Easy Miles Should Actually Be Easy – Calculate your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate.
I feel like I’ve been posting and talking a lot about my easy miles recently. I run all my easy runs, long runs, and recovery runs at at least 10+ min/mile and I am proud of that because it’s made me stronger and faster, and I’ve avoided injuries. Slowing down and monitoring your maximum aerobic heart rate makes you a more efficient runner (aka running further, faster) and lowers your risk of potential running injuries.
Slowing your pace by a few minutes 3-4 times every week doesn’t mean you’re slow, obese, insignificant, or any less of a runner than someone else out there. It’s a smart move, not something to be ashamed of. Just want to throw that out there.
In the fall of 2015 when I was training for the Richmond Marathon, my coach and I calculated my maximum aerobic heart rate (MAHR). Once we calculated the number, I was instructed to run most of my weekly runs slow enough so that my heart rate stays under this number. By doing this, I was training myself to be more of an efficient runner and also to lower the risk for any injury! Well, back in 2015 I had to run mile paces in the 12:30s to keep my heart rate this low! Yes, I was getting passed left and right by every single runner in Boston, but I didn’t care. I kept it slow because I knew in the long run I would become a stronger, faster, more efficient runner.
Fast forward to now, and I have! I can now run in the 9:00s to keep my HR lower than my MAHR. My MAHR has changed a little, and even though I’m stronger, faster, and a more efficient runner than I was 2.5 years ago, I still monitor my HR during easy runs, recovery runs, and long runs. I aim to keep my HR lower than my MAHR and even though I can run in the 9:00s and keep my HR under it, I just stick to the 10:00s because that’s even easier, gets my HR even lower, and gives my legs even more of a break.
So, yes, I run “slow” 3-4x a week to get faster and to avoid injuries. It’s proven, worked for me and is continuing to work. And I will continue setting this example and encouraging people to slow down.
By doing this for 2.5 years, I’ve shaved 3 whole minutes off my half marathon average pace (10:45 –> 7:45) and 1+ minutes off my marathon average pace (9:45 –> 8:30).
Many people reach out to me asking for tips on how to slow down. My biggest pieces of advice?
1) Be okay with having people pass you and don’t worry about what anyone thinks as they pass you.
2) SLOW THE F DOWN! It’s not hard. Really. Just slow down. It’s actually very easy and your body will thank you.
If you have a watch that shows your current HR, change your screen so your HR is the only thing that shows. Don’t worry about pace! That will take care of itself.
One of my many running goals is to become a running coach. I am so excited to teach my future athletes about the importance of actually taking easy runs easy and slow, and how beneficial it is to monitor your MAHR if you actually want to get faster and avoid injuries, just like my coach has done for me. Thank you, Siobhan, you are the best! 🙂
Now, will I always run my long runs, easy runs, and recovery runs at 10+ pace? I don’t know. My goal is to get even faster and stronger, and as my paces continue to change, I’m sure that I will be able to run even faster with my HR still under my MAHR. But that’s something I’ll talk to my coach about when the time comes.
Here is a link to an article about MAHR training and “The 180 Formula”, which my coach and I used to calculate my MAHR.
What are your thoughts about slowing down?