A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hard Effort vs. Easy Effort - A Small Primer


Every now and again, I need to explain some of my basic fitness theories so that people actually "get it".

I've posted numerous articles about Periodization and the "hard day, easy day" approach. And most athletes, including beginners, have heard about this.

But most athletes, even experienced ones, don't realize the SCOPE of the difference between "easy" and "hard". What they think is "easy" is still a pretty hard pace, thus not giving their bodies the time to TRULY recover from their hard workouts. A lot of injuries result from this problem.

If you're running a 9 min/mile pace for your hard pace, a 9:15 min/mile pace is not what I think of as an "easy" pace. You'll need to go slower. A LOT slower.

So, let me try to clarify in layman's terms what it truly means to go easy, and maybe this will help people understand what hard and easy means.

Hard is when you strap on your watch, and turn it on when you begin running. Easy is when you leave your watch at home and forget about timing your run.

Hard is when you go on a set course with a certain time to finish in mind. Easy is when you try a totally new course to explore.

Hard is when you get the tunnel vision, focus inward, and concentrate on your focus and efficiency to move you faster. Easy is when you focus outward, soak in your surroundings, and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Hard is when when you put your game face on and mean business. Easy is when you strap on your shoes and put a big smile on your face because your aim is to have a bit of fun during your workout.

Hard is when you are a bit run down and tired after a good intense workout. Easy is when you feel energized and not the least bit run down at all after a workout.

Hard is when you know from your tiredness that you need an easy day to recover after your intense workout. Easy is when you finish your workout excited and itching to get at your hard workout the next day.

I hope this makes the difference between easy and hard clear. As a rule of thumb, I always tell my endurance athletes that, when running, your easy pace should be at least 90 seconds slower per mile than your marathon race pace, and ideally should be 2 minutes slower per mile.

In the case above with the 9 min/mile pace, your easy pace should be around 10:30-11 minutes per mile. YES, that is what I mean by easy!

Most of my athletes, when they do this easy pace, have said that their run feels "ridiculously easy". RIGHT!!! It's supposed to be that way. All your workouts need not be hard ones that sap your energy all the time.

You'll definitely lower any chance of injuries if you do your easy workouts, well, EASY! Only then will you safely ramp up your weekly mileage volume to levels that you didn't think was achievable before.

Trust me on this.

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