Bakersfield Track Club

Easy Days – Hard Days

▸ December 20, 2016

This section of the web page has been inactive since the launch the new web site. Well, no more, I have volunteered to bring you tips on a regular basis. This is my first contribution for your information and reading pleasure. – Bruce Deeter

I saw a tweet today which inspired this first “Tip/Tidbit”.

“You need to keep your easy days easy so your hard days can be hard.” 

One of the most common mistakes runners make is running too hard on their easy days. Those easy/recovery days is when your body adapts and gets stronger after the previous hard day. The Hansons Method calls those hard days “SOS Days”, for Something of Substance. Those are your speed runs, tempo runs and your long runs. But that does not diminish the importance of the easy/recovery days in between. Without full recovery your body won’t adapt and it can lead to illness, injury, stagnation and breakdown. Pete Magill, in his book, “Build Your Running Body” writes about the many levels at which recovery occurs, including:

  • Recovery between reps (during intervals, drills, etc)
  • Recovery after the workout
  • Recovery between hard workouts
  • Even recovery between seasons

One might ask how fast or slow should my easy and recovery run days be then. There a number of pace rules of thumb and charts floating around. A good general rule for both easy days and long days is keep it conversational. Meaning, run at a pace where it is comfortable to carry on a conversation. Many coaches and articles you read will tell you, that in the end, it’s about perceived effort, we shouldn’t get hung up on paces and times. I like to train that way. But I still like to track the numbers. For something more concrete or for those of us inclined to be more OCD, good pacing guidelines can be found from sources such as: the Runner’s World (RW) web site, from coaches like Greg McMillan, Jack Daniels and in the Hansons Marathon program, to name a few (I’ve included some hyperlinks below).

As an example from Hansons, your long run pace should be about 1:40 min/mile or more slower than your current 5K pace. Your easy and recovery days 1:00 to 1:30 min/mile slower than the long run pace. Using an example of someone currently running a 5K at 7:00 min/mile, then your long runs should be 8:40 min/mile or SLOWER. Your easy and recovery paces would then be 9:40 and 10:10 min/mile (or slower), respectively. Recovery pace is what you would run between intervals for example.

That’s not to say you can’t do progression long runs where you build from a slower pace and maybe run the last 3-4 miles at marathon pace. There a several variations of long runs recommended to be incorporated into a training program besides a steady paced one.

Some references of interest

  1. Runners Ally ap, available for Android and iPhone Click Here (comparable to McMillan’s formulas)
  2. Jack Daniel’s pace calculator Click Here
  3. Pete Magill’s “Build Your Running Body” links: Amazon Barnes & Noble
  4. RW Article on what some elites do for easy runs, chart at end with some suggested training paces Click Here
  5. Hansons Web site Click Here
  6. Hansons Marathon Method Book Amazon Barnes & Noble
  7. Hansons Half Marathon Book Amazon Barnes & Noble

So remember – keep your easy days easy so your hard days can be hard

12/20/2016 by Bruce Deeter