On April 18th, I have started running mostly easy runs at about 140 heart beats per minute. Watching my heart rate kept my pace at 9:40 minute mile. If you ask me earlier to run at that pace, I would have dismissed it thinking that I won’t be getting any training benefit. Compared to the earlier pace of 7:40 minute mile, 9:40 felt like a long warm up without a climax. But that was what my heart rate told me that I needed to train at.
Running easy meant that I could run more days. I used to be happy with getting 3 days of run each week. Running easy allowed me to squeeze in another couple of runs per week without feeling too tired. So by running easy, I could increase my weekly mileage to 30 miles per week over time. Over the last couple of weeks, I was able to log 30+ miles each week. That would not have been possible unless I have gotten most of miles from my easy runs.
It may be little premature to report the progress. But I feel a lot better about doing my 5-6 milers. I am more relaxed, and I do not have to dig in deep to finish the run strong. Even after finishing my runs, I feel as though I can go on for another hour or so. And all of that while increasing my easy running pace to 9 minute mile.
It’s very counter intuitive. I have been training all these time at much higher intensity, and remember running just as much as I have been training. But for whatever reason, easy runs are really allowing me to increase my easy run pace without getting tired as much. I did not see that benefit when I was training for my first marathon earlier in the year.
I can see how easy runs can improve my aerobic capacity and overall running pace. I just have to keep at it.