There’s one thing for sure – endurance training is not for those who struggle with time. However, even though training volume is one of the big factors that affects running performance, it’s not only about running more. Athletes need to ensure their body is able to sustain the workload and keep up with the training schedule. Which is where easy run pace becomes very important.
It sounds counter-intuitive to run slow to get faster. But that is one of the key factors to increase your overall endurance and fitness level. In fact, running just a little too hard on easy days is one of the reasons why so many athletes dread hard workouts and unable to progress in the long term.
Easy run pace – how running slow makes us fast
While it sounds simple enough, there is some confusion of what easy run pace should be. Some say it is 1-2 minutes slower than your marathon pace. Others propose it’s 55%-75% of your 5K pace. But most of the runners just go with what feels easy.
The problem with such approach is that what feels easy is very vague. Depending on the pain threshold or ego this easy pace can get over-exaggerated.
Personally, I believe in a more scientific approach. In particular, using heart rate to guide your training is a great way to make sure easy run pace is adjusted to your fatigue level and fitness. More on this in the video:
Results From One Month Of Easy Running
When we talk about building aerobic base we’re essentially talking about 2 factors – improve overall endurance and build strength in primary and supportive muscles. Easy run pace is perfect for this, because it doesn’t add too much fatigue and allows to build a consistent schedule of 5-6 training days per week. This, in turn, triggers smaller adaptations every other day and builds sustainable fitness naturally.
In my case, after a month of such consistent workload my easy run pace (mid Z2) improved from ~5:30/km in mid-May to ~5:05/km in mid-June.
It’s been a whole month of organized marathon training. From experience I know that after around 20 hours of consistent exercise my body starts to adjust to the process. With consistent training 6 days per week (mostly at easy run pace) I can really feel that now. Here’s how my training schedule for week 4 looked like:
- Mon: 30min run – easy, incl. 20min at Z3
- Tue: 45min run – easy
- Wed: 30min run – easy (fasted)
- Thu: 1h bike ride – easy
- Fri: 45min bike ride – easy, incl. 2x10min at Z3
- Sat: 50min run – easy (fasted)
- Sun: 30min run – moderate
If you are looking for a coach, a tailored training program or someone to guide you through the process of training, do reach out for coaching with me via this link.
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