The benefits and intensity of easy pace running

easy run

Ho(o)ka One One. Easy runs should feel “chill” and “relaxed”

It’s not always easy to know what “easy” or “comfortable” or “chill” should feel like, as these are sort of subjective ways of describing a pace. I’ve been researching the training philosophy of  Jack Daniels lately (no, I don’t have a drinking problem), both online and in his book “Daniels’ running formula“. Daniels was named “The World’s Best Running Coach” by the Runners World and has a broad education in the field of physiology, so his ideas are obviously worth looking into. Daniels has specific thoughts on almost everything about running, including easy runs.

The rule of 60%

In one of his videos online, Daniels explains that at about 60% intensity, your heart’s stroke volume stagnates, which means that your heart is beating as hard as it’s ever going to beat (unless you approach max HR) without even working hard. This in turn accomplishes everything we want to accomplish with easy running. it gives us the benefits of

  • Working our heart muscle and it’s ability to pump blood.
  • Increasing capillary capacity and density. Crucial for giving oxygen to muscle cells and therefore increasing aerobic capacity.
  • Developing the mitochondria that burns fat and turns it into the energy we use when we run. Another crucial component of aerobic capacity.
  • Working the slow twitch muscle fibers.
  • Increasing running economy .
  • Improving bone health and muscle tendon strength.
  • Speeding up recovery after a hard workout.
  • And probably much much more

Now in order to get the most out of these benefits, it’s important to stay above the 60% border. Daniels defines easy running as running between 60% and 79% of your maximum heart rate. Obviously running at 79% gives the same benefits as running at 60%, but faster since the heart is beating faster.

V-DOT easy

If you’ve ever heard about Daniels you’ve probably also heard about his VDOT-concept. It is basically a benchmark for how fit you are as a runner, and he has a big table of training paces corresponding with VDOT-values. Based on my 5k pr of 16:45, his chart gives me 4:31/km or 7:16/mile as the pace for my easy runs. Which to me seems a little closer to the 79% than 60%, but still well within his defined range.

Anyways, exciting stuff. I’m looking forward to dive deeper into it. Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this article or got any questions or anything to add at all. Peace.

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