I’m starting to learn more and more about all the terrible things I’m doing while running these days. My boyfriend was a collegiate runner and has made fun of me for years for running what he deems “junk miles”. I used to scoff and him and think, “I’m in totally great running shape! I run 4 quick miles every other day and I’m just getting faster!”. Except I was wrong. I know, I know I’m admitting I’m wrong and that’s a very hard thing to do but it’s also a very true thing!
Junk Miles: miles run at the same pace and the same distance every time you go out for a run.
Easy Miles: miles run at a comfortable, conversational pace.
If I keep running the same four miles every other day at the same pace for the rest of my life, where is that going to get me? Three-quarters past nowhere. I knew I needed to change things up and started reading some more and more info on the importance of easy runs, which were a total foreign concept to me.
So why are easy runs important?
Even elite runners schedule in easy runs as part of their training. Some of the fastest 5k runners with times of 14:30 and 15:12 pace their easy runs at 8:30 per mile. Um. Wow. I never would have expected that in a million years. So why does this work?
On easy days, you’re activating your slow-twitch muscle fibers. You are training the mitochondria and capillaries within them to better use oxygen and increase blood flow. The easy runs are the building blocks for the more intense runs. If you continually run at the same pace every time you go out there, you’re never going to get any better and will just coast. To see improvement in speed and fitness, you need to challenge yourself even if that challenging thing is going slower than you ever anticipated.
Need help deciding which pace is right for you? Look no further than the calculator here: https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/
One of my new year’s resolutions this year is to run smarter. I’m going to focus on pacing, form, and varying my workout types and really trying to get out and run in more unique places. It’s time for a change & I’m pretty darn excited.