Get Out of that Rut - Page 3
Easy Made Easy
Think of easy as active rest. Do not skip workouts. Easy days are extremely important to improvement.
Olympic distance runner Ryan Hall, who blazed the 2011 Boston Marathon to set a new American marathon record, touts the value of hard-easy on his website: "When my pride finally gave way to frustration and I was forced to take my easy days seriously, I gradually began to improve. Learn to pay attention to your body."
Easy means doing runs under 90 minutes with 60 to 70 seconds added to MP. I can hear the groans. It happens every time I give a talk on this subject. You still get to record the miles in your log book! A perceived level of exertion of 5 is easy, i.e. a very comfortable pace that you feel you could run forever. You should be able to endlessly babble to your training partner. Easy is keeping your HR under 65 percent of your max.
Cross Training and Rest
Some runners refuse to do easy runs since they believe their hard-earned conditioning will be lost. But they will do cross training, which provides rest from running workouts. Replace one or two easy runs per week with a sport or activity you like. Perhaps the most complementary option is to train for walking-power hiking, which is a common tactic in long, steep trail runs and races. Other options include swimming, bicycling, yoga and weight lifting. If you normally run for an hour, work up to an hour of cross training at a comfortable intensity.
Because trail running can be more physically demanding than road running, masters trail runners often need more rest days than they think. The number of rest days is individual but consider your age, mileage and training intensity. A rule of thumb: from 40 to 50, at least one rest day per week may suffice; from 50 to 60, consider two rest days; and 60 and over, try at least three rest days.
Masters can train as effectively as they did when they were young and improve their running by using the hard-easy-days method. Make your hard days hard—relative to your MP, your HR, perceived level of exertion or talk test. Make your easy days easy. Vary your weekly workouts and every three to six weeks take an entire easy week. Experiment to see what works for you.