Video: How fast should I run on my easy runs?

by Jason Fitzgerald

It’s a tough question:

How fast should I run on my easy days in between workouts?

Fast Runner

Just think of all of the ways we describe the pace you should run on “easy runs:”

  • easy
  • recovery
  • moderate
  • slow
  • relaxed

Then there’s also the concept of “base runs” and “recovery runs.” Some runners will have both, while others just have recovery runs. And while recovery runs should definitely be easy, base runs should also be fairly easy.

No wonder you might be confused!

How Fast Should I Run?

In college, my XC coach had specific goal times planned for every workout: tempo runs, track intervals, and race pace sessions. Faster workouts like this accounted for 2-3 of our runs every week.

But most of us ran nine or ten times a week! How fast should the other runs be?

How many of them are base runs and which ones are recovery runs?

To help explain the differences – and give you advice on how fast you should run during your non-workout days – I recorded a video where I explain the Three C’s of Easy Runs.

Remember these key lessons:

  • Your true recovery run pace is as slow as possible while still feeling good (sometimes, too slow is bad)
  • Base runs – or standard distance runs – should be comfortable, controlled, and conversational
  • While base runs can be a more moderate effort, the priority of your week is your long run (a longer base run) and key workouts

How Should I Plan My Easy Runs?

There are countless ways to structure a training plan. Many runners reserve Sunday for the long run, while others do it on Saturday so they can party that night and not worry about it when they’re hung over. I get it!

In his book Run Faster, Brad Hudson schedules his plans around a Sunday LR and Tuesday/Thursday workout. There’s no right or wrong way to do it – more importantly, it’s the principles underlying the pattern of runs that’s critical.

With family and job commitments, it’s impossible to write a one-size-fits-all training schedule (that’s why my runners benefit so much from personalized training plans).

But I wanted to provide one example of how to structure a week of training for a marathoner:

Workout Structure

In this weekly structure there are five days of running, two complete rest days, and one true recovery run. This schedule works for runners who can run five days per week but need extra recovery.

You can plan your runs very differently, but follow these principles:

  • Don’t schedule two difficult days in a row
  • Avoid front-loading your week with mileage and intensity – keep it spaced evenly
  • Prioritize your key workouts (i.e., make your hard days harder and your easy days easier)
  • If you’re a beginner, take more than one easy day in between difficult workouts

Many runners spend countless hours researching the “best” ways to plan their training and trying to schedule the perfect workouts.

But there are no perfect workouts. There’s the compound effect of consistency, hard work, and a well-rounded training plan.

If you’re not sure where to start – or don’t have time to do all the research – a custom training plan will help you know you’re doing the right workouts, at the right time.

Q&A in the Comments

Have a question about recovery runs or how fast you should run? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll reply to each one.

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