To become faster, you may actually have to run slower. This is a puzzling concept for most endurance athletes to understand when common sense tells us, if we have a marathon goal, then we should run that pace every week during our long runs.
During our base training phase (phase 1), we focused our workouts on an EASY, conversational paced effort in order to build up our aerobic capacity (the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during any form of exercise).
Running performance largely depends on one’s aerobic fitness. On EASY days, you increase mitochondria capillaries and blood flow to active muscles, making them better able to utilize oxygen. Without this foundation, you will not reap the full benefits of your faster, higher intensity workouts.
Here are a few other reasons why we run EASY:
1- Fat Burning for Energy: The ability for your body to burn fat efficiently for energy can reduce the need for an excessive amount of carbohydrates and leave you less likely to “hit the wall”
2- Increased Running Economy: The amount of oxygen that is needed to run a given pace is regulated when you give your body a strong foundation through EASY training
3- Develop Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers: This is a key to success for endurance athletes as slow twitch muscle fibers can operate for a long period of time without fatigue
4- Increase Glycogen Storage: Form of energy storage
5- Active Recovery: EASY running helps expedite recovery. One “hard” effort run after another can lead to over-training. It’s during recovery that adaptations from the hard training take place. If a runner doesn’t recover, the body is not going to adapt and evolve, and you’ll either struggle through your training, or worse, get injured.