Why the “Easy Run” is Vital!

Dec 15, 2021

Looking at a Marathon for next year – Train to achieve your best

London marathon training is on the way, here is why you shouldn’t underestimate the easy run.

Whether you are in the middle of a Running Logic Training programme, or are a veteran long distance runner. Today I will explain why the easy run is so important.

  • What is an easy run?
  • How does it improve performance?
  • Why shouldn’t you leave it out?
What is an easy run?

For those who are beginning London Marathon training with us, or are beginning your running journey with a couch to 5km – you will come across the term easy run. It seems generic, and unscientific in name, however it is a cornerstone of long term running training. We call it ‘easy’ because it’s a simple subjective metric, and not everybody is monitoring heart rate or using other objective measures for performance.

An easy run is moving at a pace where you could comfortably hold a conversation. That Sunday morning with a good friend, where you can chew that fat or discuss what’s going on with the kids at school. It will generally be a minimum of 30 minutes and can extend significantly in distance, or it might even be interchanged during an interval for some recovery. Today we will focus on a standard easy run.

Keep one pace for the duration, and do not overexert yourself, you might find you really start to enjoy these.

How does it improve performance?

It doesn’t matter which cliche you use – “walk before you run”, “go slow to go fast”, they all link to the easy run. In your programme this will often come after you have had a significant effort in your previous session. It could have been a tempo or hill session, something that taxes your muscles. Following these sessions with a middle distance (30 minutes) easy run is the beginning of your active recovery. It will improve your next run, your next session. The simple process of the steady running effort brings new blood to your muscles and will flush lactic acid from the previous session. These two factors make an easy run vital for long term running performance. Further to this, and especially if you’re a beginner – you need to build an effective cardiovascular base. Building this base requires regular increased and sustained heart rate during exercise. It is a process which will take up to two years to build effectively, and will only benefit your overall health as a human being.

Why shouldn’t you leave it out?

In practice I have often observed through coaching, that the easy run can be skipped and left out. I am not always sure why, but I believe the general impression is that you will get more benefit from managing a hard interval or fast tempo. Of course this can be true under circumstances, however I highly discourage it – especially when we consider marathon training. The reason for this is ‘time under tension’ solely considering tissue resilience and injury prevention. Again this is slightly more prominent for beginners, but if your training load is significant, it matters for you too. In order to run 26 miles, your body needs to be tough, and ready to hit that concrete for between 2.5 and 6 hours – the average sitting around the 4.5 hour mark. This is where we talk about minutes not miles. An easy run, between 30 minutes and 2.5 hours is a way of adding training load and strength to your body, at a lower level of resistance. If you just try and focus on the distance, you can go over your time threshold and your body might break down. Coupled with strength training it makes up an integral component of injury prevention in running. When you are controlled in your easy run, you build muscle strength, tendon resilience and aerobic base fitness aka endurance. Personally it is my favorite type of run as I find it lifts my spirits and does marvels for stress relief and relaxation. Try not to leave it out!

Review of Main Points for your Easy Run

Keep going with that easy run! It will make you a better runner, and a stronger person!

  1. An easy run can be considered an effort of at least 30 minutes, at a speed where you can hold a conversation.
  2. This builds an aerobic base and improves overall endurance.
  3. Increasing the minutes run improves your strength and tendon resilience, preventing injury.
  4. It can be a great way to socialise, catch up with friends and relieve stress.

Build A Better Marathon Runner