February 25


How to use Easy Weeks to Improve your Running

By Conor Graham

February 25, 2015

Avoid Running Plataeus, cardiovascular exercise, Cheltenham, Cheltenham Running, Injury Prevention, Periodisation, Progressing your Running, Running, Tapering

If you've put in some good training then an easy week can help your body provide the gains you're training for.

Why would you take an Easy Week?

We all know that our bodies need recovery in order to reap the benefits of training. Many runners stop training when they’re feeling run down after some hard training but there is a better way. Taking an easy week does not mean we stop running, simply that we drop the speed and or distance to a level we've completed recently. A typical easy week in the CRC Progressive Programme means we go back and carry out a very similar week of training to that performed two weeks ago. Given that two weeks before every easy week is a moderate week, our members get to feel how much they’ve improved every easy week.

Pre Workout

Coach: “Tonight we’re carrying out the same workout as a fortnight ago”

Athlete: “But that wasn’t an easy workout!”

Post Workout

Athlete: “I can’t believe how much easier that was tonight!”

Thanks to our bodies adapting to the hard week, a moderate workout which may have been an 8 out of 10, performed in Easy Week becomes a 6-7 out of 10.

When to use Easy Weeks

The typical person who get's back into running (or practically any form of exercise) trains hard for 3 weeks then hits a wall. This wall could be in the form of:
  • injury
  • illness
  • lack of motivation
Instead of pushing through the wall they should be giving themselves an easy week. Easy Weeks are usually planned soon before a race and called a Taper but the easy week we're referring to is different. This Easy Week should be scheduled following a Hard Week or a group of moderate/hard weeks. It is timed to allow your body to recover without dropping the number of runs per week.

How to give yourself an Easy Week

Following a period of moderate and hard weeks, simply look back on what you've done in a recent moderate week and repeat. If there are no events in the next few weeks then run the same number of sessions you usually would, keeping the format the same (eg, tempo, intervals, hills, long) but back off the speed and or distance by around 5%. A good running programme should provide an easy week every 3-5 weeks.

Using the Easy Week for Weight Loss

Looking to shed some weight before an event? Eat well, take an easy week and feel the weight drop off. Our bodies do not like to let go of their precious energy stores (fat) when we’re in a hard period of training. The easy week reduces stress on the body and can stimulate the body to let go of some weight it's been holding on to. If weight loss is a goal for you then ensure your diet reflects the lower calorie expenditure.

Consistency of the Easy Week

Just like a Hard or Moderate week, the Easy Week shouldn't be limited to Running. If you're also training in the gym or have other activities then scale them back to ensure you get full benefits of your easy week.

How often do you get an Easy Week?

Is it planned or forced due to injury, illness or motivation dips?

Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

Talk to our Head Coach about whether Cheltenham Running and Walking Club is  right for you.