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The benefits of Easy Running

May 9th 2008 04:41
In the running world, when you train at an ‘Easy’ pace, you’re said to be doing ‘Base Training’ or ‘Endurance Training’. These terms are both helpful because they describe exactly what you get out of it. You’re building a base of aerobic fitness; in doing so, you’re building up your endurance.

Base / Endurance training is critical to all runners – novice and elite, alike. Most elite runners spend more time running ‘Easy’ than on any other kind of run. (Only when they have their base do they build on it with speed and sprint work to cut valuable seconds off their race times - particularly leading into races (known as peaking).)

To an average Joe like me, base / endurance training is even more important. And the results far more significant. Elite runners are already very aerobically fit. They can improve a bit, but the percentage improvement is quite small. I, on the other hand, am far from aerobically fit, so I have a lot of improvement in me.

Fortunately, this improvement happens very fast. Much faster than any improvement you’d see out of speed training (running really hard).

What’s more, when you run ‘Easy’, your heart rate is lower, so you burn more fat. At rest, your body gets nearly two-thirds of its energy from fat. As you start to move around, it starts to derive a higher proportion of its energy from carbohydrates. Once your heart rate exceeds around 80% of your maximum, you’re not burning any fat at all. (TIP: Obviously, when you run, you use far more energy than you do at rest, so even though a greater proportion of that energy is coming from carbohydrates, you still burn more fat than you do watching TV!)

Additionally, ‘Easy’ running reduces your chance of injury. When you first start running, your muscles, joints and bones have to adapt to their new workload. Muscles and joints adapt within a few weeks, but bones take a couple of months. If you push too hard during this time, you’re likely to end up with muscle strains, joint injuries or stress fractures.

Best of all, ‘Easy’ running really is easy. You’ll raise a sweat, but it doesn’t hurt like running fast or doing weights. Once again, I challenge you to try it. Work through the ‘Easy’ running steps I wrote about in my last post, and if you aren’t surprised by how slow and easy the ‘Easy’ pace is, come back here and post a comment.

And because you improve fast, because you can see that improvement in black and white (heart rate versus time for a given distance), because you lose more weight, and because it’s soooooooo easy, it becomes very addictive.

For overweight people, this is the most important point. You come to love the activity that’s causing your weight loss. So much so, in fact, that weight loss becomes secondary. You no longer run to lose weight; you lose weight to run!

By way of proof, in my next post I’ll give you a bit of an insight into my own personal improvements. I’m no world-beater, but I’m pretty darn happy with them!

‘til then, happy running!

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2 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Harry

May 10th 2008 00:19
I'm still getting my heart rate monitor working so I can try this. Do you use one that goes around your chest?

Comment by Glenn Murray

May 10th 2008 01:13

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