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 Easy / Long Pace Runs Question
OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:28 pm 

In my training over the past few years I've generally relied on the VDOT tables from Daniels' Running Formula to set my training paces for me, frequently using them as pacing guidance to use within Pfitzinger's training plans when I've been training for a marathon. But I have to admit that I've almost always cheated on my Easy and Long run pace, tending to run them faster than my appropriate VDOT value called for. I guess I've always believed that I could accelerate my improvement by getting in more mileage at a faster pace...that by becoming accumstomed to running Easy runs at a faster pace I'd become faster come race day. I think also somehow it was almost embarassing to run my Easy and Long runs too slowly. What if somebody drove past and saw me running at a 9:15 pace! What would they think! ;-}

I've been giving it some thought, though, and I wonder if I haven't been sabotaging (sp?) my training all this time by running those easy runs too hard? I was always appalled by how slowly I had to run to keep my heart rate in the Easy zone, and figured that I must just not have a good fix on my maximum heart rate. But maybe I was just overworking myself and then not having the required energy to really hit my tempo and track workouts they way I needed to in order to improve. Daniels would probably say that I'd just been running junk miles...too slow to count as tempo runs or even marathon pace runs, but too fast to really allow recovery. And Bricks made a comment here a couple of weeks ago, or maybe it was in his famous Runners World interview!, about how he finally learned how to train intelligently and that helped ultimately lead him to his sub 3:10 marathon. And I'm wondering if perhaps, at least in part, he meant that he stopped running the Easy miles too fast.

So, how about the rest of you...especially those who use Daniels' VDOT tables as guidance in training? Do you run your Easy and Long mileage as slowly as you're supposed to, or do you cheat like I always have?


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:51 pm 

I'm in the same boat as you: all my easy/long runs are faster than recommended. The recommended pace just feels so... S... L... O... W... The only change I've made recently is to ignore my watch during recovery runs, and try to take them extra slowly. I still end up faster than recommended, but at least it's closer to the prescribed pace. Another idea is to run with someone who's slower than you, so you'll be forced to keep a conservative pace. I rarely get a chance to run with anyone, though.

I'm sure Bricks is right, and we are screwing ourselves by taking easy workouts too hard and then being overly tired for the hard workouts. We need more discipline!


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:36 pm 

I'm guilty too...until recently. My wife used to laugh at me because when she'd ask how my "easy" run went I would always say (and she would mouth along) "I think I ran it too fast." So over the last year or more I've really made a concerted effort to run my easy runs more slowly.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:05 pm 

Do you feel that slowing down the easy runs has made a noticeable difference for you? Have your hard workouts gone better than before?

For my 16 mile long run today, I initially made a conscious effort to keep it slow. Normally I average around a 8:00 to 8:20 pace on these long runs. Today I began 9:03, 8:38, 8:21, 8:07, 8:27. I finished the run with much faster than average splits of 7:49, 7:46, 7:31, 7:20, 7:00. An improvement? I'm not sure.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:53 am 

Rickshaw wrote:
Do you feel that slowing down the easy runs has made a noticeable difference for you? Have your hard workouts gone better than before?


Yes, the slower runs have definitely made a positive difference in recoverying and being ready for a harder workout the next day.

Richshaw, it looks like you're still cheating yourself. If you intended to do a 16 mile easy run at a slow pace then it needs to stay slow throughout the run. Your 16 mile run was more of a progressive run than an easy run.

I've also found that If I do my warmup (1-2 miles) extra slow prior to kicking into my Tempo Run then I'm able to sustain my Tempo Run with a more consistent pace and with a more even perceived level of effort (last mile doesn't feel too much more difficult than the first).


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:11 am 

That's a good point. In fact, I probably do all of my long runs as progressive runs to some extent. I always try to push the pace hard in the last 3-5 miles if I have the energy for it. It seems I read somewhere that this was good training for dealing with "the wall" late in a marathon. I should try a few long runs at a more consistent pace, and see how it goes.

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:37 am 

Progressive runs are definitely a good training technique. I tend to do a lot of my shorter runs (6-10) miles as progressive runs. Often it's without even thinking. I start off slow to get warmed up and then pick up the pace a little and my body just seems to start hitting negative splits from there on out. The key for me is doing the first mile nice and easy. If, for example, I want to average about a 7:45 pace over 5 miles (with 1mi. wu/cd), then I try to hit the first mile around 8:30-8:40. If I do that first mile at 8:00-8:15 I can almost guarentee that the 4th or 5th mile of the faster stuff will take some extra effort.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:25 pm 

If you follow Daniels' VDOT tables closely, then you also need to be careful about your VO2Max workouts. I noticed recently that Daniels recommends running VO2Max intervals about 12 seconds/mile faster than 5K race pace. That's the same number you'll get from the Runworks calculator. However, Pfitzinger recommends running VO2Max intervals at 5K race pace.

I've been following the more aggressive Daniels pace, but using Pfitzinger VO2Max workout plans, which I think was a mistake. Looking more carefully, Daniels generally calls for shorter intervals and longer recoveries than Pfitzinger, which is why his faster pace recommendation makes sense. Doing the faster Daniels pace with the longer Pfitzinger intervals with shorter recovery times probably makes for too difficult a workout.

For comparison, I checked out the popular calculators at www.mcmillanrunning.com. For speed workouts, McMillan recommends a slightly different pace depending on the interval length and goal race length. For example, for me he recommends 800m intervals be somewhere about 1 to 19 seconds faster than 5K pace. For 1600m intervals, it's about 0 to 12 seconds SLOWER than 5K pace.

I guess the moral of the story is that a single number for "VO2Max pace" doesn't really make sense, because you also need to consider the length of each interval, recovery period between intervals, and total number of intervals. This was probably already obvious to everyone but me. :-)


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:25 pm 

I used Daniels' 65-79% of HRMax guideline for my 6 mile easy run today. For me, that translates to a goal HR range of 129 to 156. I took extra care to run very easily, and averaged 145 HR for the run. The pace felt almost comically slow, though, and I averaged 10:18/mile! Wow.

Does it ever get easier to run easy (pun intended)? If you practice it, will your goal HR range for easy runs eventually coincide with your recommended easy run pace (about 8:40/mi in my case)?


OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:51 am 

I feel your confusion, Rickshaw. If I run my VDOT-indicated easy pace of 9:17, my heart rate tends to average about 151 over 5 miles or so. My theoretical maximum heart rate is 176, so that's 86% of max MR at easy pace. Last night I wore my heart rate monitor while doing a 3 mile tempo run on my treadmill (at my VDOT-indicated 7:42 pace), and averaged about 163 HR during the tempo portion, or about 92% of max. I handled the tempo portion well, and could have easily continued for at least another couple of miles...2/2 breathing. So then my HR only increases 12 beats per minute - or 6 percentage points - between Easy pace and Tempo pace? Makes no sense to me.

I've long suspected that my actual max heart rate is higher than 220 - age (44), which would mean that both %'s of maximum are actually lower than I indicate above. But it also seems like my heart rate gets up there with very little exertion. I bet I could hit my theoretical 75% of max = 132 bpm by walking quickly. Very similar to you Rickshaw, having to run 10:18 pace just to stay under 79% of max. It just doesn't make any sense to me.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:41 am 

The HR figures are confusing. In your case, I wonder if your actual max HR isn't higher than the 220 - age formula would predict. By that formula, my max HR should be about 185, but I've measured it at 198 many times, and even higher on a couple of occasions. So your max HR could easily be well off from 176.

But whatever your max HR, having only 6 bpm between easy and threshold pace doesn't sound right. From Daniels' numbers, it should be at least about 15 bpm higher, and probably much more than that.

I've heard people say that your body needs to get used to running at such a low heart rate. So supposedly if you do all your easy runs at the correct HR, you'll adapt and be able to run your proper easy run pace at that HR. Maybe if you don't practice it, then the body just automatically cranks up the heart rate whenever you use a running stride, regardless of how fast you're going. Ok, I'm just making stuff up here.

Yeah, I bet you could hit 132 bpm walking too. I once measured my HR at 148 while standing still at the start line, a minute before the gun went off. I guess I was really nervous!

I think what I'll take away from all of this is that I won't pay much attention to HR, but that easy runs should feel really, really easy. If they feel even remotely like work, then they're too hard. I'm probably doing all my easy/recovery runs more like "medium" than easy right now, which can't be good preparation for my hard days.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Easy / Long Pace Runs Question Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:30 am 

Well, two months later, and I tried the low heart rate easy run experiment again. In April, I did 6 miles at an average 145 HR, at a pokey 10:18/mile pace. Today I did 8 miles at an average 147 HR, at a 9:16/mile pace. That's still pretty slow, but it's a lot more reasonable than a 10+ minute mile! I've been running a LOT of long, slow, and easy runs the past month or two, and I think that's made the difference.

Anyone else do easy runs by HR?


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