How can running slow 80% of the time make you dramatically faster?

How can running slow 80% of the time make you dramatically faster?

Running Slow could be the key to you Run Faster

It may seem ludicrous but running slow may be something you need to consider in your training

It may seem completely ludicrous but the more literature I read, the more I believe that you need to run slow in order to run faster. *DISCLAIMER* this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any fast running at all, but you should perhaps consider including more slow runs into your training.

A young me would have laughed in face of anyone suggesting that to get faster, you needed to running slower and take rest and easy days seriously. It’s bred into you from an early age that every run needs to be a race. Or perhaps I needed to pay more attention to the story of the tortoise and the hare?

So why is everyone talking about running slower to run faster?

80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald

Matt Fitzgerald’s is a great running book to read if you’re the type of runner who puts in 100% effort on every run. The book explains using different running paces and intensities to boost their performance. Matt Fitzgerald suggests that by breaking your training into 80% easy and 20% (ESPECIALLY if you are training for endurance events like the Marathon and Half-Marathon) you will see BIG performance gains!

Ted Talk by Stephen Seiler who suggests that “normal people” can train like the best endurance athletes

How “normal people” can train like the world’s best endurance athletes?

80/20 Running | 3 Minute Guide

1) Running Slow helps to keep your quality days QUALITY

Do you ever look at your Strava and think that all your runs are the same pace? Can’t shift gear? This might be because you’re running too hard, too often.

The vast majority of “recreationally competitive” runners push themselves day, after day. Fitzgerald suggests that an elite athlete will run four easy runs for every hard run. There is no mistaking that you do have to run hard to get faster. After all the whole purpose of racing is to get to the finish line as fast as possible. But running hard too often can have a detrimental effect on your quality training.

Saving your hard running for designated hard days means that you are rested enough to train the right energy system and can truly make the most out of your quality sessions.

I’m no angel when it comes to easy running as it’s so easy to get carried away. If you too find it hard to run easy then switch to using your heart rate, or perceived exertion, rather than using your mile/km split.

Running Slow keeps you fresh legged
Fresh legged and ready for action

2) Running Slow helps reduce risk of injury & illness

Basically running more miles easy helps build endurance whilst minimising the risk of overload. This strategy doesn’t give you results straight away, but by staying healthy for longer you can keep climbing the fitness ladder. I’m a geek and have bought the Strava bolt ons, the Fitness tool is a great way to visualise the peaks and troughs of training. Basically, consistency breeds success, and to be consistent you need to remain injury and illness free for as long as possible.

Running slow prevents big dips in performance keeping things consistent
As you can see training isn’t linear, the troughs are where I’ve either got ill or injured. The more easy running I’ve introduced the less dips, and the more consistent weeks of training.
Running Slow keeps you injury free for longer
Injury free for longer…. not going to lie we all get niggles, but I definitely have less now I’m more conscious about my easy running %

3) Helps you enjoy & keep loving Running

Beasting yourself in every session is not going to be very enjoyable!!! You’ll end up jibbing runs in favour of sitting on the couch. Slow down. You will then begin to love easy running in the countryside, taking photos and just enjoying being ALIVEEE!!!

Running Slow makes you appreciate nature
Happy and free as the Manx air

So how much running slow should I be doing?

Never do quality session back to back suggests  CAESAR in his article The Secret to Running a Faster Marathon? Slow Down.

Fitzgerald suggests that endurance athletes and normal humans should train using the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 book indicates that the average recreational runner spends less than 50% of their total training time at low intensity. Even spending 65/35 in low intensity can have a detrimental impact on race times.

So take a look at your Strava and be truly honest with whether you are doing enough easy running?

How do I implement running slow into my training?

The boundary between low and high intensity is based on the ventilatory threshold. The ventilatory threshold is the period when breathing abruptly changes and deepens.

For well trained runners their ventilatory threshold typically falls between 77-79% of max heart rate (so for me that’s roughly 130-150 bpm). This is slightly below the lactate threshold, which is the hardest pace that someone can work whilst holding a conversation.

The 80/20 rule makes it super easy… well if you’re good at maths!

An easy place to start is by writing down a plan, or getting someone to create a plan that clearly differentiates training hard/easy intensities.

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