What is an Easy Run?

INCLUDES:

  • What exactly IS an easy run?
  • How to figure out which pace your easy runs should be
  • WHY easy runs are important to training

Easy runs are both relaxed and controlled. They are an essential part of your training and should actually make up the bulk of your mileage! An easy run will look different from one runner to the next & will also. look different from day to day. Understanding what an easy run means for YOU is an individualized process for each runner – because we are all so different, and it means learning about yourself & your needs.


EFFORT

Effort refers to how a run FEELS – whether it feels harder or easier. You can measure effort in many ways: breathing patterns, breathlessness, whether you’re able to carry on conversation, how your body feels, and how sustainable your pace is.

The RPE scale (rate of perceived exertion scale – pictured above) is a simple tool made to help you figure out how each run feels effort-wise.

KEY:

  • 10 RPE (TOTAL SPRINT): A pace that can only be held for about 30 seconds
  • 1 RPE (GENTLE WALK): An easy walk in the park

Easy runs should be done at a 1-3 effort level. You should be able to sustain this pace WHILE holding a conversation without an issue.


HEART RATE

Heart rate is another helpful tool when trying to figure out your easy run pace. Your easy runs should be done at approximately 60% – 75% of your maximum heart rate.

You can calculate your max heart rate using a number of strategies and formulas. There are a few popular formulas used to calculate max heart rate – but it’s important to remember that these formulas do have room for error.

  • 220 – AGE = MAX HEART RATE
  • 207 – (.7 x AGE) = MAX HEART RATE

Once you know your max heart rate, you can figure out what 60% of your max heart rate would be & what 75% of your max heart rate would be. Your easy pace should be somewhere within that range, depending upon the day.

We’re going to find the easy heart rate range for a 28 year old runner….

STEP 1: Calculate Max HR

For the first formula (220 – age = max heart rate) we would get 192 max heart rate. For the second formula (207 – .7 x AGE = max heart rate) we would get 187.4 max heart rate. So let’s average them for about a 190 max heart rate.

STEP 2: Calculate Easy Run HR

Now we’re going to take 190 and figure out our easy heart rate zone. 60% of 190 would be 114. 75% of 190 would be 143.


PACE

There isn’t a specific pace that your easy runs should be done at – rather, there is a range of paces that will fall between that heart rate zone & effort zone on any given day. These two should be used in combination to determine what your easy pace should be each day. Listening to your BODY can be key in figuring out the best easy pace – but it can take practice.

Your easy pace might be impacted by factors including:

  • HOW YOU FEEL: Tired stressed, excited overwhelmed, distracted, etc.
  • TRAINING LOAD: When was your last race? Your last speed workout? Your last strength session? How hard have your runs been lately?
  • YOUR BODY: Some of us are fast-twitch runners and some of us are slow-twitch runners, meaning we recruit different muscle fibers when running. This can cause our easy run pace to be faster or slower.
  • OTHER FACTORS: Terrain, weather, altitude, how you fueled, etc.

These should all be taken into consideration when figuring out what pace feels easy and what pace lands you within your easy heart rate zone on a given day (or somewhat close to it).

If you need help with keeping your easy runs easy, check out our 1:1 coaching page to work with one of our 1:1 coaches!

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach


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