Misconceptions abound when it comes to easy running.

The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project training plan has been available in some form on the group’s website for years, but those plans offered a weekly overview, not the daily workouts themselves. With the new book Hansons Marathon Method spelling out the Hansons approach, runners have access to Hansons workouts for easy runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, long runs, and strength workouts.

Want to try out some Hansons workouts? Over the next few weeks, we’ll share the Hansons approach to easy runs, speed workouts, and tempo runs.

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In Defense of the Easy Run

Misconceptions abound when it comes to easy running. Such training is often thought of as unnecessary, filler mileage. Many new runners believe that these days can be considered optional because they don’t provide any real benefits. Don’t be fooled; easy mileage plays a vital role in a runner’s development. Every run doesn’t need to be—and should not be—a knock-down, drag-out experience. Easy runs dole out plenty of important advantages, without any of the pain, by providing a gentler overload that can be applied in a higher volume than in SOS workouts. This keeps the body in a constant state of slight disruption, keeping you from getting injured while simultaneously forcing your body to adapt to stress to increase fitness.

Easy Running Guidelines

An easy run is usually defined as one that lasts anywhere between 20 minutes and 2.5 hours at an intensity of 55–75 percent of VO2max. Since most of us don’t have the means to get VO2max tested, the next best thing is to look at pace per mile. The Hansons Marathon Method calls for easy runs to be paced 1–2 minutes slower than goal marathon pace. For example, if your goal marathon pace is 8:00 minutes per mile, your easy pace should be 9:00–10:00 minutes per mile. While easy running is a necessary part of marathon training, and controlling your pace is key to its effectiveness, be sure not to run too easy. If your pace is excessively slow, you are simply breaking down tendon and bone without any aerobic benefits.

Easy Run Workout

Do your normal warm-up and go run between 20 minutes and 2.5 hours. Do shorter easy runs early in training and longer easy runs in the later weeks. Always keep your pace 1–2 minutes slower than goal marathon pace.

RELATED: Interview With Hansons Marathon Method Author Luke Humphrey

Adapted with permission from Hansons Marathon Method, now available in bookstores, running shops, and online. Download a preview chapter from velopress.com.

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