Coaches Corner – Easy and Steady Running

In my first article (Tempo Running) I highlighted the importance of specificity in planning a training programme to meet the demands of the distance you are aiming to race over and also the importance of knowing the goal of every run or session.  Today I am going to talk about the aims and benefits of easy and steady running.

According to J Daniels Ph.D. (Daniels’ Running, 3rd edition2014), Easy pace running ranges from around 60-75% of maximum effort and is at a comfortable conversational pace which may vary within this range depending on how you are feeling.  Easy running forms the bulk of most athletes’ volume and is excellent at developing the heart muscle and vascularisation. Over time, the changes to muscle fibres increase the ability of the muscles to accept more oxygen and so create more fuel into energy. Most of the benefits gained as result of easy running are related to ‘time’ spent stressing the muscle fibres, and that extra time on feet is why you will often see people in marathon training running personal best times over all distances.

The best way to increase weekly mileage is by extending the duration of the easy runs or frequency of easy runs if you are able to add double run days. Do not forget that it is crucial not to increase mileage too quickly as the adaptations to increased training stress are relatively slow, and almost all running injuries are as a result of too much too soon or returning to full intensity too quickly after an injury or a break from training.

Steady running is considered to be between 75-85% of max effort, and the effort can be described as up to marathon pace, or projected marathon pace if not a marathon runner.  Even if you are not training for a marathon, these runs should be included in a balanced programme. Regular continuous steady runs are a great way to build endurance and quite often are run as increased pace or build pace runs, with the first few miles easy to warm up.  I have found over the years that one of the main reasons why so many marathon runners fail to achieve their target marathon times is due to the lack of steady or marathon specific running in training.

The best way to calculate your correct steady run pace is to enter a recent race result into the following table and click on the training tab:

Dave Lonnen is a UK Athletics Endurance Coach and former international athlete.  He represented NI on Road and XC many times from 1986-1992.  He has over 40 years of competitive running experience and has been coaching for the last 15 years with City of Lisburn, and is still competing as a masters athlete.  Dave has personal best times of 14.17 for 5k, 29.33 for 10k and 67.07 for the half marathon.

Dave can be followed at:

or ‘Club runners tips and advice’ on Strava at: