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The Benefits of Long Easy Paced Runs | Find Your Stride | Edinburgh Podiatrist

Solitary runner on a long easy paced run
Long easy paced runs: Taking time out

As a distance runner, long easy paced runs are a staple session. These endurance-building runs offer a multitude of benefits that go beyond just physical strength. The physiological benefits of endurance exercise already highlight the advantages of incorporating long easy paced runs (or any prolonged but steady exercise) into one's exercise regimen regardless of your experience, speed or capability. Understanding the science behind aerobic fitness can shed light on why these runs are so essential.

Long easy paced runs primarily target the development of aerobic fitness. Unlike high-intensity workouts that focus on anaerobic fitness, long easy paced runs engage the aerobic energy system. This system primarily utilises oxygen to generate energy, allowing the body to endure sustained physical activity. The physiological changes that occur during long easy paced runs promote enhanced aerobic fitness.

When we engage in a long easy paced run, several key adaptations take place. Firstly, our body increases its mitochondrial density. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, responsible for producing the energy required for all bodily functions. The more mitochondria we have, the more efficiently our body can utilise oxygen and provide energy for exercise. Long easy paced runs stimulate the growth of mitochondria in our muscle cells, resulting in improved endurance.

Another adaptation that takes place during long easy paced runs is increased capillarization. Capillaries are the tiny blood vessels that surround our muscles, carrying oxygen-rich blood necessary for energy production. Regular long easy paced runs cause the formation of new capillaries, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our muscles. Consequently, this improves our overall aerobic capacity and allows us to sustain physical activity for more extended periods.

Furthermore, long easy paced runs contribute to the development of type I or slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are responsible for endurance activities, as they are highly resistant to fatigue. Through the repeated contractions and elongations experienced during long easy paced runs, it is thought that our bodies develop more slow-twitch muscle fibers, enabling us to maintain a steady pace for extended durations.

In addition to the physical benefits, long easy paced runs have several mental advantages. Engaging in these runs provides an opportunity for mental relaxation and stress relief. The lower intensity and slower pace can help to promote a meditative state of mind, allowing us to clear our thoughts and alleviate stress. Moreover, long easy paced runs boost the secretion of endorphins, our body's natural "feel-good" hormones, leading to an improved mood, decreased anxiety, and an overall sense of well-being.

In conclusion, long easy paced runs play a vital role in enhancing aerobic fitness. The science behind these endurance-building runs highlights the numerous physiological adaptations that occur, such as increased mitochondrial density, capillarisation, and slow-twitch muscle fiber development. Additionally, these runs offer mental benefits, including stress relief and mood elevation. Incorporating long easy paced runs (or any aerobic based activity) into our exercise routine can lead to improved physical and mental well-being. So, lace up your running shoes, find a scenic route, and embrace the multitude of benefits that await you on your next long easy paced run.

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