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The 5 Reasons Running Easy is Hard

We read those articles over and over. The ones that tell us why it is important to run easy. I know we all read those posts, and think it clicks. We think to ourselves, “Yes, that makes total sense! From NOW on, I am going to do that, every time I am not doing a hard workout”. So why then do we come across the same article, written in a different way 3 months later, and think the same thing again?

Running hard puts us in pain, it puts us in a state of discomfort where our mind is screaming at us to stop. You would think that alone that would be enough to slow us down, and make us want to run at a pace that is enjoyable, and does not provoke those thoughts.

5 Reasons Running Easy is hard

Yet over and over, on our recovery days we end up running too fast. It all comes down to confidence. When it is lacking, that is when we look for reassurance within our recovery days. When we are feeling strong, and believe we are in better shape than ever before, we do not feel the need for proving anything on recovery days.

There are a number of ways we let ourselves get out of control, and risk the one word no runner wants to hear; injured. These are the ones I sometimes struggle with:


We are staring at that piece of technology on our wrists that tells us what speed our culture has deemed an acceptable running pace. We have become so reliant on them, and I think it takes away from the beauty of running and its simplicity.

I hate to admit it, but I definitely fall into the trap of looking at it too often, seeing the 8:?? number in my pace is usually followed by a much lower 7:?? mile. As much as I try to tell myself not to do it, I struggle not to. However, I find that when I do leave my garmin at home, or when I cover it up with my sleeve, I feel so much better after the run, as I just ran by what felt good, rather than what I feel like I should be doing.

I talked about this on my blog recently, and encouraged runners to give GPS-watch-less running a try….I am not saying do not wear it, just do not look at it till after ?

The 5 Reasons Running Easy is Hard

Ego showdown

We end up competing with ourselves if we are running a familiar course that we have timed in the past. Even worse is when we compete against whoever we are running with. We all know a two-stepper…..and if you don’t….sorry, its you! For some reason, even when running with friends, our egos often get tangled up in a chest puffing match, and the pace quickens as the run goes on. Before you know it, the stubborn runner in you comes out, and you refuse to back down until you are both sprinting. Ironically, the more courageous one of the two of you, is usually the one who says something, or eventually backs off.

Of course this is always followed by a pointing match, “you started it”! Next time you sense this coming on, try to be the bigger person, and step back, chances are, they will be glad you did!

The 5 Reasons Running Easy is Hard

Anger management

We are beating ourselves up about a previous race/workout, and want to try to prove that it was just a fluke or a bad day. I don’t know what we are trying to do, as there is only one place that really matters, and that is out on the race course.

I know I am guilty of trying to reassure myself that I am in good shape. This is often the recovery run that pushes you over the edge…..and you either end up injured, or overtrained.

The 5 Reasons Running Easy is Hard3

Our logical brains

The faster you run every day, the faster you will be….right? Sounds like it should make sense, but unfortunately that could not be more wrong. The year in college where I had injury after injury, was the year where I tried to run at 7:10 pace or better every run…..in addition to the 2 workouts and long run I was doing each week. At the end of the day, easy runs do not prove anything.

Think about it this way; if you are going to run a 5k, you cannot just run a 5k every day as hard as you can, and expect each day you will get faster and race well. Yes, maybe initially, but that isn’t how we train for races. In the same way we run intervals within our workouts, or change our speed from the warm up to workout and recoveries, we need to make sure we do run easy in between hard days.

The 5 Reasons Running Easy is Hard

Not leaving enough time

This is the one my husband Steve gets most mad about. I sometimes do not leave enough time between my run and the next task I have to do/place I have to be. I therefore end up rushing to make sure I get it all in.

This also relates to another bad one, getting it over with; on those days we really feel like crap, we want to just get home as quickly as possible, and rather than embracing the soreness/tiredness, we put our head down and push. This is another one where you are asking for trouble.

When it comes down to it, there is no right way to do workouts. As long as you are getting some hard training in, you will be okay. There are so many different opinions as to what is best, BUT all coaches agree that recovery days are incredibly important.

It takes more strength and courage to run easy than it does to run hard; anyone can run hard…..just look at new runners, they run every run hard, and end up paying the price, but you have to be confident enough in yourself to be able to back off the pedal and run easy.

Running easy on your recovery days will make a huge difference in your running. Don’t believe me? Studies have found that runners who do 80% easy running, run 23% faster than those who run 65% easy!

If running means a lot to you, and being healthy means anything to you, you should keep reminding yourself, and give them as much attention as the hard workouts, as they are what make all the difference. Even if that means telling yourself (our loud) to slow down during your run. I do that sometimes!

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be slightly less fit, but know I am healthy.

This article was originally posted on tinamuir.com

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