Friday, July 31, 2020

Jumping July: July 2020 in review

July 2020 in review!

Total mileage for the month: 290.3
  • June 29-July 5: 62.2
  • July 6-12:  71
  • July 13-19:  60.7
  • July 20-26:  75.0
  • July 27-Aug. 2:  projected at 64, and I noticed my weekly mileage totals illustrate that I've been taking a day off every other week

  • July 9:  6 x 2:00 hill repeats within a 9.11 mile run (yes, the 911 was on purpose!).  This was Christian's workout and the type I never run on my own accord, meaning that it's good for me because it addresses my weaknesses.  Nothing like trying to keep up with a couple of 24 year olds on a hill to get the heart pumping!  I miss the GAP feature on Strava (now only on the paid version), but this was a good effort for me, and I kept up with the ladies who were recently running in college, so I'm calling it a win.
  • July 14:  5 mile tempo at 6:45 average via 6:42, 6:49, 6:36, 6:41, 6:56 (2 warm up, 2 cool down).  Christian had a 5 mile tempo at 6:45-6:50 so I decided to go for it, even though I really had no idea if I could run it.  It felt really good and not very hard for the first half, then I think we got a little too ambitious on mile 3, and mile 4 was harder, then suddenly mile 5 was quite a struggle (for me, she finished strong!).  It was unlike tempos feel when I'm in good shape; usually on those the first mile or two is the worst and then I find a groove and finish with my fastest mile.  As I was fighting to stay under 7:00 during mile 5, I started thinking, "I used to fight to stay under 6:00 (!!)."  I really have no idea how I used to run tempos so fast.  But, for being back to running for 6 weeks and not having run any miles under 7:00 before this workout, I was happy to run my 1st through 5th sub-7:00 miles back consecutively.
  • July 16:  5 miles easy, 10 x 1:00 moderate/1:00 easy, cool down to 9 miles.  I helped my friend Amy with a starter workout and I ended up feeling really good on the pushes, which averaged about 6:30 pace.  I would have guessed they were more like 7:00 pace, so things are feeling smoother.
  • July 21:  6 x 1 mile tempos with 1:00 recoveries in 6:22, 6:28, 6:18, 6:22, 6:27, 6:34 - average 6:25 (2.2 warm up, 2 cool down).  Christian had this workout with a goal pace of 6:30-6:35, but we got out a little fast and then it changed to try to stay under 6:30.  I felt good for 4, then 5 was a stretch and 6 was a struggle.  Christian is in one rep better shape than me (we were together for 1-5 but her last mile was 6:20, like the July 14 workout where we were together for 4 miles but she finished strong and I died on the last mile) so it's really helpful for me to run workouts with her!  I couldn't have run this on my own.
  • July 23:  Fartlek of 3 x 3' on/90" off/2' on/1' off/1' on/30" off (2 warm up, 5.3 cool down - the farlek covered 3.7 miles so it was an 11 mile day).  This was, again, Christian's workout that she was kind enough to drag me along for - she says I'm helping her but she is definitely in better shape than me and I mostly hang on!  It's been really good for me to get some speed back.  This was a nice effort-based relatively short workout.  Our push paces ranged from 6:01-6:27.  Afterward I told Amy I wanted to run 4 more miles so she took me out for 5...
  • July 28:  3 easy, 3 moderate in 6:58, 7:01, 6:54, 4 easy.  Missy asked me to do 4 miles sub-7:00 with her but I stopped at 3 (plus 2 wasn't even sub-7:00) - which is the beauty of not having a training schedule I guess, but I was not feeling it on this run.  Our third warm up mile was 7:33 and that already felt hard so I knew I was in trouble.  In hindsight I think I did a bit too much the previous week, so live and learn!  The weather was also atrocious, but that was the case for every run this month so I did not even note it (dew points of 70-76*).
  • Strides or hill strides on July 2, 4, 7, 13, 18, 20, 27.
  • No running doubles this month.  It's possible that 75 miles is the highest weekly mileage I've done in singles only, and if not it's close.

  • Biking:  I biked on July 5 and 19, and to and from running group several times for 56 total bike miles.
  • Elliptigo-ing:  My elliptigo arrived on July 23.  I rode it as double on July 23, 27, 30, and on July 29 for a day off running for 35.7 total elliptigo miles.  I'm not good enough on it yet to get my heart rate up to where I need to, but I'm improving each ride.  I think it's like running about half the distance, e.g., an 8 mile elliptigo ride is like a 4 mile run.  The website said that most people don't use all 8 gears, but riding in the Ozarks I definitely need them all!
  • Strength Training:  1:55, 2:01, 2:16, 1:45.
  • Yoga:  1:05, 1:25, 1:10, 1:30.

My first ElliptiGo ride

Long Runs:
  • July 3 - 15 miles (8:18). This was a hot, humid, hilly, breakfast run!  A Friday long run worked best for most of our running group this week, so we ran long a day earlier and then had breakfast at First Watch after.  I'd planned to do a light progression in the final 5 miles - dropping about 10 seconds per mile (something like 8:10, 8:00, 7:50, 7:40, 7:30), but at mile 10 when we were facing 3.5 miles of net uphill and I'd sweated out more fluid than anyone should, I decided I didn't really need to do that!  Everyone ran slightly different distances, but the group included Sean, Sierra, Christian, Rebecca, and Elise.
  • July 11:  16.2 miles (8:04).  I only planned to run 15 so the extra mile shows I was feeling good - I got faster/stronger throughout and my final 7 miles were in the 7's or very close (e.g., 8:01), keeping it easy - this was also the first time I saw 7:30ish miles (the final 2) with my heart rate truly in an easy zone during this return.  I ran 3 miles solo, 9 with Christian and Sierra (they had a cut-back week), then 4 solo.
  • July 17:  13 miles (7:46) on a Friday long run.  I was thrilled with this one because it was the effort level that just 4 weeks previously got me about 8:30 pace!  I ran with Missy chatting the whole time and didn't realize that we were staying around 7:45 pace until I stopped my watch at the end.  This was my first cut-back week since I started running again at the beginning of June - I built for 6 weeks then took the 7th week down, which is probably a little too much, but I am calling it a win because in the past I wouldn't have taken any weeks down when not being coached.
  • July 25:  15 miles (8:00) on the Bass Pro half marathon course, kind of as part of the Bass Pro Recycle Run.  Our group of Rebecca, Christian, Sierra, and Colin and decided to run the half course (which is also 13.1 miles of the full course) for those in the group training for Bass Pro who haven't run it before.  We all got goodies and snacks afterward!  Will the Bass Pro Marathon weekend actually happen?  Kind of doubtful.  Will I run one of the races if it does?  Likely.

Running Highlights:
  • My running group did Jumping July photos almost every day!  We decided that Jumping January wasn't enough for the year.  I included almost all of them in this post.
  • I ran my first 7-day week back July 6-12, and I was proud of myself for waiting that long.  The following week I took a day off, then another 7 day week July 20-26.  A day off every other week for me may be a good spot right now, but in August I will let my coach decide!
  • I enjoyed this article, about time trial PRs and whether they "count".  I'm not in a position for this to be an issue (there is not enough GPS error in the world for me to PR at the moment!), but I've seen a lot of people run really fast time trials during COVID-19 and I think it's awesome!  Personally, I would not count a time trial PR unless it was run on a track with manual splits, or if I could run a certified road course exactly (which would be difficult).  I see people using GPS on the track and shake my head...a 5k is 12.5 laps, not 11.7 no matter what your Garmin says!  On a straight course GPSs can be really close or even right on, but you just don't know the margin of error that day.  You may have actually run faster than your watch says too!  In the big scheme of things I also think if it makes someone happy right now then so be it, but you're setting yourself up for future disappointment by running (for example) 50 laps on the track and calling it a half marathon PR.  But my favorite parts of the article was that the author mentioned that really every PR has an asterisk - whether it was perfect weather, a fast course, a great pace group, etc. - and a contributor mentioned that he always figured he could actually run 1-2% faster than his PR since there is always something not quite ideal about race day.  I agree with both of these so much! 

Life Highlights
  • Our garden thrived this month, producing tomatoes (several varieties), peppers (several varieties), eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, okra, cucumbers, and lots of blackberries.
  • Since no one is taking real vacations this year, we have had family visitors instead.  My brother-in-law's family stayed with us for almost 3 weeks, and my parents visited for 4 days this month.   I didn't do much with my brother-in-law's family because I was in quarantine most of the time they were here (after a firsthand COVID exposure, but it was outdoors and I was fine), but Albani and Jon did some fun outdoor activities with them (zoo, farmers market, etc.).  We took my parents to Dogwood Canyon and made a day of grilling out at home another day, plus lots of board and card games.
Savasana, or corpse pose

Nugget got sprayed by a skunk this month,
& this was how he felt about the hydrogen
peroxide, baking soda, & Dawn bath

Latest cross-stitch
Dogwood Canyon

About half of our butternut & spaghetti
squash harvest!

  • Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
  • Someone We Know by Shari Lapenda
  • An Anonymous Girl by Grer Hendricks
  • The Turn the Key by Ruth Ware
  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond
  • The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins
  • I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
  • Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
  • Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent
  • Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
Theme for the month:
Different goals.  I'm not going to run a yearly mileage PR because I had to take 15.5 weeks off, but my goal is to run 2020 miles in 2020.  I did the math on what this would take - averaging 54 mpw from here on, which is very doable as long as I stay healthy.  I also was inspired by my friend Liz's recent virtual half to set the goal of running a 1:25 half this fall.  I have run every time between 1:20-1:29 (most multiple times) except for 1:25!  What makes this ironic is that I had the goal of running a 1:25 for years, but then I ran a 1:24 and that was that.  After my time off that also seems do-able, whereas PRing in the half does not.  People who run really fast off of cross-training, I salute you, but I am sure not one of you!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Beyond Boston: Dean Gartland

I've known Dean virtually for about 10 years.  He is a very talented runner -- he ran his first sub-3:00 ten days before his 57th birthday and is working on running 25 consecutive Bostons!  He is also a really caring runner who has made amazing wooden projects for most of the Loopsters over the years (I have some amazing Christmas ornaments from him that I'll add a picture of after Thanksgiving when I next dig that box out!).  His enthusiasm for the sport and for Boston shine through in his interview, and I have a feeling he will accomplish his goal of placing in the top 3 in his age group at Boston soon!
Introduce yourself (who you are, where you're from, what you do, etc.).
Hey, I'm Dean Gartland from Louisville, KY.  I am a woodworker by trade and it's something that I love. Woodworking is also a hobby of mine next to running. I am the second oldest of ten kids. I was always running growing up either from my only older brother or chasing after one of my younger brothers.

How did you get started in running? Tell us a little about your early running career through present.
I started running in 1987 after talking to a guy who worked for me about our local half marathon at Derby time. He encouraged me to run a local 5K in a couple of weeks so I started running to be able to do that. Next was a 10K then a 15K followed by the half marathon. The only goal I had was to finish it in under two hours. Met that goal by a couple of minutes. 

I was hooked and wanted to run even more then. The longer the race the better but the only race I could find after that were 5Ks. I didn't have a clue how to train so I would just go out and run as hard as I could every day. My knee would sometimes hurt so bad after an hour of running I thought it would just explode but I kept on running. I would get home and could barely get out of the car and would hobble and hop to the house. This type of training went on until 1993 when I decided to give up running. I had lost interest, I hadn't met any new friends through running, and my wife and I had split up.
Why did you decide to run your first marathon?  What was your journey to BQ like? 
In 2007 my oldest daughter called me and told me how much she loved me taking her to races so that she could watch me finish and even got to run in some of the kid dashes. She told me that it would be great if we could both run that local half marathon the last Saturday in April. I agreed. At 5'5" and almost 190 lbs I was in no shape to run. I stopped at my favorite park after work and couldn't complete 1/8 of a mile. Boy was that an eye opener. My daughter had not only gotten me to run it but three of my brothers, a sister, and my sister-in-law. I ended up running that half marathon and loving it just as much as my first. At our little after party I announced that the following year I would be 50 years old and would run the full marathon in 2008. My daughter's mouth just dropped as she asked me if I was sure that I could do that. With a huge smile I told her I could.

So in January I decided that I need to get some help with this training stuff that I really knew nothing about. I found the local Fleet Feet running store where they had running groups meet on Wednesdays for a run and Saturdays for long runs. I showed up with my walkman on my hip and head phones around my neck. The owner pointed me to this group of older men to run with. I thought "Good a group that I'll be able to impress" When I asked them what they were going to run that Wednesday I was told that they were going to do hill repeats. Wasn't real sure what that was but asked if I could run along. After a mile warm up they explained that we would slowly run down this hill and at the bottom do a "U" turn and sprint back up. We would do this six times. No problem I thought since my local park was nothing but hills. Fast forward to Thursday morning when I could hardly walk getting out of bed to go to work. OMG I was so sore.That was just the beginning to so many great training runs with that group.

Soon it was the last Saturday in April and I was on the starting line of my first full marathon. As I ran past mile 25 my new training partners jumped in with me to run my last mile all the time yelling at the crowd that I was just about to qualify for the Boston marathon. I had no clue. After I finished sure enough I had run my first marathon (3:33:26) and qualified to run Boston in 2009. I just had to do it! But thought that it might just be my last marathon because those things really hurt.

The following year (2009) I trained hard and got registered for Boston 2009. One of my younger brothers and his wife told me that they would take care of my room in Boston because they were going to cheer me on. I ended up running my first Boston and only my second marathon one second faster that my first one. 3:33:25. That was the most awesome experience I had ever lived through at that time next to the birth of my daughter. I was going to be going back again the following year. 

One thing I just couldn't get my head wrapped around was the fact that I had just trained over 800 miles to run a 26.2 mile race. Seemed there should be a better way to use all of that training. That fall I ran both the Chicago Marathon and Las Vegas Marathon. I kept on until I was running six marathons a year.

In 2014 I decided that I wanted to now shoot for a sub-3 hour marathon. In February I ran a 3:01 which beat my 2013 Chicago marathon time of 3:02. Right before the 2014 Chicago marathon my training was going so good and my confidence was sky high, but four weeks before the marathon my Achilles started to bother me so much that I would limp the first couple of miles of every run. I had to get this fixed. I stopped running and only got in 5 or 6 runs the last four weeks before Chicago. At the Chicago marathon expo I had a doctor do an ultrasound on my Achilles to find out if I was going to be able to race the following day. He said he could see why I was in pain but should be okay to race. I was all smiles. I crossed the finish line the next day, (10 days before my 57th birthday) with a time of 2:59:52. I hit another goal!
What are your thoughts on Boston 2020 being cancelled? How did you handle the initial postponement and eventual cancellation, mentally and physically?
It was heartbreaking to see that the Boston marathon was first postponed then canceled in 2020, but that was the only right thing to do. I had started my training for the April Boston in November. Getting my mileage up and really just getting in shape for the hard stuff that would start in December. Once I had heard that the Boston was going to be moved to September I took a few easy weeks before once again starting up my training. Then again I get this message as I was getting out of my truck to go for a training run that Boston was now canceled for 2020. I stood there for a moment deciding not to push this run but instead to use it to reflect and calm down from the bad news. Running has helped me out through so many bad times.

Why did you decide to run Boston 2020?
Boston is everything that you have ever heard of about it. I've run 37 marathons now (all of them have been Boston qualifiers) and I can say that when people cross a finish line I see a lot of people break down and cry that they have completed a marathon. Boston is the ONLY marathon that I have seen so many people break down in tears at the starting line, I love this race and now can't see a year that I don't run it.
Do you plan to run Boston 2020 virtually? Why or why not?
I now have the opportunity to run Boston Virtually and that's what I'll do. This won't be a race or even a fast 26.2 miles but it will be a way of giving thanks for the ability to be able to do something that I love. There were so many questions to be answered and I think that the BAA did an excellent job of answering all of them. They were offering a commemorative bib for the first 15,000 entrants and I had to be one. A couple of day after I registered I received an email from the BAA letting me know that I was one of the first 15,000. Another goal met. 

Do you plan to run Boston 2021? Why or why not? 
Yes, I've run 11 consecutive Boston marathons and at this rate I'll get to join the quarter century club of 25 consecutive Boston marathons at the age of 75, another goal that I'm chasing, well that and finishing in the top three in my age group in Boston!

Friday, July 3, 2020

You cannot run too slow on your easy days

I've seen so many benefits from slowing down my easy runs that I want to tell the world so every runner can get these benefits.  Learn from my mistakes, everyone!  In the future I'll post more details about my personal experience, but in short, when I slowed down my easy runs I felt much stronger, had markedly fewer injuries/niggles, had reduced incidences of illness, experienced performance improvements (PRs in every distance from 5k to marathon at age 38-39), and began enjoying running even more, which I didn't even think was possible!  I think why many runners don't do it is because running faster can produce short-term gains, and we see those gains and think that it works - I have been guilty of thinking exactly that!  Plus it is fun to run fast and to say a certain "impressive" pace is easy. 

In this post I've linked and summarized some great articles on the topic that have been written by people who are more knowledgeable and faster than me. I mean, if Sally Kipyego runs her recovery runs at 8:30 pace or slower, why are 3:00 marathoners running theirs at 7:00 pace? 

The Two Simple Reasons Your Easy Days are Ruining Your Training
My favorite piece from this article is: "You cannot run too slowly on a recovery day, only too fast. Make sure you understand that. It is a simple concept that is notoriously hard to grasp."

The author notes, "In high school, I would often race my easy days around 6:45 mile pace and run my workout days around 6:30 pace. Ten years later, as a professional runner, I run many of my hard workouts at 5-minute mile pace or faster and my easy days at 8:30 pace or slower."  I have read in several places that a big difference between amateur and professional runners is that amateurs have a much smaller pace differential between easy pace and workouts, wheres professionals have a huge pace differential.  If you are running tempos at 7:30 pace and easy runs at 8:00 pace, you are either under-performing in workouts or over-reaching on easy days, and I would bet it is the latter!

The author also mentioned that going easy by "feel" is best for most runners, and while I agree with this after a person has learned to run easy, I see that a lot of runners don't know what it's like to actually run easy - they think they are doing it when they are running a moderate pace (I have been one of those people)!  "Easy" and "not hard" are not the same.
I mean, if you can't trust Runners World for training advice, who can you trust? Hah!

Running slow is very common with Kenyan-born runners, and no one can argue what distance running powerhouses they are. The article notes, "Sally Kipyego, an Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 meters, can hold a sub-5:00 minute pace in the event. Achieving that requires Kipyego to log plenty of hard track sessions and tempo runs. Yet on her non-workout days, she ambles along at 8:30-per-mile pace, sometimes even slower."  Her easy pace is over 3:30 slower than her 10K pace, and clearly it works. Sally recently placed 3rd in the 2020 Olympic Trials.  Side note: It completely blows my mind that a woman can average 4:55 pace for 6.2 miles!

I've read this time and time again, and you will see it as a recurring theme in this summary: “The common denominator among most really successful runners, people running at a high level, is a really wide chasm between training-run pace and where they work out....Brenda Martinez, who has PRs of 1:57.91 for 800m and 4:00.94 for 1500m, is a perfect example of this. Under the guidance of coach Joe Vigil, she’ll run 8 x 1,000m repeats at 2:55 [that is 4:41/mile pace!], but on her easy days, she’ll run a 9-minute pace."

The article also advises "runners to use 10K race pace plus 2 minutes for easy-day pace, wear heart rate monitors (and aim for 65 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate), or take occasional treadmill runs to monitor pace."  While I am not at all a fan of treadmill running, it's clear there are benefits to setting it at a certain pace, whether easy or on a workout day, and letting it keep you there!  This article presents the other side of the coin too (faster easy days and when they might be appropriate).

How Fast Should Your Easy Runs Be?
This one provides great scientific explanations, and if you're interested in the science behind easy running make sure to read the whole article. Just like heart rate doesn't lie, science does not lie! It also breaks down a lot of common questions (e.g., "But if I feel good can I run faster?", "Don't I get more benefit from running faster?", "How slow is too slow?", etc.).

I have personally found that I will run a faster marathon off of almost all easy running than off of frequent workouts at a slightly lower mileage volume.  This is probably because,  "...nothing will consistently help you improve continuously like developing the aerobic system."

For the numerically minded (and really, what runner isn't), "Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75% of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 %....  Running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run doesn’t provide a lot of additional physiological benefit....In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster...Even though 50-55 % of 5k pace will seem too easy, the research clearly demonstrates that it still provides near optimal physiological aerobic adaptation."

"Many runners have a distorted view of what 'easy' means".  This post summaries a couple of scientific studies and concludes that you cannot run too slow on your easy days and that easy pace should vary from day to day!  I think that's another sign of "not real" easy pace (or at least it was for me):  always running the same pace on easy runs, or stating ahead of time what your easy pace is going to be.

The post mentions the 2:00+ current 5k pace guideline for easy runs, which I've seen noted in numerous paces and based on my personal experience is pretty solid. 

Why Running Slow Can Eventually Help You Run Faster
I acknowledge that the slow easy runs method may not be best for short-term success.  If you are running one training block, you might be better off running faster every day.  But if that describes you, I doubt you're inventing the time to read this post, plus most runners I know are in it for the long-haul!

If the previous information isn't convincing you that this method works, perhaps this expert will scare you, "So if all your runs are too fast, according to Bartholic, you’re not developing the power system that you need for 97 percent of a race...Your maximum aerobic benefit is going to be running slowly....When you’re running slowly, and your injury risk is lower, you can run more often, more miles, and build up slowly,”

In the past I've fallen victim to thinking that I had to run a lot of workouts to get faster, but I had a similar experience to this: “You think you have to do a lot of speed work to get faster,” he said, “but after doing most of my runs at a slow pace my marathon finish time was much faster.”  

This article mentions how to calculate an appropriate easy pace based on heart rate, and also mentions the "talk test". I don't know how the talk test goes for others, but I can converse when running marathon pace but that is NOT an easy pace for me.

It's Okay To Run Slow, Really
If your race performance has plateaued or you've dealt with reoccurring injuries, slowing down your easy runs might be just what you need to break through.  It seems very counter-intuitive; we want to go pound workouts and pick up the pace every day to get faster, but "While some runners have success with faster paces on easy days (particularly lower volume runners), eventually even those runners usually see diminishing returns as aerobic adaptations from moderate running get tapped out." 

"Polarization essentially means that training is usually easy or hard, rather than a grinding-it-out moderate all the time. Lots of “grey-area” moderate running can increase injury risk and lead to stagnation due to the absence of adequate recovery and faster stimuli." When I was training for a goal pace of 6:15 for the Indy Monumental Marathon, I noticed that I rarely ran between 6:15-7:45 pace - the "gray area" for me (if I was hitting 7:15-7:30 at the end of an easy run it was only because someone I was running with was speeding up).  My workouts were at 5:30-6:15 pace, and my easy runs were 7:45-8:30 pace.  It wouldn't have hurt me to run easy runs slower than that - many runners who are much faster than me do.

How Running Slow Makes You Faster
Seriously, run slow to run fast.

" 2018 Ironman World Championships runner-up Bart Aernouts said... “a slow run can only be too fast, not too slow” [notice a reoccurring theme here?].  Bart’s really easy runs are paced between 6:54/mile and 8:03/mile. That’s not super slow, but some of you are likely running most of your runs at a similar pace – and you’re likely not one of only two men to finish the iconic Kona Ironman course in under eight hours, running a 2:45:41 marathon, averaging 6:19/mile after a 2.4-mile swim, and a 112-mile ride in the Hawaiian heat. If that’s the case, it’s time to slow it down."  I think that pretty much speaks for itself - a 2:45 marathon after swimming and biking for 5+ hours in terribly hot conditions in insane!

But what pace should we run?  "For non-elite athletes, coach Luke Humphrey...recommends 1:30–2:30 minutes per mile slower than goal race pace."  I'm not sure what race distance he is referring to, but less than 90 seconds per mile slower than any race pace is too fast to really be easy; well, unless you are one of those amazing people running 50 to 100 milers!

The article also mentions the importance of the other pieces of training programs, such as fast intervals.  While this post is not about them, workouts are obviously essential to race success and should be included in a training schedule in addition to the awesome easy runs we are focused on here.
This x 1000: "But just because you can push harder than a true easy pace doesn't mean you always should."  Just because you can run faster on easy days doesn't mean it's a smart idea!

This article also discusses the difference between marathoners running sub-3:00 vs. 4-6 hours, which I thought was a helpful distinction.  The faster you're racing, the more differential you should have between easy pace and marathon pace. A 2:59 marathoner needs to slow the pace down 1:30 or so per mile, while someone running a 4:30 marathon may only need to slow down by 0:45-1:15.

This is important for marathoners: "Part of doing those slower runs is that it teaches our bodies to burn fat, which is really important in a marathon because our carbohydrate stores only last so long," she says. "So the more efficient we are burning fat, the more we can push off hitting the wall."  This is also a good point I hadn't thought about until now, but when I was running easy runs too fast I was more apt to hit the wall.

What Pace Should My Easy Runs Be?
I personally experienced this: "More often than not, when a runner’s race times plateau it’s a sign that there’s not enough variety in the training program, they’re not recovering well from the work they’re doing day after day, or some combination of the two."

We runners always want a number!  "I recommend easy/recovery runs to be 90 seconds to 2 minutes per mile slower than your marathon pace."

The author discusses the easy runs of 2:13-2:14 marathoners: "with a majority of those runs in the 7:30 per mile pace range—nearly two-and-a-half minutes per mile slower than the paces they could race a marathon!"  If 2:13-2:14 marathoners are running easy runs at 7:30, I certainly don't need to be!

Using the 80/20 Rule to Balance Triathlon Training Intensity
While this article is clearly about triathlon and not running, the point about the "moderate intensity rut" is spot on. "Recreational triathletes spend a much smaller percentage of their training time at low intensity and a much larger percentage at moderate intensity" (compared to elites and professionals who perform much better).  Another case of running slower to perform better!

You Can't Run Too Slow on Your Long Runs!
I mean, the title says it all. He recommends marathon pace + 2:00.

In some ways it is harder to run slower for long runs, because it means significantly more time on feet!  This article isn't focused on advanced marathon runners, but I think it's important to note that if you are trying to work your marathon time down, workout long runs become very important, especially later in the training cycle.

I found this long article on base training after I wrote this original post, and it doesn't exactly fit in this post, but I wanted to add it to show the importance of aerobic development.  The author also notes that you'd be surprised at how well you can race off of lots of easy mileage plus some strides, and I have experienced that.  Now is the perfect time to train like that, since it's an investment in long-term development and we are unsure when races will happen again! 

Here are a few examples from some really fast people:
Nick, a 15:45 5k and 32:29 10k runner ran these PRs at age 37, bettering his college bests, after slowing down his easy runs to an average of 7:45.  Read his details here.

Shawanna calls it sexy pace! She is a 2:45 marathoner who runs a lot at 8:00-9:30 pace.  You can see one of such runs here, but her Instagram account and Strava are full of them (she is also the best ambassador for running positivity that I know - you can't help but smile and love running when you see anything she posts).

This post by Sam says it all - she ran 3 blazing fast mile time trials (in Alabama in June!), and her average pace for all of her running was 8:34.  Aside from her impressive 5:02 mile, she has also run a 17:20 5k and a 2:49 marathon with easy running from 8:00-9:00+.

Molly Seidel, the runner up in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, posts all of her runs on her Strava, and her easy runs are usually 7:30-8:00 (relative to her 5:30 marathon pace!).

Keira D'Amato has been making headlines during quarantine, including time trialing a 15:04 5k and 4:33 mileHer Strava shows many runs between 8:00-9:00 pace.

Hiruni Wijayaratne is a 2:34 marathoner hoping to represent Sri Lanka in the next Olympics, and at the end of this podcast she notes that her easy days will be 9:00 pace, maybe 8:40.

Now is the perfect time to experiment in training, with no races for the foreseeable future.  If you try slowing down easy runs and don't like it, then you can always speed them back up.  In the words of Dr. Seuss, "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may."