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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Running Slower to Run Faster: The Benefits of an Easy Run

I have said it before: 80% of your weekly miles should be at least 90 seconds slower per mile than your 5K race pace.  In the training schedule that I just designed for myself, the pace of my “easy runs” is almost two minutes slower than my 5K race pace.  My “long runs” will be at about 85 seconds slower per mile than my 5K race pace.

If my goal is to run much faster in a race, how does it make sense to run so many miles so slowly?

Here is a list of the benefits you gain from running at this much slower pace:

  • Specific muscle fiber adaptation – your slow-twitch muscles are activated, cuing them to grow and strengthen
  • Tendon & bone development – increased use of the tendons & bones also cues your body to strengthen these, reducing your
  • Improved running economy – your body responds to the increased mileage by figuring out how to do more with less in terms of oxygen and energy
  • Glycogen storage & fat utilization – running at lower intensities, you burn more fat than carbohydrates
  • Mitochondrial growth & disbursement – burning more fat cues the body to develop more and bigger mitochondria, our fat-burning furnaces
  • Capillary development – the use of more resources cues the body to develop additional capillaries to deliver those resources efficiently
  • Improved VO2max & General endurance – all of these adaptations lead to better fitness and faster paces on race day!

All of these benefits come from the increased mileage that you get from easy running days.  Easy runs are not junk miles.  Easy runs are not optional.  They lead to success.

Remember This:

Because easy runs put less stress on your body while still providing this long list of benefits, these are the miles that make you less prone to injury during the more strenuous workouts and races!

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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3 responses to “Running Slower to Run Faster: The Benefits of an Easy Run

  1. Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen) November 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I really love this list!! These are the kinds of things I was hoping for today (and every Saturday) when I am doing my long slow zone 2 ish runs. Thx for the list!!

  2. Tina@GottaRunNow November 4, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Great reminders to think about when we’re taking it easy between hard running days!

  3. Lisa April 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    This is a good reminder! I have a hard time letting myself do this, it feels like I’m being “lazy”

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