It seems almost—dare we type it?—goofy, but no matter what pace you want to achieve in a race, it’s important to do the majority of your training at an easy pace. This allows you to build a solid base of endurance so you can go the distance, whether that’s a 5K at the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend or 26.2 miles at the Walt Disney World® Marathon.
Yet what qualifies as “easy”? It’s important to keep in mind that pace recommendations, or even a GPS watch, don’t get the final say on your pace any given day. You do. Easy should feel like just that: pretty simple. Obviously, you’re sweating and working hard because that’s just what happens when you run, but when you’re running easy, you should be able to carry on a conversation and not feel terribly taxed in your lungs, legs or any other part of your body. An easy run, on a scale of 1 (lying on the couch) to 10 (sprinting for your life) is around a 4.
After a good night’s sleep and relatively little recent life stress, a 10:30 pace may feel just perfect. You’re not breathing too hard, your limbs are feeling light and fluid. On the other hand, if your previous night’s duties included at least one wake-up from a kid (two-legged or four-legged) or your quads are sore to the touch (thanks, squats!) or it’s extra-humid, a 10:30 pace may feel downright impossible. On days like that, slow down until you find a pace that approximates that easy-to-breathe, light, fluid feeling. It may be a 10:45, it may be an 11:45.
Doesn’t matter what the digits say. Going after that easy-run feeling is more important than any specific pace or number—which is easy enough to remember, right?
Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.