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The Merits of Slowing down the easy days

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  • 08-03-2019 10:33pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 5,236 ✭✭✭


    Listening to Scullion yesterday talking about the Japanese runners who run sub 2.10 who do their easy runs at 8 min miles - got me thinking about most of us here, who do our easy runs at 8-9 min miles - some faster.

    I know there's a volume component to it - running 150+ miles per week - you need to do a lot of slow miles.

    For us hobbyists, running 40-90 miles per week - is there the same merit in running the easy days REALLY easy (think MP + 3mins in the JPN case)??


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,582 ✭✭✭Swashbuckler


    Well I've read that there's very little to be gained being on the fast end of your "easy" pace range. That being said I think as long as you are fresh for the key sessions during the week then that's the main thing.

    It's all relative too though. I'm training for shorter stuff so I can get away with my easy runs being a little quicker (that being said I don't even look at my watch on easy runs anymore). For someone in high volume marathon training it's a different thing entirely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    I think I posted something on your log about this a while ago, copied from Magness' old web site.

    Basically that the benefits you are getting from the run are the same whether you are running 8 or 9 minute miles, but the recovery is much faster if you are running slower so no point running faster.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,416 ✭✭✭Lazare


    Would be a lot of merit in it if doubles were a big feature of your week. Those Japanese lads are running up to 200 mpw with big doubles.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,236 ✭✭✭AuldManKing


    I think many on here understand that the physiological benefits of running 9-10 min miles are the same/similar as 8-9 min miles.

    To run MP +3mins would mean me (& Ray) running easy miles at 9.30-9.50 per mile.

    Knowing it and doing it are different things, we complain about form changing etc etc

    I'm interested to hear people's thoughts on running slower to run faster.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    I don't think I could manage 10 minute miles, but I have been running a fair number of 9 minute miles recently. In some ways it is easier to think about form at that pace. I've certainly been trying to lengthen my stride and relax my arms more. The differences are probably invisible to the naked eye :)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭Duanington


    Form is a concern for me, I don't check the watch at all on easy runs and often find myself in and around the 9 min\mile mark when I check later ( usually when FBOT is around :pac:)....any slower though and I think form suffers for me ( maybe coz I'm lanky). It's actually something I need to work on, holding form while running slow

    Running easy\recovery stuff too fast is a chronic condition in so many runners...it really is and no amound of boring lectures seems to work - in fact I know runners who run zero recovery\easy stuff because they just refuse to slow it down. The same people break down with injury time and time again

    Kipchoge apparently jogs around a good bit at 9 min pace too - I think there is a lower limit to how slow you could realistically run though, I don't think its as straightforward as 8 min miles for Scullion = 9.30 + for someone else and then10.30 for another bunch....form, body shape etc has to come in to it at some point.

    In general though, yes...we probably all run a little too fast at times!


  • Registered Users Posts: 946 ✭✭✭KSU


    Duanington wrote: »
    Form is a concern for me, I don't check the watch at all on easy runs and often find myself in and around the 9 min\mile mark when I check later ( usually when FBOT is around :pac:)....any slower though and I think form suffers for me ( maybe coz I'm lanky). It's actually something I need to work on, holding form while running slow

    Personally I feel this is what it is all about.

    Run too fast and you will find that form drops due to fatigue, either in that run or the next day or the next session. Generally at recreational level you should aim to have "pop in your legs" most of us don't need to worry about cumulative fatigue or other nuances we need to focus on building the engine and learning to run properly, nothing more.

    Run too slow and many will simply shuffle and barely lift there legs. They basically let there mechanics become so poor that even though they are running at "recovery pace" they aren't actually reducing effort as much as they think.

    The watch is the single biggest enemy of a runner. The aim of training should be running with the least amount of effort for the specific outcome desired. People usually see stretching pace goals as the goal to improve fitness rather than hitting the same pace with reduced effort as the sign of improvement.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,416 ✭✭✭Lazare


    KSU wrote: »
    People usually see stretching pace goals as the goal to improve fitness rather than hitting the same pace with reduced effort as the sign of improvement.


    I would have thought hitting a faster pace off the same effort is a better sign of improvement.

    Sure, stretching pace as a goal is the wrong way to go about it, but having it naturally happen is a good thing surely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 946 ✭✭✭KSU


    Lazare wrote: »
    I would have thought hitting a faster pace off the same effort is a better sign of improvement.

    Sure, stretching pace as a goal is the wrong way to go about it, but having it naturally happen is a good thing surely.

    That would be the general consensus alright but is pace the issue with many in racing? If I asked people to go out and run a flat out mile would it be significantly better than there 5k pace, 10k pace etc? If you do hit that faster pace is form compromised as a result which could make it unsustainable? If a persons running economy is efficient to begin with then that is no problem but if it could do with some work then sure that is where the improvement should come from i.e running race pace more controlled might see less energy expenditure and allow to either hold for longer or negative split a race.

    This is just one mans opinion of course many will disagree with this but I feel many people use the pace metric simply because it is easily quantifiable moreso than because it is optimum.

    Naturally occurring pace change definitely but this is something that comes off continuous blocks of training. Jumps in fitness take weeks and months to take affect, hitting pace for reps in a session doesn't do much to indicate fitness or race shape however if you hit the paces week on week it is a better indicator as it shows fitness relative to other variables (training load, sleep, nutrition, weather etc). Much like anyone can have a bad day at any stage likewise anyone can have a good day. Work meeting gets cancelled and you have a little less stress during the day, that howling wind that you woke to has died down to a calm evening, you have a better in lunch in work and shy away from MacDonalds or Subway because work colleagues are sick of it, or even you couldn't get out for a run the night before because your kids music lesson ran on and you got caught in traffic so legs are a little fresher. All of a sudden you have a little more pep in your step


  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    The purpose of running slow is to reduce the level of blood/lactate in your muscles after quality sessions to less than 1mmol/l.

    This cannot be achieved naturally, for example, through resting as opposed to running easily.

    So it’s really important to take your easy days easy, this is how you actually get faster/stronger, through the supercompensation process.

    If you run too fast on your easy days it has two implications.

    1.compromises your recovery so your body does not absorb the full benefits from your quality workouts, so fitness gains are not what they could be.

    2.Compromises the quality of your hard sessions, so fitness gains are not what they could be.

    I am not a believer in HR training. It’s a mediocre training tool at best and very limiting. But one good use of it is to stick it on during your easy runs and ensure it does not rise above a certain level, for me 120 bpm.

    This ensures we are truly going slow enough to recover from the previous session to facilitate the adaption process.

    I have met lots of athletes who say run 6min per mile for 5km say their easy pace is 7 minute per mile, those guys would definitely benefit from using their HRM on easy days.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 732 ✭✭✭Sandwell


    On this topic, I noticed in Killian Journet's recent training log that his description of easy effort was 'breathe through nose". I've tried it on a couple of easy/recovery runs since and it works a treat at keeping the HR down.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Yeah that would also work. The lower heart rate is a by-product of you actually running slow enough to enable you to breathe through your nose and mouth for the entire run.



  • Registered Users Posts: 343 ✭✭MrMacPhisto


    So you don't see the benefits of HR training, but advocate it for ER which for most probably represents 75-80% of training? The mediocre tool seems quite useful in this case for training, no?



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Yes. HR training is a mediocre tool. As mentioned in my prior post, I mentioned that it is useful for inexperienced or ill disciplined runners who actually have a difficult time running ‘easy’ and so it has some merits.

    But experienced runners should be disciplined and know how to run easy, hard, and every pace in between. It’s a feeling and not a number on a watch.

    You will find HR training becomes very limiting after a while. No, I cannot run a 16.59 5km because according to my HR training history I can only maintain a average HR of 185 bpm for a 5km race and that equates to 3.25 per km pace. Damn, I guess I can only run a 17.05 5km…

    Also, your heart rate max and min varies throughout the day and is impacted by lots of external variables so it is indeed a very mediocre method of training and tracking fitness gains. Unless you plan on doing your runs at the same time each day, feeling the same way internally and under identical external conditions…good luck with that.



  • Registered Users Posts: 343 ✭✭MrMacPhisto


    I’m not arguing for or against. I’m just pointing out a bit of a contradiction in your argument. There was also no mention of indisciplined or inexperienced runner in the comment. And 120 seems quite the arbitrary number given that there are so many variables as you pointed out.

    Personally, I dont focus on HR. I wear a HR monitor for most of my training but would only glance at it the odd time to make sure I was in the ballpark or range of where I want to be depending on the run. As you said, there are many variables so the range is variable but a good tool to make sure you are not over-exerting 👍



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Cool👍

    If you look closely there were no contradictions.

    Clearly, The 120bpm comment was for illustrative purposes, to better make a point.

    I said it was a mediocre training tool, not terrible or the worst, and stated one of its key merits is that it can be used to help recovery, which is probably the most overlooked component of training by athletes.

    In fact, the last line of your most recent post aligns with one of the points I was making in my original post. At least we can agree on something :)



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,182 ✭✭✭demfad


    My tuppence is that you make sure the purpose of the run is correct and you make sure you fulfil that purpose during a run.

    So if the purpose of the run is recovery then you make sure the run fulfills that purpose. If you err on the easy side you will quickly find the spot. If (like me) you tended to err on the fast side, it can take decades.

    If you knock a session out of the park. JOG for the prescribed time etc the next day. Nothing to gain, plenty to lose otherwise. In time these jogs will get faster.

    The run the day after the session is the key one. Run easy/recover that one and the other runs fall into place--better recovery after sessions and fresher for sessions.

    As you implied Japanese running a 100min recovery run during a 150 mile week is different to us here running easy for an hour.

    If the same Japanese switched down to a 50 mile week the recovery runs might be sub 6.

    Lastly, Magness point about physiology no doubt is true. Plenty of mechanical issues though for running too slow specially for an old foggie like you. I would just run the day after a session at true recovery effort. Next days easy run will be naturally faster. And the average pace will increase but use recovery as the driver. Only do a really really stupid slow jog for a short shakout to help banjacksed legs.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    I’m glad you agree with the main points included in my original post.

    We have the guts of a good discussion going. Okay so we know the scientific reason why we run slow on our recovery days, to lower the lactate levels in our blood to baseline levels after a difficult session.

    We all agree on the perils of running too fast on recovery or easy days. If we run too fast on these days we would be training in ‘No Mans Land’, pace is too slow to impact race specific fitness but fast enough that it compromises recovery and hinders the adaption process.

    Olay let’s discuss about the other components of training, if you’d like.

    I’ve come across many athletes in my time. I’m generalising here but they tend to fit into two categories. One type is an athlete who loves speed work and dislikes any endurance based workouts. This guy will often argue he can beat guys over a 5km who run double his mileage, warning against the utility of running ‘junk mileage’.

    The other is the complete opposite, loves endurance type workouts. Hates speed and will often miss club sessions when speed work is prescribed as they do not wish to injure their ego before a race.

    Obviously race distance will dictate what type of training takes precedence but, in general,which athlete has the right idea regarding training ?



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,446 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    Is it really a scientific discussion though? Are you sure that there are elevated lactate levels in your blood the day after a session?

    The reason for running slow recovery is a bit more complicated than that. But the main thing is that you do it!

    I'm also intrigued by your HR comments - the contradiction is too great to ignore (good for recovery runs only). Am I missing something? You mention 5k racing, and obviously no one would race by HR, but you can't do VO2Max sessions by HR either, it's not viable.

    So HR for appropriate training - brilliant for easy to LT type workouts, less useful beyond that, as any good HR training manual will tell you.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    To answer your questions:

    Yes, I am sure there would be elevated lactate levels in your blood after a tough training session (for a mid to long distance athlete) and, yes, the main purpose of a recovery run for an experienced runner is to lower those levels to baseline and to facilitate adaption.

    No, you are not missing anything at all. HR training really is not a particularly useful method of training but, yeah, has utility for inexperienced/Iill disciplined runners to use on recovery runs for the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

    You mention no one would race by HR, I’ve encountered many, many athletes that have/do race by HR. Some of them are half-decent runners too, sub 17min 5km types, so not just novices. Naturally enough if they train by HR they’ll use this as a guide when racing.

    You mention you can’t do V02 workouts by HR, I know many who do the standard 1km/3 min sessions V02 max workouts that use HR. HR usually guides their recovery time.

    Also disagree that HR is brilliant for LT threshold workouts for reasons you’ll find in my earlier posts. An individuals HR is variable based on internal and external factors. Better for an experienced runner to go off of feel.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,446 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    Thanks for addressing all those questions, there probably were too many packed in there.

    Well, I agree that those runners who do speed workouts and even race by HR are misguided. Let's leave it at that, and leave them to it. I wouldn't say they are in any kind of majority.

    Re lactate - it's gone within an hour or two after the workout. Next-day recovery runs are important, but they are not about removing lactate - that was the 'science' question.

    You are entitled to your opinion re training by HR. I don't agree at all. The variablility of an individual's HR is the whole point - if internal and external factors are affecting your HR, you can get the the same training effort (even if it's slower than usual) by monitoring your HR, which is an objective measure of your actual effort levels, much more so than pace.

    You seem convinced that HR training is not useful for you - and from what you are saying, I agree.

    I also agree that 'feel' is good - but only if you have trained yourself to correlate feel to actual effort levels accurately. We all know runners who 'feel' great on 'easy' runs that are closer to their MP, for example. Loads of them. So you have to learn how to run well by feel, and HR training is probably one of the better ways to get there.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Lactate levels can be as high as 1.6 to 2 mmol/l the day following hard sessions, this I know for certain.

    After an appropriate recovery run this can be lowered to less than 1mmol/l.

    Regarding HR how many athletes:

    1. Have knowledge of what their max HR is on any given day and
    2. are disciplined to revise their HR training zones and to stay disciplined adhering to them when conditions are sub optimal

    Yes, HR is an objective measure but it’s variable as discussed meaning it’s impossible to gauge fitness gains with accuracy.

    Post edited by Taxes on


  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Don’t take my word for it. From Renato Canova:

    Regeneration, as the name says, it means an activity that can help your body in quickly recovering the effects of fatigue.

    For ex., after a session of SPECIFIC MARATHON ENDURANCE (like 4 x 5000m in 15' for an athlete able running 2:08, with 1000m recovery run in 3'20"), the level of lactate can be about 6 mmol.

    The day after, in the early morning, of sure is not lower than 1.5 / 1.8 mmol.

    If you go running for 1 hr very slow (is not important if is 6 or 7 min per mile), when you arrive your level of lactate decreased under 1 mmol (may be also 0.6), a value not available naturally.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,446 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    Post the link, not a paste dump, if you don't mind. I'd prefer to see the original, and evaluate the source. Those quotes (if that's what they are, don't seem to do Canova justice). And if it's just a link to a letsrun post, it doesn't count. 😉

    Edit: it turns out is IS actually Canova on letsrun, but out of context it's hard to evaluate.

    Yes, HR is an objective measure but it’s variable as discussed meaning it’s impossible to gauge fitness gains with accuracy.

    What in your opinion is the best way to measure fitness gains (apart from race results, which are imperfect also because all courses are different)



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Clearly, he’s talking about regeneration runs and the purpose of running ‘easy’, ie to lower elevated lactate levels.It seems pretty clear to me. In what way is it out of context?

    You state that lactate was cleared within a couple hours of a hard session. That is incorrect. You also made the declaration without pasting a link but asked me to post one substantiating Canovas comments 🤣.

    Best way to measure fitness gains is at, a given effort, an extension of either speed or volume of the activity.

    Last Spring, I done a 6km tempo at 3.38 per km. At the end of the summer I ran a 6km tempo at 3.16 per km at the same effort. This is where the art of training comes in. How did I make those gains so quick? (HINT it was not because of training history).

    If I followed a HR training program, or a cookie cutter V02 max training schedule it would have taken me at afew years to make that sort of improvement, or I may have not reached those levels at all.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,446 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    Wouldn't argue at all that that's what he seems to be talking about. I don't think I mentioned context - would just have appreciated you acknowledging the source and saving us the search. I've come across Canova's letsrun interviews before, as have many of us here with an interest in this stuff.

    Coaching is an art as well as a science (another regular discussion point around here). Coaches aren't always as up with the science as they are with the art and vice versa.

    There is plenty of research into lactate clearance. I didn't think it necessary to be pedantic about it earlier, but here's one such article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769631/

    There are plenty more.

    Canova obviously knew what he is doing but perhaps in this case it's more art than science? Something to think about. As a coach he would not be alone.

    Re your own training improvements - who knows, but I assume because of the thread you resurrected it has something to do with running good recovery, and I am completely on that page.

    You seem sure of yourself! Good luck to you, confidence is half the battle.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    I hope I didn’t offend you with my comments. I like shooting the breeze about training with fellow athletes.

    My confidence stems from making every mistake in the book in the past with my own training and being well read in the subject.

    In fairness, it was you that mentioned the science and the science is clear that the day following a hard training session, lactate is not totally cleared. There will always be elevated levels of residual lactate in the blood following a hard session. We can literally feel this the day following a session.

    Think about my motivation for debating with you, it’s not to put you down. A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from another persons mistakes.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,446 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    Yep, shooting the breeze is why we are all here.

    No, you mentioned the science first. I hate to be pedantic but...

    We have the guts of a good discussion going. Okay so we know the scientific reason why we run slow on our recovery days, to lower the lactate levels in our blood to baseline levels after a difficult session.

    My argument is that the science of that SPECIFIC statement is less clear than you say. A cooldown run after the session is probably more relevant, in my opinion, based on reading the science and also interpreting my own body. My soreness the day after a session is probably DOMS, not lactate.

    A smart/wise person learns. Period. It doesn't have to be from anyone's mistakes.



  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    If you are going to be pedantic at least be correct lol.

    Yep, I gave the valid scientific reason why we do a recovery run. You said the science was wrong and that lactate is cleared after a couple of hours of doing the hard session, which is incorrect.A cool down run after a session is most definitely not enough to clear lactate totally after a hard session, most people’s cooldown would not extend beyond 6km.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭Taxes


    Man, this thread really kicked off.

    My original point was on easy running and how important it is to run easy on recovery days as this will facilitate the adaption process.

    I mentioned how HR is a mediocre training tool, but a good use of it, is to use it on recovery days to ensure you are truly running ‘easy’. I wish I never said this as some people have taken it the wrong way.

    Meanwhile, some comments from Murph_D who critiqued my posts:

    Those quotes (if that's what they are, don't seem to do Canova justice)

    it turns out is IS actually Canova on letsrun, but out of context it's hard to evaluate.

    I don't think I mentioned context - would just have appreciated you acknowledging the source and saving us the search

    Doing V02 max workouts with HR is not viable. (Debunked )

    No one races by HR. (Debunked)

    Lactate is gone within a couple hours of training. (Debunked)

    I'm also intrigued by your HR comments - the contradiction is too great to ignore (good for recovery runs only).

    We all know runners who 'feel' great on 'easy' runs that are closer to their MP, for example. Loads of them. So you have to learn how to run well by feel, and HR training is probably one of the better ways to get there. (Literally the point made in my earlier posts)

    A smart/wise person learns. Period. It doesn't have to be from anyone's mistakes. (The man's not learning)

    Meanwhile, I stand by the validity of everything contained in my posts. Best of luck with the training everyone.



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