Don’t get me wrong: I love the sweat-drenched sense of accomplishment from a good tempo run, the endorphin-spiked strong feeling following a speed workout. I relish those workouts when I’m training for a race.
But when there’s no race looming immediately on the calendar, or even when I’m deep into the peak weeks of training, I love those easy paced runs. I can happily run only a couple races a year, to get my fix on the reward of long distances and PRs, because easy runs make me so happy in the interim.
You know those runs: where the mind wanders as much as the feet, where you don’t care about your pace because (1) who really cares about their easy run pace? and (2) you’re just enjoying the run so much.
The run may be 3 miles or it may be 13, but easy runs are the bread and butter of a sound training plan for good reason: in addition to their physiological benefits (you need to run slow in order to run fast), easy runs nourish the mind and soul of the runner.
Those runs where you feel like you could go for miles, with the open road or trail ahead of you, beckoning you onwards to explore.
Those runs that remind you why you started running in the first place. Those miles where you release yourself from the self-imposed pressure of goal times and find joy in your miles.
I happy clock away numerous easy miles between training cycles, with my heart, mind, and feet content to settle in at a pace a full one to two minutes per mile slower than I ran my most recent half marathon. In a society that glorifies the busy, there’s something that feels so good about slowing down, being present in the moment, and not rushing from one thing to the next.
On my easy hill run on Monday, I climbed up a hill and caught a view of the Issaquah Alps in the not so far distance, which in the morning light took my breath away for a moment. I then descended down the hill, my pace naturally quickening thanks to the marvels of physics, and saw this words in bold white font a few feet in front of me: “slow down.”
Of course, I live in East Seattle, where I worry about cyclists more than cars hitting me while I run. Cyclists are everywhere in Seattle, and this sidewalk memo was for them as the hill steeply descended and intersected with a crossroad. But these two words reminded me about the joy of the easy run, about all the benefits that come from slowing down.
You don’t need me to tell you again about the physiological benefits of running at an easy pace; but we all need that reminder, to slow down, take in the scenery, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the run.
Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday!
Easy runs: love them or loathe them?
What have you seen on your runs recently?