I don’t remember many quotes I read, but there is one quote that has stuck with me after reading it on blog a couple years ago. The quote went like this:
“We aren’t racing to train; we are training to race.”
I was reminded of this quote as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed recently. I came across post of a woman doing an easy run around a 7 minute/mile pace. My first thought was, “Wow, that’s fast! I don’t even do my easy, training runs at that pace.” As I looked at this women’s pictures more, I discover her most recent marathon time was just shy of 4 hours. (That’s a pace of 9 minutes per mile.) I started to wonder. . . .is she racing to train?
My point of sharing this example is NOT to judge her for what she’s accomplished. There could be a lot more to the story. . .maybe during this 7 minute paced workout she was feeling particularly speedy. Or maybe her 4 hour marathon isn’t her best time. . .maybe she was running with someone else.
Anyway, I do think some people do their training runs too quickly. Instead of doing these easy runs at a comfortable pace, they do every training run as fast as they can. And let me tell you, that is not going to make you faster! You need these easy runs to help your legs recover a little in between the hard days.
Even I’ve had to tell myself that it is okay to run slow on my easy, recovery days. As much as I want to boast that all of my runs are speedy, they are far from it compared to the paces I race at. For example, here are the last 5 easy-paced runs I’ve done and my average times: 8:51, 8:24, 8:20, 8:36, 8:18. These are not fast, ground-breaking times; they are relatively slow. Now granted it is winter, and I am never able to run as faster during the winter due to the ice and snow. (The roads have literally been covered in ice all winter long here.) Plus my muscles don’t respond as well during the cold months compared to the warmer temperatures in the 60s and higher during the summer. However, these are quite slow compared to the paces I run for hard workouts and during my races.
For comparison, these are the average paces of my currents PRs in each of the corresponding distances.
5K pace – 6:13
10K pace – 6:27
Half-marathon pace – 6:38
Marathon pace – 7:05
Now compare that to my average easy run pace during the winter: 8:20 – 8:50
That’s 1.5 minutes per mile slower than my marathon race pace and up to 2.5 minutes per mile slower for my 5K time.
The moral of this post is encourage you to take the time to slow those easy runs down (if you don’t already) and give your legs a break from running fast. You should be able to carry on a conversation with someone pretty easily during an easy run. If you are only able to spit out one or two words at a time, you are running too fast. These easy runs are to help build endurance while giving your legs a break from the hard workouts. Honor the rest so you can run fast during the next workout and perform well on race day.