One question we often get at our Running Vacations is: How fast should my easy runs be? This is a great question, and the answer can be frustratingly vague. See, the true test of an easy run is to make sure you’re running at a pace where you can recover. The actual pace that is will vary greatly depending on things like the weather and your level of fatigue – which itself can be impacted by your training schedule, sleep, stress and a myriad of other factors.
The importance of easy days is to recover, regardless of the pace. A great way to understand what that effort should feel like is to view your easy days as “conversational” paced running. You should be able to have a casual conversation running at an easy pace without struggling to breath. If you can’t get out more than few words at a time before gasping for breath that’s a sure fire sign you’re running too hard. Next time you’re out practice talking in full sentences to gauge your effort.
Our On ZAP Endurance athletes will have easy paces that vary as much as 2 minutes per mile. But just for reference, on average they probably run about 90 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace. Often times when they’re training hard their easy runs will actually get slower. Even though that’s the time where their fitness is increasing they run slower on easy days to make sure they’re recovering from hard workouts, and you should too.