This is something that I never thought I would ever say, but here goes… tonight’s 5K run was easy.
I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I ran a whole 5K along Hove seafront and, by the end of it, could easily have run some more. But of course I didn’t.
The reason for this is that I have decided to do some base training to get used to running the 5K distance before I try to improve my speed. This means running at a slow comfortable pace a few times a week, rather than pushing myself to run faster or longer each time.
There’s a lot of science behind this type of training, most which I don’t really understand yet, but part of it is to do with increasing your aerobic capacity.
Aerobic capacity is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during any form of exercise. As a newer runner, you may not be able to run for a very long period of time before your heart rate increases and you become winded. As you progress or if you are an experienced runner this time is extended by your increased aerobic capacity.
Easy running enables your lungs and cardiovascular system to more efficiently deliver oxygen and for your heart to deliver more blood which by consequence means more oxygen can be carried.
If you are looking to run longer distances at a given pace, easy running specifically trains the aerobic systems that make this possible.
Basically, what this means is that you will eventually be able to run for longer without getting out of breath.
So, for tonight’s run, I made a point of trying to run at a reduced pace. Recently, my pace has been around 6:40 per km when I try to push myself, so I tried to keep it around 7:00. This wasn’t easy as I like trying to improve on my time for each run, so I had to resist the temptation of speeding up and trying to keep up with or overtake other runners. But somehow I managed it and I actually enjoyed it.
Completing a run without having to wrench out every last drop of energy for the last km, finishing the run without coughing and wheezing and gasping for breath, and walking home with a spring in my step rather than stumbling and dragging myself through the streets to my flat all felt kind of good.
I still feel that I’ve had a good workout, but I am also pleased that I won’t feel as sore tomorrow as I usually do. Or at least I’m hoping that I won’t.
What will be interesting though, is how I’ll feel on Saturday when I do my next Parkrun. Hopefully I’ll be feeling fit and ready to run and, who knows, maybe that in itself will help me improve my time from last week.
How often do you do ‘easy’ runs? What effect do they have on your overall performance? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.