Running Slow – Is It the Best Way To Train?
|Train For Half Marathon!|
Running slow at an aerobic rate (keeping to a low heart rate, during which mostly fat is burned) is great for everyday conditioning. But how does it fare when you train for half marathon, or any other race for that matter? Well, I’ve tested out the theory. Although I have been running regularly for nearly 18 months now, I have retracted back to my roots about 6 weeks prior to my half marathon race. There was no more quick runs, just a nice comfortable pace.
Dropping back the pace
As I ran more and more, I started focusing more on speed rather than just the enjoyment of running. When I took up running, my main objective was to get extra energy. That accomplished, I pursued more, however, after a while, something was missing. That something was the pleasure of the run. No more did I take in the sights or did I stay in tune with what my body was telling me – the focus was just on the time. So, I decided to change this – and at a key stage of my half marathon training. I had already set myself a time target for the race of 1h40m. That means under 7m40s per mile pace (4:45 per km). Usually, you train at a faster pace on a shorter distance, I on the other hand was going to train at a slower pace. A much slower pace. My average pace in the last 6 weeks was 9 minutes per mile (5:40 per km).
What running at a slower pace does, it conditions your body to move but also to tap into an abundant source of energy – fat! Also, it allows you to focus more on your breathing – taking deeper breaths. This is very beneficial for long races. Hence, from the perspective of the body being ready for a half marathon, I was good to go.
I started off slightly slower than the average pace – that was my strategy for the first 3 miles. And then, I picked it up a notch. Maintaining the pace below 7:40 per mile for the remainder of the race. My legs were doing exactly what they were supposed to do, my breathing was calm. I did notice though, that I lacked the extra push near the end. But other than that, it was a textbook run.
Train at a slow speed, adding one quicker run per week (to get that extra push when needed). Training fast is not necessary to achieve fast results. The objective of training for half marathon is to condition the body to be comfortable with movement and be able to tap into fat resources for energy. Slow runs allow you to focus more on breathing as well. During the race I ran alongside people who sounded like they were about to spit their lungs out. Fair enough, they ran at the same pace as I did, but tell me, who benefited more and who enjoyed the race more?
Try this method for yourself and share your experience here.
Oh, by the way, I did hit my target – 1h38m56s!!!