 14:36 per mile.
Here are a few other examples:
- A 2:40:00 half-marathon is run at a 12:11 race pace. For this person, an easy pace is around 13:48 per mile.
- A 2:20 half-marathon is run around a 10:44 race pace. For this person, an easy run is around 12:05 per mile.
- A two-hour half-marathon is run around a 09:10 race pace. For this person, an easy run is around 10:34 pace.
Get the idea? An easy run is significantly slower than your target race pace.
What Does This Mean for Me?
On the next run, talk to other runners. If you gasp for air as you talk, let them know you will slow down. That’s smart running.
If you want to run fast, build a base by running slowly. Run slow to go fast.
Remember, easy running is good running.
Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory:In 2022, I was scheduled to run Grandma’s Marathon. Unfortunately, I suffered a stress fracture in my left ankle in May, so I was out of the race. I decided to come to Duluth anyway. How could I miss Grandma Marathon weekend? There’s nothing else like it in the world.
I could take full advantage of the weekend because I was not stressed about resting for race day. I took my time and explored the expo. I had a chance to meet some of my running heroes. FOX25 interviewed me. I had a blast.
On race day, I saw the race as a spectator. I had a chance to see what others see, a never-ending parade of inspiring individuals, from elite athletes to the back of the pack. The looks on their faces told a story of months of sacrifice that led to this one day, Grandma’s Marathon. It was inspiring!
Quote that guides, inspires, or embodies your training, racing, or life: My race, my pace. It doesn’t matter what pace everyone else is running. This is my race, and I run it at my pace. This applies to Grandma’s Marathon and to life.
Song that must be on your running playlist: If I said murder mystery podcasts, would you be horrified?
Reason you absolutely won’t run outside: If there is a health and safety issue, I head inside. Lightning, poor air quality, temperatures that instantly freeze your skin – things like that.
2024 running goal: If my training goes well, I hope to run a 3:26 marathon. That will automatically qualify me for the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Championships.
Three words to describe your training, racing, or life: Run and have fun. OK, that’s four words. What can I say? I’m a rebel.