299: The Paradox of Easy Running - AUDIO ONLY
[00:00:00] This is the relay for enters podcast, episode number 299. The paradox of easy running. Have you ever wondered why easy sometimes feels hard if you've been listening to our podcast for a while, or you're a part of our coaching program, you know, that we teach the concept of easy running in the 80 20 principle.
But why is it so hard for us to do this sometimes? Why does this idea of easy running, seem hard to wrap our heads around and sometimes hard to put into practice? We see so many runners struggle, both the idea and the implementation of the easy running concept. Even if they're familiar with it, they often tend to go out and push themselves too hard on all of their runs.
Running most of their runs in the moderate effort zone, which often leads to frustration, disappointment, and confusion when they aren't improving the way they want. Or they're constantly tired or in pain. So what's at the root of all this that's what we want to talk about today so if that sounds fun stay tuned
[00:01:19] Angie: All right, so today we are talking all about the paradox of easy running, and when you saw this title, maybe you were wondering what the heck that means. So what do we mean by the paradox of easy running? Well, today I was out on my easy run and I just. Was thinking and I was thinking about how easy running can sometimes be hard for some people for a lot of different reasons. The idea of easy running can be a hard thing to wrap your head around. The practice of easy running to like go out and actually learn what easy running feels like in your body, that can be difficult from people. Um, the discipline surrounding the [00:02:00] ability to go easy. There's a lot of things around easy running that actually seem hard, especially when you're first doing it. But even after you've been doing it for a while, there can still be days where easy running sometimes feels hard.
[00:02:13] Kevin: Yeah, I mean, the, the setup of it is that easy running is, is easy. That's why they call it easy running, right? Like that's, that's, it should not be a difficult. Uh, physical undertaking, yes. But sometimes we add this like difficult mental aspect to it, right? And, and therein lies the paradox,
[00:02:30] Angie: right? So when we talk about easy running, we're gonna first go into just the background of what we mean by easy running because what a lot of you might already know if you've been listening to the podcast for a while or if you're a part of our coaching program, is that we teach. Easy running and the 80 20 principle. And basically what this means is that most of your running should be done. 80% of your running should be done at an easy effort level. And when we talk about effort level, we're talking about on a scale of one to 10, [00:03:00] how hard does your running feel? This is basically the same thing as rating of perceived exertion or RPE so it's just a subjective measure and this is is just you coming up with a number of saying, you know, on a scale of one to 10, how hard or how easy did that run feel today? Because the mistake that so many runners make is that they go out and they push too hard on all of their runs, and this leads to fatigue, it leads to injury, and it leads to a lot like lack of progress because they're going out and they're pushing at that moderate to medium effort level on all of their runs, maybe even harder than that, and they're not seeing the progress that they want. They're not feeling good, they're not getting that runner's high. So many people talk about, right? So let's talk a little bit about this 80 20 principle and why it's so important.
[00:03:47] Kevin: Right? So, and one of the big aspects I think that, that we should focus on here is that the, the 80% part allows you to recover. You're going easy enough during that portion that you can recover, so that you go [00:04:00] fast enough on. The faster 20% portion. Right? Like that's a good aspect. And a lot of people are just like, no, no, no. If I, I just keep pushing, then I'll just keep getting faster. And it's like, no, because you're never capable of pushing fast enough. Mm-hmm. because you never allow your body to recover on the, the quote unquote easier days. Like a lot of people vary between like, Medium and a little bit harder than medium. Mm-hmm. , but it's never easier than medium. Like medium is the slow day. And what we're saying here is that that needs to pull back drastically to an actual, physically easy pace. Where you are are substantially pulled back from. And what a lot of people would consider like their, their quote unquote normal running pace. Right? Like if you have a pace that you just do every single time you go out there, it's probably medium, not easy.
[00:04:46] Angie: Yeah, we're guessing you're probably pushing too hard. And if you're wondering, the answer is probably yes. So, the way that you can measure easy running now, people always say, how do I know if I'm running easy enough? Do I check my heart rate? Do I check this? Do I check that? Because [00:05:00] we're so programmed to look at our watches or look at our devices and get confirmation that we're doing it correctly. But we want you to know that the best way to check and see if running feels easy is just to ask yourself, how does this feel to check in with your body? Am I feeling tense in any area of my body? Am I feeling tight? Am I feeling restricted? How does my breathing feel? Does it feel easy to breathe? Could I carry on a conversation with someone if I was running side by side with them, or if I was running and talking on the phone with them? Or could I sing the first line of the Star Spangled Banner or let it go? Whatever your favorite song is, that's a great way to check in to see if you are actually at that easy effort, level pace. So easy. effort On a scale of one to ten is like a level two out of ten that's what most of your running, 80% of your running should be done at a level two out of 10 on the effort level scale.
[00:05:54] Kevin: Great. there's several ways that people try and make this more complicated than it needs to be, and they try and go [00:06:00] outside of their body. They're like, but, but what heart rate is that? Yeah. Or there's like the, the talking test, the, the breath test. Mm-hmm. , you know, are you able to talk in, in paragraphs? Are you able to talk in phrases? Mm-hmm. . And the thing is, is that, and I was actually just listening to a podcast where they were debating the, the merits of being able to talk while you run. Mm-hmm. , they said, I think it drastically depends on who you're running with. Like, because you've told me this thing yourself, when you go off with like a, a group of, of your like good running friends. Yeah. The pace in your ability to carry on a conversation don't always kind of match up with each other. Sometimes that pace gets a little bit picked up and a little bit brisk. Mm-hmm. and the conversation does not really fade off. Mm-hmm. , because you guys are just chatting and going and going.
[00:06:44] Angie: But it does feel harder.
[00:06:45] Kevin: It feels a little bit harder.
[00:06:46] Angie: It feels harder to maintain the conversation. Sure. Like the conversation doesn't fall off, but it feels a little bit harder to maintain it.
[00:06:53] Kevin: And so that's where it comes into. Actually listening to your body, right? I'm guessing if you tried to like [00:07:00] maintain that normal conversation, as it starts feeling a little bit harder, your heart rate is also gonna climb because you're just not getting as much oxygen cuz you're chatting so much. Mm-hmm. So it's like, well, uh, it's getting a little bit faster, but we're still talking. My heart rate's climbing. Which thing do I pay attention to? Uh, inside you actually just pause for a second and think about how hard does this feel. Right? And give yourself an honest answer to that.
[00:07:23] Angie: Right. And so if you wanna know some of the benefits of Easy Running, some of the physiological benefits of Easy Running, we've got plenty of past episodes on this, and we can link to some of those in the show notes. But we like to think about easy running, kind of like the tortoise and the hair. Now this is a very, you know, trite and overused metaphor for an easy running, but it's overused for a reason, because it totally applies here. The tortoise is the one that does the slow and steady pace and ends up winning the race versus the hair that sprints and then needs to take a break and [00:08:00] sprints and then needs to take a break and then falls asleep under the tree because he is too wiped out and too tired. The same thing goes for our own running, like, and yes, it's a direct, you know, correlation here cuz they are in a race, which I, a lot of us runners do races, right? So we have to think. about The tortoise just take, took it nice and easy, nice and slow, and made it to the finish line faster than the hair did, and that's what it takes for long-term progress in your running. If you are like the hair, if you have a short-term goal, you might make some progress in the beginning using the hair strategy. And this is one of the things that confuses a lot of people because they end up seeing progress in the beginning of their running journey. And then at some point that progress fades off. And that's really when it's most important for you to flip over to that tortoise strategy. I would argue even before that. Yeah. You know, but, um, it's, it's a great metaphor. Another one that I like to think, Is the slow cooker versus the Instant [00:09:00] Pot. Okay, because we may, okay, let me just tell you, I love the Instant Pot. Okay? We are not sponsored. We are not sponsored. But I think that everybody needs to have an instant pot. This is like one of those game changers in our household, especially with busy schedule and kids and being able to just throw things in this pot and, and call it a day when. I first got the Instant Pot and we were looking through the recipe book. I noticed that we could make pulled pork in like two hours. Yeah. And I was like, this is amazing. Because normally pulled pork is eight hours in the slow cooker at least. Right? Like you, you buy the big pork shoulder. You stick it, put all the spices and whatever you want on there, stick it in the slow cooker and it's a good eight hours for that pork to be cooked and tender enough for you to just shred up.
[00:09:46] Kevin: Right? Like if you don't wake up and start doing stuff, you are not eating dinner off of that thing.
[00:09:49] Angie: Exactly. So it does take preparation, it ta takes forethought versus two hours in the Instant Pot you can get pulled pork as well. Sure. And yes, [00:10:00] the Instant Pot does work, but like Kevin, likes to point out to me it's not as good as the eight hour of pulled pork. Yeah. And I was like, at first when you made this point, and I'll let you kind of take over from here, because when you made this point, I was like, eh, pulled pork is pulled pork. And you're like, no, it's not like it's totally different.
[00:10:19] Kevin: Well, because it it does cook pork, and if you get a good pair of like strong forks, you can shred the thing, but it doesn't cook it as well as the slow cooking does. Yeah. Like it just, it, it misses part of it. Mm-hmm. , if you slow cook pork, the, the fat kind of melt into the rest of it. It's just delicious, you end up actually cooking everything. It's fine. It's healthy. It, it's, you're not gonna like get sick off the thing. But you're not getting all of the benefits. This is the same thing that happens. You can train yourself with hairstyle, workouts, you can do all sorts of stuff. Every workout you're gonna do, you're gonna do like 5K effort or slightly faster than 5K effort. It's like classic VO two [00:11:00] max training, and you're gonna put some recovery in between it, but you're gonna push the recovery as fast as you can. You get benefits for a few weeks, and then you're gonna be burnt like, but you will definitely improve over those few weeks. Mm-hmm. , the problem is, is that it's not sustainable. Mm-hmm. , that you're going to have to take some time off. You're gonna have to mentally and physically recover cuz what you're doing is just beating up your body mm-hmm. and never giving yourself time to recover from it. Yeah. Like even elite athletes training at like crazy pieces, training for Olympic medals in like the 5,000 meters, they don't put that much volume of their training. At 5K race pace because it just beats the body up. Yeah. So they, they have to rely on this huge amount of aerobic base. You know, these runners, Olympic milers are running for less than four minutes and they still put an enormous amount of mileage at paces that are like, twice the pace that they're racing at, like double the [00:12:00] pace that they're racing. Instead of sub four minutes, they're running over seven minute pace for an enormous amount of their volume because most of their race, even though you know, for most of us watching them run, it looks like they're sprinting. Mm-hmm. for them it's not, it's predominantly aerobic, as are all races that we're participating in. It's aerobic and running easy gives all the physical benefits to. Well, all of the aerobics, uh, benefits that you need.
[00:12:26] Angie: Right? And tho those things include increased energy production by increasing the number of mitochondria. Those are like the energy producing parts of our cells. When you do easy running, you actually increase the number of mitochondria. Your body forms, new mitochondria within the cells. You form new capillary networks within the body. The capillary networks are basically the highways that get blood from the heart into the muscle. Well into, like, down into the tissues, like the arteries take the blood out of the heart, they go into the blood vessels, and then like, everything kind of just keeps branching into smaller and [00:13:00] smaller networks from there. And the, those capillaries are the smallest level of blood vessels that help to bring more blood to the working muscles, to the working tissues. So if you have more blood flow, you can have more oxygen in there, you can get, you know, the, um, the capillaries can also help take the waste products away from those muscles. So all of your aerobic fitness and aerobic base. You are building so much of that. When you are doing that easy level training, when you are doing higher levels of training in that medium, moderate, and hard effort based training, yes you are building some aerobic endurance. Mm-hmm. just not as much it because it's not as efficient because your body is using different energy systems. That's another thing that you're doing during easy running is you're, you're helping your body use different energy systems within the, within itself to produce energy. Because there are different energy pathways. We can get energy from fat, we can get energy from sugars and glucose. We can get energy [00:14:00] from different pathways. And so, When we go easier and that allows us to have more oxygen available, which allows us to metabolize fat into energy, which produces a lot more energy than if we were to just metabolize the free floating glucose and sugar in the body.
[00:14:16] Kevin: It's like a direct correlation there to your eight hour slow cooker for two hour instant pot. You can actually use the fat to come up with delicious pulled pork as opposed to it's just still sitting there cuz you cooked it too fast for two hours.
[00:14:29] Angie: Perfect. So, We'll link in the show notes to some of our previous episodes on the importance of easy running, but hopefully you understand this by now, that most of your running should be done at this easy pace. Now, even though you understand this. Okay?
[00:14:45] Kevin: Here comes the paradox.
[00:14:46] Angie: Here comes the paradox. Easy can sometimes feel hard. So why does easy sometimes feel hard? Part of the reason I think that it does is this no pain, no gain [00:15:00] mentality that so many of us have been conditioned with this idea of work hard, play hard, of um, always hu the hustle culture. Okay. And striving to be more and more and more, doing more. It's also this culture of instant gratification that we find ourselves in. Right? Because everything is at our fingertips. Everything in the world happens so quickly, and we want our running results to be the same. And when we don't get those fast results, we feel disappointed. You know, when it's not happening as quickly as we want it to, or we feel impatient or we feel discontent, we feel like it's not good enough. We feel this need to do more, and. For most of us, or for a lot of us, this need to do more means, oh, well, I should probably just run more miles. I should probably just push harder on my runs. If I, if I'm not getting better, if I just do more or push harder, that will probably lead me to get better, because that's what we've been taught in other areas of our lives, even in other sports that you've played. [00:16:00] Right. even just thinking, okay, well, running is an athletic endeavor. I used to play sports, I used to play baseball. I used to play basketball. I used to play whatever sport it was. That's always what my coach said. You know, just push harder, hustle more, like just go out and give it 110%. But that's not what running requires for us to, number one, improve the, to the potential that we actually have and also to have a su a sustainable long-term relationship with running.
[00:16:30] Kevin: Yeah, that's what I was gonna say is it completely ruins your long-term adaptations. Yeah. You may get some short-term benefits. Mm-hmm. , like you may in fact improve for a little while, but over years you're not gonna get that compounding. Mm-hmm. because you're gonna get a little bit of benefit and then have to take time off and come right back down to starting point, and then you get a little bit of benefit, but then you need time off and you come right back to the starting point. Yeah. Whereas that slow process. Of the patience where you just keep putting in like a little bit of easy work and you just keep putting in the work [00:17:00] will, it compounds itself. It just keeps improving you year upon year upon year. That's, that's a whole lot. I mean, it, you're going to actually get a lot closer to your potential that way. Mm-hmm. than the start and reverse and start and reverse spent it.
[00:17:14] Angie: But it's hard for us to do that because that requires a lot of trust in the process as.
[00:17:19] Kevin: Yes. I mean this part really goes to that instant gratification. We want the results yesterday, and that's not what easy running is gonna do. Mm-hmm. like, it's not going to give you results by the end of the week. If you're listening to this now and you're like, oh yeah, I probably am doing a lot of my runs at Medium, I should shift it to easy. Mm-hmm. , this is not going to cause drastic changes by the end of the week. You might feel better though. You will probably feel better. So, I mean, it's got that, but it's not going to suddenly allow you to like PR in a 5K next weekend. Right. Because you turned your, some of your runs into an easy day. True. Like that's just, it's not coming cuz the results don't come that fast. Mm-hmm. . So you're right, there's such a level of, of trust mm-hmm. [00:18:00] in slowing down to get faster. And that sounds weird, but slowing down to get faster.
[00:18:04] Angie: It's really important though because I think that our world makes us impatient. We want things now, right? Yeah. Like if you think about it, Google puts everything at our fingertips. The internet, not just Google, but the internet puts all information at our fingertips. I know that when we're just, you know, sitting at the dinner table having family dinner. And we're trying to think of something. You know, we, we have a rule that there's no phones left at the dinner table, so it actually forces you to think. But how often are you trying to remember something or trying to think of the name for something or, you know, that TV show that we watched or what show, oh, that actress, you know, what show was he or she in? And you just grab your phone and you pull up IMDB and check it out. Right, right. Like it's. instead of just trying to remember it, we've become so conditioned to just find the information, find it right now, and that in a way that's made us very lazy in a way that's made us very impatient. Right? Like I was talking about the Instant Pot [00:19:00] before you can have a meal in 30 minutes or less, you know, like mm-hmm. as, as good as the Instant Pot is. And as much as I love it, it's also. An example of how impatient we have become. Like you can't shortcut quality pulled pork in an instant pot. You can make decent pulled pork, but you can't make eight hour slow cooker pulled pork in an instant pot. But we've been conditioned to push ourselves to strive bigger, to reach higher, to always be working and hustling. And I think that mentality makes it very hard to relax. It makes it very hard for us to think about the idea of letting it be easy, allowing ourselves time. to just let it be easy that we're not pushing harder. And I know that I am totally guilty of this, right? . So I'm sitting here behind this microphone preaching to the, you know, everybody out there of like, this is what we need to be doing. I'm preaching to myself too. [00:20:00] I know how weird and guilty I sometimes feel when I'm relaxing. Sometimes when I sit down, like I, hey, I have a hard time sitting down because if, if there's, there's things in the kitchen, I can always see something that needs to be done, right? I think all moms can relate to this. Maybe dads, I don't know, but I don't think it bothers you. I've asked you so many times, I'm like, does this bother you seeing all of this stuff like this? And you're like, no. So I know that other moms out there definitely, um, relate to me on this, but. I have a hard time just like sitting down and relaxing if I see things around the house that need to be done. If you know the counter's cluttered or if there's shoes that need to be put away, if there's a basket of laundry, literally on my dining room table right now, I'm looking over at my dining room table at a basket of laundry, right? So, There was a couple weeks ago where I decided I needed to relax. I was feeling stressed out, and I went outside on my patio and [00:21:00] I sat on my couch. I actually laid down and just sat there for an hour. I didn't have my phone, I had nothing. I had no book. I just sat there and just enjoyed the sun, the breeze, the, you know, sounds in the backyard and it was very relaxing. But at, at the beginning, it was quite challenging for me to just even get out there and do that.
[00:21:23] Kevin: Yeah, because it, as. If you head out and lay down on the couch outside one, I'm gonna get a little nervous that something happened the dog's gonna chase you and try and jump on top of you. As soon as you, you lay down, one of the kids is gonna need something. Mm-hmm. And they, they're gonna go to you instead of me. So like, it's going to be like, you almost have to set up the environment for you. Yeah. To be able to relax. Which happens on runs like this is you have to set up the the environment around you so that easy running can come more naturally. Maybe that is having a [00:22:00] group of people that you're able to chat with. Maybe that's having a group of people who you know are a little bit slower than you. So it's naturally gonna slow you down. Set yourself up. For success on easy running. Mm-hmm. , don't get into a running group where everybody's running just a little bit faster than you. All their prs are a little bit faster than you. It may be their easy pace, but it's not yours. Don't set yourself up for failure on easy running. Mm-hmm. . Um, one of the things you, you mentioned here was that we've been taught this whole strive bigger, reach higher. It's the Olympic theme. Yeah. Insidious altius 40th, faster, higher, stronger. Mm. So we all watch this and we're like, oh, look at the Olympic athletes doing all these amazing things. It's because they're pushing themselves. Not always. Yeah. Like so much of elite athletes days are spent on the recovery portion. You know, you look at like whatever the sport is. Mm-hmm. You look at basketball players, they've got a road trip between games. They, they're sitting themselves in giant ice bats. Mm-hmm. So that they can recover, so they can play at a high level the next [00:23:00] game. So much of this is based off of recovery. Mm-hmm. , you flip that over to a running perspective. If you have a hard workout the next day, you can't push yourself. It needs to be easy run depending on, maybe it's a cross training, maybe it's a walk, maybe it's a complete off day. You need that recovery. If you push hard one day, you have to recover the next and we don't like doing that. Yeah. We like, but if I take a recovery day, that's a day that I'm not able to push myself a little bit further. How am I gonna step forward if I'm, if I'm pulling back and recovering? Mm-hmm. . And what we're saying is it's that pullback that allows you to continue to move forward.
[00:23:37] Angie: Right. And like when you bring up Olympic athletes, I think that is a very interesting thing too, because they're only doing a couple of hard workouts per week. Yep. So it's not the hard workouts. Makes Olympic training so hard. I'm sure that's part of it, of course, but it's the consistency that they need day after day after day to do all the easy stuff. Yeah. To do the easy running. Yes. [00:24:00] Those miles when they go out and are, are running all of those miles. The training load is large because the volume is so high when you're training for like an Olympic marathon or even an Olympic track event. You have a, a high volume of running, but the majority of that is easy. It's just getting yourself out there to do that run or, you know, in Olympic athlete, um, Style, like they do two a days. Like they're tired, right? Like that's just, that's just a lot on the body. But the actual running itself is at an easy effort level.
[00:24:30] Kevin: Most of it. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Ellie Kokei is doing like 12 or 13 runs every week. Just thinking about that sounds tiring, but the pace on so many of them is not that bad. He gets in like three workouts during the week because of the number of runs he can do. Mm-hmm. , he'll, he can do a morning and an afternoon and a morning. If we're talking about, well, you wanna balance back and forth between an easy run and a and a harder run. If he's doing two every day, he could do an easy in the morning, a hard in the [00:25:00] afternoon. Mm-hmm. the next morning can be easy. He might be up for another hard one the next day. So just because of the sheer volume of what he's able to do, he can get in multiple workouts, but. I could casually run with him on several of these, not when it's like, oh, actually it's workout day. Right. Oh, well I can't hang with that pace. But on, on the, the afternoon run, he gets up and has a workout and then he goes and gets in an easy, like six to eight miles in the afternoon. Mm-hmm. I could probably hang with that and converse with him. because it's such a comfortable pace for him. I'd be pushing myself a little bit, but not that bad. Mm-hmm. like cuz his training pace on recovery runs. Yeah. He knows how easy that needs to be because he knows what else is coming.
[00:25:45] Angie: Yeah. And I think that takes us to really the paradox, where it, where it is, which is that easy running is both easy and hard. Like the effort level is easy. Maybe you know, the idea of [00:26:00] easy running, once you finally kind of wrap your head around it, you're like, okay, I'm looking forward to my easy runs. I don't have to push myself as hard, but it can also be hard. So what the heck do we mean by that? Right? And I think that a lot of times when people say, okay, well it's supposed to feel easy, so if. It feels hard, that means I shouldn't be doing it right or if, if I don't wanna do it, if it feels hard to get out the door, then I just don't do it. And that's like going in the complete opposite direction, thinking that it needs to feel easy all the time. And if it feels easy all the time, then again, you're still not going to make progress. You're probably gonna be plagued by inconsistency because there are going to be days where you don't wanna go out and do things, or you're gonna have to go out and do things that are hard or that easy run for some reason feels hard f for you mentally to go out and do it. It should not feel hard physically when you're out there running easy, but mentally it feels difficult for you to go out and do that easy run.
[00:26:52] Kevin: I mean, there's multiple reasons why it can feel difficult. I mean, obviously there's the mental aspect. . I didn't wanna go out for my run this afternoon. I just, I didn't, [00:27:00] it was super windy. Mm-hmm. , I hate running in wind. It's like my least favorite of the weathers to run in other than like wintery mix. Mm-hmm. . But it's like, it's my least favorite. So I specifically made my run, so it was an out and back. So I ran into a headwind for the first entire half of my run so that I could turn around and just have the wind at my back the entire way back in. Mm-hmm. So I knew that I would just be done with it instead of like the loop that I often do. it was slightly more physically taxing than what I normally would say easy. I wasn't, my heart rate wasn't flying. It was just kind of annoying because I had this wind in my face the whole time, so my form was slightly thrown. My stomach wasn't feeling great. These are things that make it like not perfectly magic, but it's still an easy run. Like overall, I felt completely in control the entire time. I, if there was somebody there and I was yelling because it was really, really windy, so I would've had to yell so they could hear me. I could have carried on a conversation, [00:28:00] but just tying my shoes and watching like the branches on the trees just blowing like crazy. It was physically difficult to just hit the button on my watch and start because I, I,
[00:28:12] Angie: it wasn't physically difficult. It was mentally difficult. Mentally difficult.
[00:28:14] Kevin: It was mentally difficult, yeah, for me to actually just start the thing because I knew it was going to be coming.
[00:28:19] Angie: And that's why easy running is both easy and hard because physically it's easy. But mentally it can be very difficult sometimes for us to maintain an easy pace. It can be very difficult for us to wrap our heads around the concept of easy running. It can be very difficult to maintain easy running. There's a lot of different things mentally that make, that can make easy running feel hard. So I think that instead of thinking to ourselves that we're doing this wrong and that like easy running should feel easy. We need to understand that the easy can be easy, and also the easy can sometimes feel hard because there's a difference between the physical side and the mental side.
[00:28:59] Kevin: Sure. [00:29:00] I, I feel like sometimes there is a somewhat difficult component physically. Like sometimes it's, it's,
[00:29:09] Angie: but then it's not an easy run.
[00:29:11] Kevin: So is the argument you should just add in some walk onto that thing? Maybe consider an off day? Yeah. Like if it starts getting physically hectic, physically hard.
[00:29:17] Angie: Yeah, because I think that's, that's really where. that you know, that line is, is like, is this actually an easy run and can the mental side of it actually make that run feel more physically difficult than it should feel?
[00:29:32] Kevin: I think that's a, that's a good question. Yeah. Is if you've got it so up in your head it's, especially we, I know this, we've got people. in, in the academy that are, are doing this. I struggled with this when I was first, like really seriously transitioning and, and slowing my pace down on easy runs is I had to think about it throughout most of my run. Yeah. To make sure that my pace was where it is. So the mental focus, I was mentally fatigued by the end of it. Yes. I was [00:30:00] not physically tired by the end of an easy run. I was mentally tired from focusing mm-hmm. and making sure that my pace did not keep inching up towards. Essentially like inertia. Yeah. Like the pace that I had done so many runs at before.
[00:30:14] Angie: Because your body knew it so well.
[00:30:15] Kevin: Yes. Yeah. My body was so fluid at that pace. It knew that pace and that pace was quite frankly, too fast for me. Mm-hmm. . But I had done it for so many years that the transition to a, a pace where my heart rate stays more under control, where I feel a whole lot more comfortable. It was. difficult. And so I I, at the time, I was tired a lot and it wasn't because I was physically straining myself. It was because easy runs were physically, were mentally taxing. Yes. And then the next day had a physical run that was physically taxing. Yes. Yes. So I, I wasn't getting as much, you know, recovery as I was supposed to because everyone, every run kind of had a difficult component to it.
[00:30:54] Angie: Exactly. And I think that's, I really wanted to go with this episode. Okay. It was [00:31:00] really understanding that like sometimes, especially at the beginning, easy running requires discipline. And so because of that discipline, because of that mental focus that you need to bring to it, to check in with yourself and say, you know, am I going easy enough? Do I need to slow down? Like you're constantly checking in with yourself. That can make it feel mentally harder. So does that actually take away from some of the easy? I think it does a little bit. The physical benefits that and the later mental benefits that we get from easy running, if we stick with it, if we learn it, if we understand what that does feel like in our bar body, are huge. And so, yes, it might feel tough in the beginning mentally, but part of the reason it feels so tough in the beginning mentally is because of all of the mind drama that we have around it too. Like I think that number one, It does require that discipline of, of like you checking in with yourself and trying to slow down and trying to learn this and, you know, um, checking in with your form and [00:32:00] making sure that your form's not totally different now, of course. Right. So there's that, that aspect of it. But then there's also the aspect of what you're making those numbers mean. There's the mind drama of, well, I already think I'm a slow runner. I don't wanna go slower. It's our thoughts about what it means to slow down. It's our ego that wants to pop its head up and say, why are you going slower? This is not making you better. This is not making you faster. And you having to remind yourself, yes, it is. I, I'm trusting this process. The science makes sense. It's worked for thousands and thousands of runners out there. This is the type of training that the elites and professionals use. Like, yes, this process works. I just have to stick with it long enough for me to actually start seeing those benefits.
[00:32:46] Kevin: Yeah. Cuz your rational brain understands that easier running is going to have physical benefits from it. Yeah. But your ego keeps popping up and saying, have you looked at the pace that your watch says? Right. Because it says you're slow. Right. That's what it's sa it's saying. Slow. Mm-hmm. . [00:33:00] And every time you glance at your watch, it's got numbers that pop up at you, but your ego doesn't view the numbers.
Your ego just looks down, sees the watch, and goes, oh yes. Slow. Mm-hmm. , like that's what's coming at you. Right. And it doesn't matter what the pace is because I experience this. At at numbers that my watch said Angie's experiences at numbers that her watch says, and they're not the same numbers. Right. But both of us somehow read the watches the same way. Mm-hmm. .
[00:33:23] Angie: Yeah. If Kevin's watch was on my wrist and I was reading his numbers, I'd be like, woo, ooh, speedy. The fastest person alive.
[00:33:31] Kevin: and I, I'm looking at this numbers, I'm like, Ooh, man, I am not moving fast today. Yeah. But. . It's not a matter of looking at what that watch says. It's not a matter of what the pace says.
It's a matter of does it actually feel easy? Mm-hmm. and physical environmental conditions mess with this. Wind messes with this. Is it super, super cold outside and you're wearing like four or five layers of clothing. Your pace is going to change during the course of the year. [00:34:00] Is it 105 degrees outside today it was windy and it felt like upper nineties. Like mid nineties. Oof. It was it was rough. Yeah. But especially once I turned around and was coming back in and the wind was at my back, so I wasn't annoyed by it. Cuz the annoyance of it, just the annoyance of the environment around you. Yeah. Could make the thing more difficult.
[00:34:19] Angie: That increases the mental load.
[00:34:20] Kevin: It increase, like whatever's gonna increase mental load Right. Is going to add difficulty to the run. Mm-hmm. just accept the run for what it. And say, all right, I'm gonna feel comfortable on my run today. Mm-hmm. , are you doing a hilly route? Did the hill get really steep walk so that it, overall, this feels like a nice, comfortable thing.
[00:34:38] Angie: Yeah.
[00:34:39] Kevin: Now, here's the thing is, does every single second of your easy run need to be at an easy pace? Or it's worthless? Like what about that little incline that you have in the middle of your neighborhood loop that you do? Are you able to run up that thing? Mm-hmm. . What if my heart rate spikes as I go up the hill?
It's gonna be fine. It's gonna be fine. You the stress about, oh, if my [00:35:00] heart rate goes too high, I have to make sure I walked up the hill, otherwise my heart rate gets too high and then it won't gain any of the benefits. Now you're gonna get all the benefits. Mm-hmm. , just run up the hill and don't worry about it your heart rate's gonna come right back down. When you go down the other side, it's all gonna be fine.
[00:35:12] Angie: Or if you want walk up the hill, right, because I think's so true. I think that we make things more difficult because of all the mind drama. Surrounding it. Like we put so much mind drama and chatter onto these things and what does this mean and am I doing this right? And I don't wanna get this wrong? And like we think that we're getting graded on our running and that's just not how it works. Right? Like, If the overall, if that run feels easy, then you're doing it right. If you check in with yourself and you're like, yeah, that felt easy. When I ended that run, I felt like I could keep going. I did. I did not feel like I needed to just lie down on the grass and take a breather. When I ended that run, I felt like I could get on the phone and have a complete conversation with my sister, or I could get onto my Instagram [00:36:00] stories and film a, a thing like I did this morning on at Real Life Runners over on Instagram. Like, I literally stopped my watch, hit Save, pulled out Instagram, and then like f filmed like a, an Instagram story because I had a thought during my run. It was about this actually that I wanted to share, so I could just casually do that. I felt fine. Right. I didn't feel exhausted. I didn't feel wiped out. I just felt like, okay, now my run is done. Right. So were there points during that run that might have felt a little bit harder than L two? Probably. You know, like I, I got a little faster at some points. I got a little slower at some point, but it all balances out. You know, it, it all. , um, ends up feeling easy when you look at the run as a whole.
[00:36:45] Kevin: Right. And I mean, here's the other thing. Uh, the 80 20 principle is rooted in like science Yeah. And exercise physiology. And exercise physiology, when they do the 80 20 principle and they're trying to break it down, it's not r p e of one [00:37:00] through 10, they take all of the. Rating of perceived exertions and breaking into three categories.
So we talk about L two because it is most important that people slow down on their easy runs, right? If you have a choice between pushing slightly faster, uneasy, and going easier and easy, most people, almost every single person listening is going to have benefits of slowing down their easy run. But from like a sciencey perspective, , easy running includes accidentally slide into L three and four. Yeah, it actually fits in that you should not push all of your easy runs. This is not not a suggestion that all of your easy runs should now slide into L four. They should, in general, be it L two cuz it allows you to recover. It allows you to actually push on hard days, right? , if you accidentally slide up for a little bit, it's gonna be okay. Mm-hmm. as long as you finish the run and you feel comfortable.
[00:37:54] Angie: Yeah. And your body also doesn't know the difference between 80 20 and 81 19 [00:38:00] or 83 17. Right. Like it doesn't have to be so down to every single mile and every single minute. People sometimes ask me that too, and I'm like, it, it's, yes, there is a science to it. Absolutely. But there's also an art to running. There's, there's what you know according to your research and to your textbooks, and there's also what you learn with experience. And it's the same thing with, uh, you know, as a physical therapist, there was a ton of things that I learned in my courses and that prepared me well to go into the clinic. But it wasn't until I went into the clinic and actually started treating patients that I took that knowledge and got to actually use it and apply it and see what works and what doesn't work. What works in theory does not always work in practice. Mm-hmm and what works in theory sometimes works in practice for one patient, but has no effect on another patient. Right. And so you have to be able to tweak that. And so we can't just say every single runner should do [00:39:00] exactly 80% at easy and exactly 20% at heart. Sometimes it's, the ratio is more like 90 10. Sometimes it's 85, 15. Sometimes if you are coming back from an injury or an illness or an extended time period off, maybe you used to be 80 20, but maybe you need to start at 90 10. Maybe you need to do more of your running at that easy level. With less at the harder level, and then gradually start working your way back to that 80 20.
[00:39:25] Kevin: Yeah. I mean, it, it's all over the map. Yeah. Let, let's be honest, like we cannot say everybody needs to do it. What we can actually say is 80 20 is not going to be perfect for every person listening.
[00:39:36] Angie: Yeah.
[00:39:36] Kevin: Like we can definitively say that like the research was done on. Essentially sub elite athletes that were probably, I, I don't know the research off the top of my head of the specific studies that were coming from, but if I had to ballpark it, I'm gonna say sub elite cyclists that were 25 year old men.
Mm-hmm. So unless all of you listening are sub elite cyclists who are 25 year old men, you [00:40:00] might not perfectly fit the bell curve. Yeah. And even within the study, that's where the middle of the bell fit. Mm-hmm. There are, there are always outliers and. A lot of this comes in from like talking to coaches that coaches are kind of falling into this plan. Yeah. And then the scientists try and prove why 80 20 should work. Mm-hmm. , but there's, there's new stuff coming out and some people are starting to add in a little bit more towards the, the 20 and boost that up a little bit. And other people are going the other direction and shrinking the 20 down. Mm-hmm. So you have to find what works for you. I think that 80 20 is a decent place to start. It's a good place to start it. It's the same thing when we talk about like cadence. Mm-hmm. 180 is a lovely number to throw out there, but it's not a magic number. Right. There are people who are much more efficient with a running cadence of 165. Yeah. 170 and other people at 190.
[00:40:47] Angie: And it also matters what you like and what you enjoy. Like I like, that's a very good point, right? Like, I like speed workouts, so I'm. Tend to default more to those types of runs and workouts. I've gradually [00:41:00] over lots of years of running, started to appreciate the easy running more and do incorporate that more than I used to into my running for sure. But Kevin definitely defaults to more of an easy running. Yeah. You know, he You like those a lot more. I used to absolutely hate them. I thought they were so stupid. But now I appreciate them. Now I like them. I obviously know the benefit of them. So it depends on your preference there as well. So obviously you guys can see. There's a whole lot of nuance when we get down to this, but the main point that you need to take away from this episode is that easy running should feel easy, most of the time. You need to, you know, most of your training should be done at that easy physical level, but sometimes that physical easy running can give you some mental challenges sometimes that, you maintaining that easy pace can feel mentally challenging, that's where you just have to start managing your mind around your thoughts about easy running because all of the mental difficulty.[00:42:00]
Comes from your thoughts and comes from your belief system and your sense of identity and your ego and all of the mental side of running that wants to shut you down on the physical side. So it's really about managing your mind, managing your thoughts around easy running the and that will help. Easy running, feel easier both physically and mentally.
[00:42:22] Kevin: And I mean, once you start managing your thought on easy runs, yeah. Then you can start managing your thoughts when the running gets a little bit more difficult. Yes. Like you're in the middle of a race. The same trick of managing your thoughts to say easy running feels easy. And that's good. Is the same kind of skills that you're gonna be able to say in the middle of a 5K of like, this is physically challenging and that's good. Mm-hmm. like what? Physical sensation is right. You have to be able to then mentally follow that with, and that means this is going well for me.
[00:42:49] Angie: Exactly. Because easy does not just mean doing whatever you want and avoiding the things that are difficult, like we need to do the difficult things as well. It just means that we stop fighting ourselves [00:43:00] in the process. It, it means that we decide ahead of time. Okay. Most of my runs are gonna be easy and there are gonna be times that I'm not gonna feel like running easy, like I know that when you're feeling good out on a run, and you know that's supposed to be an easy run, but the weather's great and your body feels good, it's difficult to stay at an easy pace sometimes because you naturally wanna just speed up. But understanding the purpose, understanding what. , um, uh benefit you are gaining from that run is really important for you to maintain the discipline to stay at that easy pace.
[00:43:32] Kevin: Yeah, no, that's a really good point of the discipline to stay easy when you know, you, you had a hard workout yesterday Yeah. Where you have a hard workout tomorrow or something. This run sometimes needs to stay easy and, and that might be a little tricky.
[00:43:44] Angie: And I think that's where the challenging part comes in for those of us that have been doing this for a while. Yeah. Right. Because like easy running can be difficult in the beginning when you first learn about it, when you're first trying to implement it, but just because you've been doing it for five years or 10 years doesn't mean you're gonna be perfect at it either. Like that mind [00:44:00] drama is. Still gonna come in and you know, needing to kind of pull yourself back sometimes is still going to happen.
[00:44:05] Kevin: That's true. When I turned around, suddenly the wind was at my back. I'm like, well I should naturally be going faster because the wind's at my back now. Right? Like, no, no, you don't have to go faster because Yeah, you're also getting hotter cuz it's 90 plus degrees outside and, and. There's a whole drama going on today. Yeah. And that's what happens. It's, it's running it. And a lot of running takes place in between your ears, not just on your feet.
[00:44:25] Angie: Absolutely. So if you guys want some help with your running, we offer both group coaching and one-on-one coaching options. So if you know this makes sense to you, if you like this podcast, you'd probably would be a good fit for our coaching program because we like to help you become a physically and mentally stronger runner.
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So this has been The Real Life Runners podcast, episode number 299. Now get out there and run your life.