During 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
So, give your body a break. Slow down, because you’re moving too fast.