Content of the material
What Does It Mean to Run Slow?
Your own version of “slow” can be thought of as conversation-pace running. If you can pretty easily have chat with a buddy, then that’s your slow speed.
To give you an idea of the difference in fast and slow for two different runners, here’s the kind of information in the pace charts used by Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) coaches:
- Say you can run a 5K in 30 minutes, that’s a pace of 9:40 (fast); your easy long run should be 12-minute miles (slow).
- If you can run a half marathon in under 2 hours (about 9-minute miles), a slow run would be 10:22; you could expect to run a 5K in 25:30, at an 8:13 pace.
If you’re more apt to track your heart rate on runs, a gentle pace would likely find your heart rate at approximately 110 to 140 beats per minute.
These numbers may give you some idea of where you should be if you keep track of your time, pace, or heart rate. If not, don’t worry. These differences also relate to your effort and breathing—which relates back to the idea of being able to hold a conversation. If you think you’re the slowest runner out there (lots of people think this, but there’s no reason to compare yourself to anyone else) and still breathing hard and feeling like you’re going all out most of the time, then you aren’t going slowly enough at times.
Respect the Weather
During my first visit to Washington, DC I attempted a tempo workout in 90 degree heat with virtually 100% humidity (I could see the water vapor in the air).
After 5 minutes of hard running, my chest felt like it was being compressed by an invisible vise. I was soaked from head to toe with either sweat or dew – I couldn’t be sure – and I kept thinking the paved path I was on had magically turned into soft sand.
After another minute, I quit. I had never before experienced such brutal conditions and stopped a workout so suddenly.
Combine running in the heat with humidity and strong sun exposure and you have a recipe for misery and suffering. There’s no way around it: you will simply be running slow in summer conditions. And when they’re severe enough, they’re more challenging than being at 7,000 – 8,000 feet elevation!
But running in the winter has its perils as well: ice, snow, slick surfaces, and sub-zero temperatures can all conspire against you. While it’s not as difficult as summer training, running through Arctic conditions isn’t ideal.
No matter what the weather throws at you, it always helps to run by feel and worry about time and focus on effort, rather than distance and pace.
Why We Plateau in Training
Recently, I got this note:
So, my big question is “have I ever run a step in my life??” I’m almost embarrassed about my dismal results from Sunday’s race. I didn’t even look at my “official” time, it was that bad. I thought it started out pretty good but I just did not have any energy. It was just an incredibly sucky performance. Anyway, I’ve been reviewing my stats from the last several weeks and am seeing a lot of this crappy work. It’s like I have no juice in my legs.
Does this sound familiar?
Have you ever been running just fine and then all of a sudden you have no juice in your legs? Like you can run 9:45 miles just fine but if you try for 9:30 it’s like the energy was drained from your body at the starting line?
Most runners inevitably hit a plateau or feel like they’re working hard but going nowhere. The culprit is usually a combination of lifestyle, weather, and training issues.
Update your drivers
Make sure you have the latest drivers for your computer hardware, especially the latest video drivers. Having out-of-date drivers can cause an assortment of issues, including slow performance.
Verify that the Device Manager has no conflicts. If any exist, resolve these issues as they could be causing your problem.
How to Run Slower
Whenever you start running, it’s best to start slowly. Run at conversation pace for about 10–15 minutes to give your body a chance to warm up. Conversely, it’s great to end your workout with at least five minutes easy to cool down until your heart rate is below 100 beats per minute. This cool down time allows the blood that has traveled to your extremities during exercise to return to the heart and the brain.
Standard advice from RRCA coaches is to schedule no more than two to four “efforts” per week. An effort is considered a speed session or a long run as well as demanding cross-training sessions. Depending on how many days per week you run, the other days should be slower, conversation-paced running. This means 75–80 percent of your weekly mileage should be slower running at a pace your can comfortably talk.
If you have a high weekly mileage, it’s best to include a variety of distances. Including a short, easy run (less than 45 minutes) for example, is good for recovery and helps flush waste from tired muscles and builds strength.
Running a medium-distance run at a slow pace (45–90 minutes), allows your body to build strength without too much stress, both physically and mentally. This also increases your body’s ability to transfer and use oxygen.
A long, slow run (90-plus minutes) teaches the body to improve glycogen storage as well as increases the ability to handle discomfort.
Besides all of these varied benefits, you are also avoiding one of the number-one risk factors for injury: Going too fast or too far too soon.