Embracing Easy Runs

Brooks Shoe Finder

Introducing the best-kept secret to running success: easy runs.

Great Run is proud to partner with Runna – your personalised running coach app. As the official training partner of the AJ Bell Great Run Series, Runna is supporting our runners with comprehensive, expert-approved training content. No matter your experience or ability level, Runna’s tips and hints can help you unlock your full potential and be your greatest on race day.

For most running newbies, running is simple: you lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. And the key to improving your running is also easy: you simply go faster.

It’s logical, isn’t it? Whether you’re attempting a 5K or a half-marathon, improving means a quicker time. And to get a quicker time – hold on while we state the obvious here – you need to be running faster. Right?


Now we know this sounds counterintuitive, but easy miles – those miles that feel steady and comfortable-ish rather than those where you’re pushing yourself – form the backbone of most training schedules.

As a beginner-slash-casual runner, it’s natural to assume that these leisurely outings are somehow less worthy than runs where you’re pounding the pavements at maximum effort. But the truth is easy runs – or perhaps let’s call them sustainable runs – hold the key to unlocking long-term running success and keeping burnout at bay.

So, let’s discover why easy runs are so important, why they work, how they boost performance, and strategies to help you embrace the slow lane.

Understanding Easy Miles

Easy miles are basically all the other miles – the miles that aren’t tempos or intervals or long runs. Open your run app or your training log and you’ll see that easy runs make up a significant percentage of your total mileage.

Yet most people don’t bother to record them – beyond a brief note like ‘Morning run’ or ‘Run from work’. But slow, easy runs – and the data they carry – are powerful. Understand them and discover the secret to making fundamental adaptations.

The Secret of Easy Runs:

In a world where everyone posts their PBs and workout intensity all over their socials, it’s easy to dismiss a slow run as ‘just’ an easy one. But these relaxed outings are where the magic really happens.

Easy runs offer your body a chance to recover. And it might not feel like it, but they also build aerobic endurance, and strengthen the foundation on which your harder efforts thrive. Slow,

easy outings enhance your cardiovascular system, encourage efficient oxygen use, and train your body to burn fat more efficiently. Sound impressive? That’s because they are.

So, the next time you’re taking it easy, know that you’re not just cruising; you’re actually starting up the engine that powers your running dreams.

Slow, easy runs mainly work your slow-twitch muscle fibres, which have a much higher density of mitochondria, high levels of aerobic enzymes, and greater capillary density than fast-twitch fibres. So instead of feeling guilty or embarrassed by your easy runs, embrace them: by going steady, you’re increasing your mitochondria, capillaries, and blood flow to your muscles, meaning they’re using oxygen more effectively.

It’s time to talk pace

Hermes God of Speed might be whispering in your ear and encouraging you to crank things up a gear, but for easy days it’s OK to dial it back. Some people call it your ‘talking pace’ – personally, we prefer the term ‘sexy pace’ – but it’s entirely up to you.

How to know you’ve hit it? Well, if you can run and talk for a few minutes, you’ve hit the sweet spot. It might feel a little, well, wrong at first, but trust in the process.

Say it louder for the people at the back: taking things steady allows your muscles to recover, reduces injury risk, and sets the stage for future successful workouts. Think of it as laying the bricks for a running habit that’s built to last: steady, intentional, and sustainable.


Running Fast on Slow Pace Days

Playlist firing you up? All worked up with nowhere to go? Hey, we get it – there are days where you just seem to have more energy than others – and on those days, you’re ready to hit the ground running – literally.

When you’ve got a slow day scheduled but your body’s talking a different language, take a moment. If you’ve set yourself a slow run, there’s a good reason for it – so try to take a mindful pause, check in with yourself, and slow your pace. Your future running self will thank you later!

Strategies to Stay in the Slow Lane:

Making sure your slower pace sticks during easy runs can demand some mental gymnastics. Need some simple strategies to keep you on track? We’ve got you covered.

1. Embrace the 10-20% rule: if you simply can’t stop yourself from speeding up, limit your pace increase. Vow to go no faster than 10-20% of your easy pace.

2. Recruit a running buddy: Find someone who matches your easy pace. The camaraderie of running with a buddy will help you settle into a steady rhythm.

3. Employ the “Talk Test”: Are you speaking comfortably? Then you’re nailing the pace.

Stick To Our ‘No Faster Than Pace’

One of the Runna app’s most-loved features is the “No faster than” pace, which is there to help you stick to your personalised easy runs. Exceed it and it will – gently – let you know. It’s a way of encouraging you to ease up on the throttle and run at a pace designed to maximise the benefits of your training plan.

That’s how much value their world-class and Olympian coaches place on that all-important easy pace. And if they rate it, so can you.

The Joy of Sustainable Progress

As runners, we’re often chasing that unbeatable finish line feeling. There’s something magical about cheering crowds, blasting tunes, and your watch showing a new personal best.

But easy runs have their own special kind of triumph. As the foundation of your running pyramid, they support your speedwork, long runs, and big events. So, stock up on these little wins and enjoy the sense of sustainable progress that comes with them. And, as time goes on, soak up the feeling of being stronger, more energised, and in tune with your body.

Slow runs might not come with the blaring horns and confetti of a lightning finish, but they support a lifelong love of running and give us the chance to run for a lifetime. What greater gift could you ask for?

Pace Yourself to Triumph

So, without further ado, let’s raise an electrolyte drink to the sky and toast the underestimated champions of the running world: your easy runs. More than just a break from the grind, they represent running recovery, enhanced performance, and longevity – hear hear!

Above everything else, easy runs are your chance to learn. They force you to pay attention to your body, your niggles and aches, and the little details that could turn your run from good to great. Start showing your easy runs some love – you might be surprised at the difference in your training and performance.

Find out more about easy running and the Runna app at runna.com. Already training for an AJ Bell Great Run Series event? You can access your FREE two week Runna trial via the Great Run Rewards page.

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