Why I’m Adding Slow Runs Into My Routine

If you guys have been reading for awhile, you know that I’ve been on a bit of a “running streak.”   I am a running junkie and literally crave the endorphine high.  Unfortunately, with the cold we’ve all been dealing with, most all of my miles have been on the treadmill, while equals boredom.  With boredom, for me, comes speed/interval work to make it interesting.

While this is great training periodically, I have gotten into a habit of doing this runs for a good 90% of my training.

  • My current PR for a 5k is in the 26 minute range
  • My half marathon PR is in the 2:06 range.

But my average mile splits over the last few months on the good ol’ treadmill have been much closer to 830 minute miles.  NOT exactly what I should be averaging when I’m running 6-7 days a week, when I have a half marathon goal of 9-min miles.

No wonder my body basically hates me.  

True:  I am TRYING to completely burn myself out so I don’t even THINK about stressing out over running during our honeymoon (less than 2 weeks!).  BUT, that doesn’t mean that I should be totally ignoring what I already know.  Even if I’m not doing distance right now, I NEED TO INCORPORATE EASY or RECOVERY RUNS INTO MY ROUTINE.  Not only do I need to incorporate them, they should be more than half of my runs.

Why I AM going to add recovery runs into my routine:

First and foremost:  Because I want to keep running.  And if I want to keep running, I need to run smart.

Easy runs are typically 3-6 miles and at a pace of about 1-2 minutes SLOWER THAN YOUR MARATHON PACE. (If you are training for short distance, think even slower.  5k race your goal? Better at least be running your easy runs 2 minutes slower than goal).

Trust me, I get that it’s hard to run slow when your goal is to gain speed, but, contrary to how it may seem, EASY RUNS WILL HELP YOU GET FASTER.

If all of our runs are speed work/full exertion, when does our body recover?  For my entire last training cycle I incorporated “shake out runs” on the day after my long runs . . . and they were miracle workers.  BUT THEY NEED TO BE SLOW/EASY EFFORT.  It is THESE runs that actually help your body to repair the muscles and remove all the acid built up in our muscles.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  Trust me . . . your next run will thank you.

Don’t believe me? Check out this diagram I found


Look at ALL THE BENEFITS a simple easy run can do for us as runners (http://runneracademy.com/importance-of-easy-runs/).   Check out the source for a more detailed explanation for each of those benefits.

My Plan

I haven’t decided 100% what my Spring/Summer race schedule will look like (I have a few things floating in the ol’ brain currently, and hope to know by the end of February for sure), but I DO KNOW what I want my schedule to look like.

  • Monday: Cross Train/Stregnth training or Yoga
  • Tuesday: EASY RUN
  • Wednesday: Speed/Hill work
  • Thursday: EASY RUN
  • Friday: REST/YOGA
  • Saturday: LONG RUN

So my friends, yes that is still 5 days of running planned.  Absolutely things could change between now and then, but I can’t change the fact that I LOVE RUNNING.  It makes me a better person and I’ve just come to terms with that :).  BUT, I am making a goal of having more of my runs be EASY RUNS this cycle.  Yes, EASY.

And for me, those easy runs damn well better be at or below  10 min pace. SLOW YOUR ROLL ASHLEY.  I want my speed work to kick ass, so those will hopefully dip into the 8:XX with out problem, but in order to do that I need my slow runs to be SLOW.

As for the long runs, I need to figure out what pace I want those at.  With a 9:00 half goal (no idea what a full marathon goal would be.  Maybe 10 min/mile?), I am assuming I want those to be somewhere near the easy pace as well, with more flexibility to have them be faster if the legs are feeling it.

Ok friends . . . THAT is why I am incorporating slow runs back into the ol’ routine.  Thanks for listening, and RUN HAPPY! 🙂

40 thoughts on “Why I’m Adding Slow Runs Into My Routine

  1. learning to take my long runs/easy days slow was really hard for me too, but once I did I found that I was actually getting faster because I was recovering quicker. Do you have half planned for this year?

  2. I found that the few treadmill workouts I did in my training, that they didn’t capture the real effort it takes to run outside – propelling, turning, hills, wind, etc. Mix it up if you can! And yes, they say the long run should be like a minute slower per mile than your goal marathon pace. Unless you’re like me – I go balls out every run!!! JK.

  3. Easy runs will change your running for the better, I swear! I make sure to do at least one easy run between any hard runs (speed, tempo, or longer than normal distances) and I swear it keeps me injury free. I do my easy runs about a minute and a half slower than my half pace so it can be hard sometimes to see myself running slower but its worth it!

  4. Great thought! Whenever I up my mileage I always take it nice and easy. I’d like to say that’s intentional, but now that I have this handy infographic, I can support what my body’s been telling me all along! Keep up the great posts!

  5. I need to make sure to incorporate some easy runs for me, I tend to start dropping speeding then adding mileage at the same time, and of course that leads to issues (shin splints) for me! I find if I watch TV while I run, it’s easier to maintain a slower pace and be less boring 🙂

  6. I totally get this! It’s super hard for me mentally to get over running slower speeds on easier runs. It makes me feel like I’m a slow runner, but I know that’s just my pride getting in the way.

  7. I totally agree with all of this!

    I’m aiming for a 2 hour half in March. Right now I only run 3x per week and it usually goes Tuesdays (5k recovery run), Thursdays (5 miles, alternate every other week whether it’s a “race pace” run or an “easy” run), and Saturdays (long runs, I try to keep my pace faster than 9:30 but I never push myself too hard). With this schedule I’ve been really happy with my progress as far as speed goes, and I don’t feel like I’m pushing my body too hard. I also have 1-2 days of cross training of course 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

  8. Great plan, my friend! I’m trying to slowly remind myself I need some less intense days to reap the benefits of all my craziness. It’s not easy, but I’m working on trimming back some of the workouts. I think I might have to borrow some of your plan there!

  9. I love easy runs! They also clear out the junk and soreness in my muscles after a long and/or hard run. Another thing to think about is switching up your speed when you’re increasing your distance. Say you’re aiming to run 10 miles (to choose a random number) for the first time in a while during a training run. The first time I do it, I run at an easy and run until I hit 10 miles. The next time I’m aiming for 10 miles, I set my goal on running 10 miles at a set pace that’s closer to race pace. That way I work on distance, as well as speed (just on different days).

  10. It’s hard to run slower – I feel like if I run easy then I kinda slacked, and I hate that! But you’re totally right, you need the easy recovery runs, they are important. I’ll try to remember that!

  11. GOOD twin! Sooo important to incorporate easy runs into your routine! I have been doing that since starting my training plan and I can tell it works. When I was running hard all the time before, I got injured…Pro-athletes do the same (so I read in Runner’s World and other articles)- so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

  12. I love the concept of an easy run…and looking at your reasons and research I think you are doing a good thing 😀

    however, I just have on sort of run…it is a “hard work, just hoping to go further before I have to walk” type run…but I am (still just a beginner 🙂 ) your running adventures inspire me to keep going 😀

  13. I need to work on my slow runs too. I tried to make my long runs my slow runs a couple weeks ago. I was aiming for a 10:00min mile/pace. I struggled to slow down and ended up at 9:30. It’s so hard for me to slow down- I feel like the slower I go, the more my legs hurt. Which probably means I am using different muscles that need worked anyways!

    This would probably be easier on a TM…but I can’t run on that dreaded TM…

  14. I really needed your post! I have been stuck with the same situation, i’m on the treadmill, i’m bored want to/ need to get off and so I just keep increasing my speed. I need to learn to slow it down and realize that easy runs are good for and actually have benefits! I love your diagram and I think I am going to print it off and place it on the treadmill so when I do my easy run, I actually do my easy run!

  15. You’re so right! One of the things I struggle with is that its ok and important to take it down a notch sometimes and let your body recover

  16. Pingback: Findings on the Web | Positive Changes For Life

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