Run slow, get fast!

Day 19 of the December-5k-a-day challenge and pretty sure you’ve gone through an array of emotions… something like “I feel incredible”, “I am so speedy” to “my legs are led, why are they so heavy, why aren’t they moving, am I actually going slower than yesterday?”.  All of this is perfectly normal and the 5k-a-day challenge is definitely one for endurance not speed.

However, in this latest blog from Rebel Trainer, Grant, he explains that running slow can indeed make you go faster! Reading the title or that sentence, you may have a few questions, or possibly be confused as to how going slow can help you get faster… Luckily Grant is here to blow your Rebel-running-mind!

Tell me more Grant…

The main reason for running at a slower pace is to focus on working your aerobic system, which is basically how efficiently your body uses oxygen when you’re exercising. The main way this will make you faster is that it helps your lungs transfer oxygen to the blood more effectively, which in turns lets you work your muscles at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. Boom! This also works when you are doing speedwork (read the speedwork blog here) by allowing you to push yourself harder in those sessions and then allowing you to recover quicker.

But how do I run slower?

There are a few ways you can try to run slower, the first is to run by how you feel –  if it feels too tough, slow down. Secondly, the more scientific way is to use a heart rate monitor and try to keep your heart rate at 70-80% of your Max Heart Rate (MHR), with 75% being about ideal. This is the optimal range to improve your aerobic endurance as going above 80% means you are training other energy systems as well. Basically, anything above 80% means everything starts working together to keep that pace up… you want to keep between 70% to 80% to be able to train the aerobic system and not rely on everything else pulling you through too.  

To figure out your Max Heart Rate you can either do a MHR test, or (less accurately) take your age away from 220 (for example a 40 year old would have a MHR of 180).

The third way is to find a pace where you can hear your breathing but are still able to speak in complete sentences, if you are using a GPS watch then you can check the pace off of that and make a note of it to remember for when you are doing those long easy runs.

Once you have an idea of what pace you are going to be running at, then you’re set to #RunRebelRun. It’s best to make these aerobic runs medium to long distances in order to get the most out of it. Plus, if it’s a longer run than your goal race distance, you’ll gain a mental edge knowing that you’re more than capable of covering the distance!

When do I run slower in my training plan?

Depending on how many kms (or miles) you’re covering in a week, you ideally want up to 80% of your distance being run at this easy and comfortable pace. This means your other 20% is free to be made up of speedwork, tempo runs, etc. This balance ensures that you are going to be able to recover properly and that you are not pushing yourself harder than your body can handle.

Any questions for Grant? Post in the Rebel PT private page or speak to him at bootcamp. #RebelLife