Going easy is hard. I blame America. Or some big part of the culture. As I set out on this past weekend’s marathon training run, which was prescribed plainly by the reputable coaches who wrote my program (Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald), as an 8-mile easy pace run, I noticed that I had a hard time keeping it easy. One way I measure pace and effort is number of strides to match an exhale. Four or more strides per exhale is fairly easy. Two strides per exhale is a faster gear.
It’s typical for runners to not spend enough time doing workouts at distinctly different paces. Most recreational runners just go out for a run at the same pace whether they are running two miles or ten miles, no matter where they are in their training for an event. But to improve fitness and prevent injury or to aid in fat burning if you want to do that, you need to run a mix of paces. Marathon training should include a good bit of easy pace running.
So I should know, but I still find it hard to run easy. I kept checking my Garmin and needed to slow myself down by 15-30 seconds per mile. I feel like I should always be pushing. There’s a voice saying “This can’t be doing me any good if it doesn’t feel hard.” There’s a voice saying “I don’t want that other runner to think I’m slow.” There’s a voice saying, “Let’s get this workout over with–plenty of other stuff to do today.”
But I made myself slow it down and finished with a lot of energy. So 8-miler in the bag and ready for tomorrows intense track workout.