>Running 101>Pfitz Marathon Training: Terms & Confusion
FWIW, I probably have the distinction of having used Pfitzinger plans more times than any other RA poster. I'd have to go count, but I think it's more than 10 times. Not that that makes me an expert, but I am comfortable with Pfitzinger's terminology, and I have been happy with the results of using his plans.
To me GA and recovery are two very different kinds of workouts. GA is a bread-and-butter workout, solid effort, but short of any kind of speedwork. Recovery is as slow as necessary to feel easy. This is a distinction that doesn't really exist in many other training plans.
To put some numbers on it, I'm a 3:00ish marathoner, and GA is 7:30 - 8:00 pace on the road (slower on trails). Recovery is never faster than 8:30, and often around 9:00.
Modified to add my paces:
GA/"easy": running side of easy running (for me 6:15 - 7:15 pace: note the wide range; I will touch on this whole range during the course of almost all of my easy runs -- first mile is usually in the 8min range due to the "experienced runner" factor )
recovery: easy side of easy running (for me 7:30-8:30 pace: note the wide range)
steady: (5:45 - 6:30: still pretty wide range, again most of these runs will begin at 6:30ish and come down to 5:45ish)
MP: (5:45-6:00ish, depending on fitness / dream state / recent workouts / consultation with crystal ball)
Depending on your own idiosyncrasies, these paces can vary.
The Logic of Long Distance
I think you got some good feedback here.
As others have said, recovery and easy pace are more about feel. When I follow it, the gauge I try to use for recovery runs is I want to run so easy that it feels like I didn't even run today. It's a rest day in disguise. Last cycle, when I think I was probably in sub-3:20 shape, this was a little north or south of 9:15 pace for me. For general aerobic runs, I would try to put a little more effort into it. What would feel easy if I wasn't marathon training? This would usually be just under 9:00 pace.
As an aside, I don't find McMillan's training paces all that useful. I like the race pace calculator, though.
ETA: If you want to see how I paced those runs, my log is still public. See January-April. I call GA runs "Maintenance" in my log. That's also how I think of them - bread and butter, not too fast or too slow.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb