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The Hidden Factor That Explains Easy Run Pace

The Hidden Factor That Explains Easy Run Pace

Sweat Science Most people run the same pace regardless of how far they’re running, according to new research Get full access to Outside Learn, our…

Sunday, May 29

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Sweat Science

Most people run the same pace regardless of how far they’re running, according to new research Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ .

A friend of mine who ran for the great University of Arkansas track and cross-country dynasty of the 1990s once told me a story about training paces. When eager freshmen showed up each fall for their first workout with the team—five by a mile, say—they’d sidle over to the upperclassmen and ask nervously, “So, um, how fast are we supposed to run these miles?” And the seniors would cock an eyebrow and reply, “I don’t know, how fast can you run them?”

That approach works pretty well ( within limits ) for hard workouts. But it fails for easy runs, which might make up 80 percent of your training and by definition are done more slowly than you’re capable of. As a result, there are some radically different schools of thought about exactly how easy “easy” should be, from super relaxed to the semi-brisk Zone 2 training that’s currently popular. And there’s a more nihilistic school of thought—one that, on reflection, I’ve subscribed to for most of my running career—which assumes that easy running pace doesn’t really matter as long as you’re not pushing the extremes in either direction.

I’ve been contemplating this topic because of an interesting new study in Current Biology , […]

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