It’s always important not to copy elite athletes, or any individual for that matter, but we can certainly draw lessons or gain insights from others. The above schedule is from a 13-minute 5k runner who is running as slowly as 8:19/mi in training. Clearly, it’s a championship week but still a great lesson for recreational runners who tend to run too fast on their recovery days. We’ve seen 19-20 minute 5k runners who run faster than this on their “Easy” days.
Remember, recovery days are when the benefits from all your hard work are realized. Working hard requires you to recover “hard.” We cannot stress enough that Easy running should feel REALLY EASY. By running a little too quickly on Easy days you may finish the run sooner but you’re likely not getting any extra physiological benefit. You also risk injuring yourself and potentially reducing the amount of Quality work gained in your next workout.
Getting a quality plan or working closely with a coach is ideal but it’s still important to understand the purpose and the science behind Easy running to prevent overtraining.