If you are one of the lucky ones still able to run at all currently, you have permision to slow down. With a worldwide pandemic in the forefront and almost all races cancelled there is no reason to be smashing yourself in training and trying to reach your peak physical condition.
If you are train smart through this uncertain period you can really benefit from this enforced gap in the running calendar. This is a time to assess what you need from your long term training and focus your training around these priorities. The world’s elite distance runners aim to be in their peak shape for two or three times of the year at most. Now is certainly not the time.
If you had started the year with goal races in mind for the spring or autumn depending on your hemisphere you have probably been training towards this goal. While the goal has been taken away the fitness level you’ve attained hasn’t. Keeping and further developing your aerobic base should be the major priority for these runners.
Alternatively, you could have suffered a niggling injury during training. If you are in this category you should choose to take time to get your injury right before increasing your mileage. Maybe a break from running will be helpful for you.
Stopping running altogether because your race has been cancelled isn’t a great idea. When you do try to start again it will be take time to regain your fitness and the injury risk is increased. Additionally running is good for your mental health and with the situation going on at the moment. We can all use a boost to our mental health.
As the world slows down so should your running. There is very little need to focus on speed or getting yourself in peak fitness. Often with running we are pushed for time to be able to truly train the way that will benefit our running the most. Developing aerobic fitness takes time, now we have time on our side.
Developing aerobic fitness should be your priority and the best way to do this is slow down. Put the speed work and interval workouts away for the time being and run easy.
In “What is your Kipchoge easy pace?” we said that relative to his marathon pace Kipchoge’s easy pace was 27% slower than his marathon pace based on his documented training. His marathon has got a bit quicker since then, but we will use the same numbers.
These are the easy paces you should be aiming for on your easy runs.
Marathon Pace/Easy Pace
Kipchoge 2:55 min/km 4 min/km
2 hour 30 min marathon 3:33 min/km 4:30 min/km
3 hour marathon 4:16 min/km 5:25 min/km
3 hour 30 min marathon 4:59 min/km 6:19 min/km
4 hour marathon 5:41 min/km 7:13 min/km
4 hour 30 marathon 6:24 min/km 8:17 min/km
It’s no secret that most people run their easy runs too fast. It’s long been a talking point amongst runners and has only got worse since we use online applications to log and compare our run with our peers.
Now is the time to test Kipchoge’s easy run example and slow down. If the best marathoner of all time can commit himself to running his easy runs 27% slower then goal race pace we can too. By using this approach you’ll start to create a habit with your easy runs. Over time you’ll naturally hit this pace and build rhythm into your running that will give you great benefit over time.
Running your easy runs slower will mean when you do need to work hard you’ll be recovered and ready to run fast. Improve your aerobic fitness and you’ll be a more efficient runner. You’ll be doing the work to give your running the base fitness it needs to be ready to hit peak fitness when you know when your next race is.
Slowing down is a common problem for runners. It usually feels counter productive to slow down in order to get faster. A lot of the reason we run is races and the challenge they present. Without races it creates an opportunity to focus on a longer-term approach to running improvement. By slowing down and taking a different approach to your running you’ll thank yourself next race day, whenever that may be.
With the level of uncertainty in the world currently, keeping a consistent running schedule (if you can get outside to run) will give you a level of stability in your life. Keeping healthy habits like regular exercise will help you navigate through a troubling time.