running

Why is running easy so hard to master? Week 1’s ultra training is done

Just like that week 1 of my training plan is done! It’s flown by and what it’s shown me is that I definitely need structure and a plan to get me running.

I’ve been working hard on training easy, three of my runs this week on my plan were easy runs. But why is the easy run one of the hardest to master? Like lots of people I head out and just run, without thinking about what I’m doing. It’s not a very effective way of training and if I don’t nail the easy run I know I’ll struggle to improve so I’m working really hard on slowing down and running easy for most of my runs. I don’t know about you but I find the easy runs the hardest as, at the moment, they don’t come naturally to me.

I’m struggling with how best to run easy. Do you do it based on your heart rate or perception of effort? I’ve been basing it on heart rate and in doing so I’ve slowed down and I’m having to walk loads as my heart rate (which sits super low when I’m resting) gets high quite quickly and stays there if I’m not mindful of my breathing and pace. Walking during the race may not be a bad thing as the South CANUM is 40 fairly flat miles but I want to get better at running and everything seems to point to running easy for a good portion of the training.

I wanted to know what others do so I posted on Twitter and, as always, the wonderful running community came back with loads of answers. It seems I’m not alone with my heart rate sitting high, which was reassuring. Also the general consensus seemed to be that if you can chat then you’re running easy.

The other suggestions were that my Garmin is 1) a wrist watch so therefore not that accurate (something that I’m definitely on board with based on previous experience) and 2) is set to the standard settings for heart rate zones, which might explain why I’m sitting in zone 5 for a lot of my runs. When I do my next speed session, before I cool down, I’m going to take my heart rate and then calculate my heart rate zones to see how far off they are. Even a slight change will make a difference to the zone’s that I’m in as I’m right on the border line.

All things to think about and work on. As I run a lot of my easy runs on my own I might need to look at my play list to help me slow down as well.

I went out this morning for a 10 mile run, whilst it was very hilly and we had to walk sections, as we were doing a chatty run my heart rate generally stayed low. It wasn’t something I was conscious that I was doing either so there’s definitely something about the chatty run that means that my heart rate will stay low.

The other thing I’ve started working on again is my strength training, which was a shock to the system. It shouldn’t have been…if I’d actually kept it up from last time…but I didn’t. I know I need to learn to love strength training but (and this might be a bit controversial) I find it dull. I’m much happier getting on with it and having to rest between sets is the bit that gets me. I think that’s why running suits me.

Now to start week 2 of my training.

2 thoughts on “Why is running easy so hard to master? Week 1’s ultra training is done

  1. I agree with the slow and easy runs being the hardest – I got injured this week a year ago and when I looked back at the training leading up to the injury I was hard pressed to find any runs that were truly ‘easy’. I go off feel rather than heart rate personally but keep an eye on heart rate. Chat pace is the best method really, but often end up running faster than I want to when I go with my friends! Setting the intention to run easy before a slower run may be easier. Taking the phone and stopping to take some photos also helps. Good luck with the training and enjoy the process!

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    1. Thanks Mark. I’m doing what you were doing which is going off feel but keeping an eye on my heart rate too. I’ve picked different music to listen to as well to help slow down. I’m the same with my friends in terms of pace, I loose track if I’m not keeping an eye

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