Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips, Tools for Runners

running coachDuring my drive for Boston last year, I distinctly remember hammering through nearly every run, thinking to myself, “If I can” t handle a six mile run at x:xx pace, how can I expect to run an entire marathon at that pace?” As race day grew closer, the aches and pains of the effort began to make themselves known. And when race day arrived and I finished a full 15 minutes off my intended pace, my coach and I came to the realization that I” d been training much too hard. The solution? Slow down.
For distance runners, the requirements to put in large weeks worth of mileage can really take their toll. From ” junk miles” to the critical speed and long run workouts, the effort can have cumulative negative effects. Instead of pushing hard for each day’s workout, try taking it easy on those ” junk mile” workouts. There are several benefits to slowing the pace of your runs.

  1. Rest. With the high mileage required for marathoning, your body is going to be looking for every opportunity to rest. Taking it easy on a run will allow you to get your miles in without wearing yourself out each day.
  2. Injuries. One of the most noticeable by-products of pushing too hard are the ever present over-use injuries. Runner” s knee, IBT syndrome, planter fascitis, shin splints, etc. Many of these over-use injuries can be treated and often avoided by simply taking it easy on your non-critical days.
  3. Speed. Your speedwork is the key to hitting your desired pace on race day. Speedwork, whether done as intervals, fartleks, hill repeats or marathon pace finishes to long runs, is your critical workout. Go slow on your other weekly runs and you”ll tackle these workouts with the juice to show your run just who the boss is.

Slowing down can be a tough proposition for those of you who are super gung-ho to turn in a smoking new PR. Use the following tools to help you out.

  1. Heart Rate Monitor. Tracking your heart rate during a workout is the most tried and true way of ensuring that your not putting out too much effort for a run. Learn your max heart rate and what your optimal zones are for different efforts and you won’t go wrong.
  2. GPS Watches. Another sure fire way of ensuring you’re on pace, GPS watches like the Garmin Forerunner or calibrated solutions like the Nike+, will do the trick. Most have features to alert you when you go over a certain pace. While they don’t have the tie-in to how hard your heart is working, they will give you constant feedback on how quickly you’re moving.
  3. Old School. The Ludite in you doesn’t want to be bothered by all that technology? Try taking a stopwatch to a track or choose a route with known distances. Use timed loops around the track or known splits on a course to keep track of your pace.
  4. So, give your body a break. Slow down, because you’re moving too fast.

About Jeff Smith

Initially running to escape his two younger sisters, Jeff has been running as far back as he can remember. Through high school, the Marines and Super Hero Training School, Jeff kept at the left-right-left right but without focus. In 1999 he stepped up to the challenge of organizing a running group, began informal coaching and applied some goals to his own running. Now with several respectable distances and times under his belt, he spends most of his time running for the pure joy of it, encouraging other runners to tap into their potential, saving kittens stranded in trees and helping the elderly cross the street.

  1. Mark Iocchelli on October 24th at 2:51 pm

    Heart rate + some kind of distance+pace measuring are the nirvana of people like me who have no sense of what effort should be on easy versus hard runs.

    Nicely said, Jeff.

  2. Jeanne on October 24th at 7:06 pm

    boy, i wish i’d known all these a few months ago! never too late i guess. (Well, actually, it really IS too late right at the moment.) But thanks! Great info!

  3. Adeel on October 24th at 10:28 pm

    To the old school method, I’d add that after checking your splits every 200 metres, you will eventually know how a 44-second 200 feels and how it’s different from running a few seconds either way. I think nothing can replace a strong connection with your body.

  4. Use the Karvonen Method to Determine Your Heart Rate Training Targets » Complete Running Network on October 27th at 6:29 am

    […] And how does all this help you become a better runner? Take a look at this article by Jeff for the answer and then give the formula a try. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. —————— Was this article a bit ahead of the learning curve for you? Don’t worry because next week we’ll talk about the basics around Resting Heart Rate, Maximum Heart Rate and how to measure them. Technorati Tags: Exercise, Fitness, heart rate monitoring, karnoven, Running, training, training zones […]