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Runners from Moms on the Run training at conversational pace

The Importance of Easy Runs

To train to run faster, you need to run slow. Sounds counterintuitive, right?!

We aren’t downplaying the importance of speed training as part of your training plan to improve your performance as a runner. However, it’s really important to understand why slow runs are just as important to help you meet your goals! Easy runs (and cross-training) should actually make up the majority of your workouts. These training runs are critical to improve your aerobic fitness level. When your heart and cardiovascular system gets stronger, your cardiac output is able to go up, so you can perform better during the times when it matters! Easy runs and hard runs train the body in fundamentally different ways. They train different energy systems in the body and even different types of muscle fibers. Easy workouts also allow you to recover properly from hard training days. 

The amount and type of workouts you do each week should be based on your personal running and fitness goals, but for the majority of us, since we do speed and hill workouts at class, most of our workouts outside of class should be done at easy pace. 80/20 is a great rule to follow for determining how much of what types of workouts to include in your training plan. 80% slow! Only 20% of your workouts should be pushing your intensity level. Based on our current schedule for intermediate runners, we recommend 5-6 total workout days, with 160 minutes of “easy” activity. This keeps your more intense training at no greater than 20% of your total workouts. 

So how do you know if it’s an “easy” run? An easy run is a low-intensity effort of a short to moderate duration, often called a recovery workout. Our National Fitness Director, Olympian Carrie Tollefson, says these workouts should be done at conversational pace — a pace where you can easily talk while running.  

To understand better why  easy runs are so important for your training plan, learn more here in this excellent article from Runner’s World.