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How does slowing down my fast runs speed up my race times? (Read 515 times)

Nuinta


    I've been running on and off x 4 years, pretty consistently though for the last year. I started running every day about 2 months ago, and by increasing my mileage from 10-15 mpw to ~25mpw, my pace has improved from slow,to not quite as slow: My half time dropped from 2:40 to  2:23 in about 7 weeks. I wanted a training plan, so looked at RW Smart coach. EVERY recommended pace time is 0:30-2:00 min/mile slower than I currently run. Yet the pace they show for my goal half in April is ten min faster than my last half!

    Have I just fallen into the typical mistake of not running easy enough? This just seems like EVERYTHING including my speed work has to be slower!

    In the past when I went from running every run too hard to running slow "because you are supposed to" my pace suffered -  from 10:30 m/m in a 10k to almost 12 min/m.  (it's like I couldn't speed up once I trained my body to slow down).  Lately I've been  running based on what my perceived effort - and my pace sped up.  Now I'm afraid if I slow down everything (especially my tempo and speed work pace), I won't progress. I do recognize I should slow down my easy runs. My runs currently range from 9:45-11:20, but most are 10:15-10:45.

     

    What do you think? Should I follow the rw smart coach paces strictly? Just for the easy/longs, but do the tempos/speed work more closely to current and progress pace proportionally? Scrap this plan and do something else entirely? Keep making it up? Thanks!


    Queen of 3rd Place

      First, good for you for switching to running every day and increasing your mileage! There will be big payoffs there over time in terms of race times  (mileage) and injury prevention (every day schedule). Make your log public and people smarter than I am can help you more than I can.

       

      It's hard for any online program to calculate your training paces. If your long runs take 2 or more hours and you're not struggling to finish them and you're not trashed when you're done, then your long run pace should be the same or slightly slower than your day-to-day, bread-and-butter "easy" or "aerobic" runs.

       

      But, be aware, your pace will vary, and sometimes a lot, from day to day. My normal "easy" run varies as much as a minute per mile even with the same weather conditions. Add a little heat, cold, hurricane, post-speed-workout, flu, or wow-I'm-a-beast-today and it varies even more. You just roll with those things and HTFU or enjoy as they come. Trust me, keep at it and you'll figure it out.

      Ex runner

      meaghansketch


        My easy runs are pretty close to the same pace as yours, maybe a little faster-- they typically range from 10:00-10:30 pace.

         

        I ran my last HM in just under 1:53; this wasn't a goal race and I didn't really taper for it.

        I am not the best one to explain the physiology of it, but running long, slow runs does for your aerobic endurance what medium-paced running can't-- build capillaries, increase mitochondria-- which will help you run faster at the same level of effort.  When you run your long and easy runs too fast, you deprive yourself of the aerobic development that can only happen with slow running.

         

        It sounds like you're taking all the right steps-- adding more mileage and slowing down your runs are probably the best things you can do for your aerobic endurance.

         

        I am not a huge fan of the 'smartcoach' plans, though if you want to stick with it I would slow down your easy/long runs but do your speedwork by effort, intervals feeling 'hard' and tempos feeling 'comfortably hard', whatever that pace ends up being.  You definitely want to be doing some running faster than your goal pace (especially as your goal race approaches) but it should probably never be the bulk of your schedule.

        Up next: Front Runners New York LGBT Pride 5-mile  06/28 |  NYRR Team Championships: Women (5M) 08/02

        Goal race: NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10K 10/25

          Congrats on your improvement!! I think arlahile and meaghan summarized nicely what happens when you run slowly. It does indeed make you faster, if you stick at it long enough.  If you want to read more in-depth, there are several threads on here that go into the physiology of it. I just did a quick search and found this one- check out the posts from Nobby415 on the first page. http://www.runningahead.com/forums/topic/96c425f4cd614bbcbe0803234eac92bf/0 (I know there are a ton more like this, this is just one of the first search results.)

           

          I do most of my runs around 10 min/mile pace (at the moment 10:30-11min pace due to snow/poor footing) but my half marathon times are generally between 1:40 and 1:45. I run 10k in 45-46 minutes. I started running seriously again in 2008 after a few years off, and I took 7 minutes off my 10k time in 4 months (from 52-something to 45:10) just by running more.

           

          Have fun!

          jicama


          Did we win?

            I'm starting to "get it".  I have a question, however.  How do I know how slow is right for me?  Can I run too slowly to realize the benefits?  Slow is something I can do!

            2014 races"

            Heart & Sole Half-Marathon,  Goldsboro, NC, Feb.8, 2:22

            Umstead Trail Marathon, Raleigh, NC, Mar. 1, 5:48

            Johnston Health Champions 5K, Smithfield, NC, 26:53

            Rattler Trail Half-Marathon, Sanford, NC, 2:52 (wow)

             

            2013 races:

            Heart & Sole Half-Marathon,  Goldsboro, NC, Feb. 2, 1:56:40 (PR)

            New River Marathon, Todd, NC, May 4, 4:59:32 (PR)

            Triple Lakes Trail Race (40 mile), Greensboro, NC, Oct. 5, DNF after 31 miles in 7:48

              I'm starting to "get it".  I have a question, however.  How do I know how slow is right for me?  Can I run too slowly to realize the benefits?  Slow is something I can do!

               

              I've also wondered whether "too slow" is a thing I should worry about. I guess at some point it makes more sense to just walk, but I'm sure most of us are just fine doing what we're doing. I think you get the physiological adapatations (mitochondria, capillaries and all that jazz) at a relatively wide range of paces.

               

              MTA: Just as an example, my running wizard training plan suggests a pace range for my aerobic runs (i.e standard easy run, but faster than a jog) of 5:28-6:20/km.


              Feeling the growl again

                Based on your description of not being able to run fast once you "trained yourself to run slow" I have to wonder if rather than running slower and recovering most days, and putting your energy into running a couple good, faster workouts per week, you are now running moderately fast virtually every day and not realizing it.  In other words, you do almost the same every day rather than varying your paces.

                 

                It's hard to run too slowly to get training benefits.  It's pretty easy to go too fast to get recovery.

                 

                If you are running every day and going 25mpw, you are doing what, 2-4 miles most runs?  If you can keep working up to where at least a couple runs a week are about an hour, you will start seeing big improvements.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                 

                  If you just slow down and don't do anything else to your training, that won't help much either (well, it would but...).  The idea is actually that you slow down so you can go far.  Supposed you are running almost everyday and about 20MPW, that's only a couple of miles a day (or 3...).  First, you want to fluctuate your runs.  So you might want to consider doing, say, 6-2-4-2-4-2-3...something like that.  And slowing down would help you go 6 (or even further if you want) and slowing down would help you recover when you do 1~2.  If you had been doing, say, 2-2-2-2-2...or 3-3-3-3...and just slow down, well, I'm not sure how that's going to help you improve (won't hurt)...

                   

                  I'm not familiar with Runner's World SmartCoach but, like I said, just merely slowing down blindly may not be the wise approach.  You can actually probably easily chop 10-minutes off your half marathon time by going from 20MPW to 30MPW alone.  Whether you really have to dramatically slow down to achieve that (to go 30), I wouldn't know.  But the whole idea is; so you slow down and make it easy and safe to go from 20 to 30 (MPW); and, once you get up there safely--and slowing down would help that too--; then you stay there at that comfort zone for several weeks, THEN your pace would naturally pick up.  You slow down at a very low mileage and do that for a week or two and you won't see that much difference; surely, you probably can't expect to chop 10-minutes off your half in a week or two by simply slowing down without the increase in over-all mileage OR your long run.

                   

                  Your working muscles require oxygen...or I should probably say, demand oxygen, in order to fulfill the task.  The MORE you run, the more efficient your body will become at delivering oxygen to the working muscles AND utilizing oxygen within those working muscles.

                   

                  Now, a tricky thing here is; the same can be said for running fast.  You run fast and your body will become efficient at it as well.  But running fast actually requires more than that--it's a bit more demanding and there would be a lot more "breaking down" that occurs during the fast runs.  You can teach your body to run, say, an hour everyday at nice and easy pace and your body would adapt to it quite nicely.  Now you try to run, say, 10-minutes very fast day in and day out...after a few days, you'll be "stuffed".  It won't take a genius to figure out that you need "recovery" in between.  This is because your body would go through some "cheating" to produce energy when running fast.  Even then, your body can't produce energy as efficiently.  in other words, even your body would adapt to such stress, running fast is actually physiologically very inefficient way to perform; and this makes it a lot more stressful.

                   

                  SmartCoach telling you to slow down for even tempo or interval training is an interesting thing...  Again, I don't know to what extent it slows you down but here's the thing.  Think about your own half marathon PACE or 5k PACE and see what PACE you think you need to perform your intervals.  If you are, say, racing at 8-minute pace, how much benefit do you think you'll gain by doing intervals at 7:15 pace?  I'm just throwing these numbers but far too many people believe fast intervals makes you race better.  Not necessarily.  It would be interesting to see how fast some of the elite runners do their intervals...and long runs, in relation to their race pace.  Take this guy I know, Toshinari Takaoka, for example. He's a 2:06:16 marathon runner.  He also holds the national record for 3000m and 10000m (27:30-something) for Japan.  He runs 150-miles a week; but at 8-minute-mile pace.  And his intervals are usually 8X1k in 2:45~3:00.  That's his 10k race pace.  Same with former Brits, Jon Brown (27:17 I believe...); he does his intervals something like 5 X 1-mile at 4:45 pace or something.  Nobody trains harder than a poor athlete and nobody gets disappointed than those poor athletes who train so much harder than necessary.  Remember the objective of your training is to race well; not to have an impressive workout in your log.

                   

                  I've been running on and off x 4 years, pretty consistently though for the last year. I started running every day about 2 months ago, and by increasing my mileage from 10-15 mpw to ~25mpw, my pace has improved from slow,to not quite as slow: My half time dropped from 2:40 to  2:23 in about 7 weeks. I wanted a training plan, so looked at RW Smart coach. EVERY recommended pace time is 0:30-2:00 min/mile slower than I currently run. Yet the pace they show for my goal half in April is ten min faster than my last half!

                  Have I just fallen into the typical mistake of not running easy enough? This just seems like EVERYTHING including my speed work has to be slower!

                  In the past when I went from running every run too hard to running slow "because you are supposed to" my pace suffered -  from 10:30 m/m in a 10k to almost 12 min/m.  (it's like I couldn't speed up once I trained my body to slow down).  Lately I've been  running based on what my perceived effort - and my pace sped up.  Now I'm afraid if I slow down everything (especially my tempo and speed work pace), I won't progress. I do recognize I should slow down my easy runs. My runs currently range from 9:45-11:20, but most are 10:15-10:45.

                   

                  What do you think? Should I follow the rw smart coach paces strictly? Just for the easy/longs, but do the tempos/speed work more closely to current and progress pace proportionally? Scrap this plan and do something else entirely? Keep making it up? Thanks!

                    "You can never run too slowly,"--Arthur Lydiard

                     

                    I'm starting to "get it".  I have a question, however.  How do I know how slow is right for me?  Can I run too slowly to realize the benefits?  Slow is something I can do!


                    And in the end...

                      I have completed a lot of marathons. At my peak fitness I got close to sub3, but came up short (3:01). I was running around 50-60mpw with a fair amount of faster miles. A few years later, and after I'd relaxed back into completing them at much slower times, I got re-motivated to race the clock again. I was in my early 40s. I jumped my mileage up to 80+mpw for 10 weeks, peaking at 137 miles in one 7 day stretch, and not running a single mile at, or faster than, 6:52 pace. Most of my miles were in the 9:00-9:30 range (sometimes as slow as 12:00!). I did some 10-12-14 milers in the 7:10-7:30 range. I ran a lot of doubles. On race day I ran 2:59:59 clock / 2:59:35 chip with never even 5k splits. It was a warm day in Chicago, and despite the conditions and my PR pace, it was easier than many other marathons I'd completed. So, I have personal experience that you can improve your marathon time without traditional speedwork. The way I view it, rightly or wrongly, is that there are two basic paths to improvement. Since you have to stress your systems in order to stimulate adpatations, you can either follow the super-compensation approach where you 'over work' a given system then allow for recovery (speedwork), or you can build up a lesser stress and sustain it over a longer period of time never fully recovering. If you go with option 2, you need to run a lot... I mean, like really, a lot. And there is a point at which miles alone won't lead to improvement. At that point your limiting factor is no longer endurance.

                      ------------------------

                      The GITM is moot.

                      Nuinta


                        I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer. To answr one of the questions a few have asked, i have been doing varying distances per week, 2-4 is typical, but i do one mile once a week or so if i dont have time to run longer.  I try to get a 5-6 mile run in once a week.  And my long runs have been 6-8.  So this week so far i've done 1-4.6-1-4. (it's been busy at work and home). Last week I did 10-4-2-3-2-4. Spaniel, I think you are probably right: I probably do most of my runs moderately hard: not all out, but not easy enough. Nobby, I'm not entirely sure what you are suggesting - you seem to say slowing down is best, but slowing down alone isn't enough - but I'm not sure what else I should do - slow down And run more?  It's hard enough to fit in what runs I'm currently doing - I'm not sure that I will have time to do 2-3 one hour slow runs during the week plus a 2+ hour long slow run during the weekend plus 2 other 40 min runs plus a speed run!  I have a young family and work, and work means leave home at 6:15 am so I won't be running before work.

                         

                        I think my plan is to finish the next week and a half off the way i have been - I have a half coming up, at Disney, not planning on trying to race it hard,  just see what I can comfortably do.  Then I don't have anything scheduled til early September. During that time I will try to do one harder run per week (tempo,intervals, etc) , one long run, and 5 easy runs. I'm thinking of say 2-4-2-3-5-3-8.   So that's 27 mpw. Aim for the 4 miler to be my speedy or harder run. The others all easy-easy : perceived effort of 2-3 out of 10. Start out with pace 11:30-12 if needed. I will have all of march and April. See what happens with my easy pace.  Maybe try a 10K then to see what happens with my race time. If I've improved, great. If not, reassess from there. I will have 12 weeks to plan end August race.

                         

                        How long do you guess it will take to see pace improvement if I slow down and maintain ~25mpw?

                         

                        And how is it that a body used to running easy at say 10-10:30 min/mile, with a few miles of tempo run at say 9-9:30, can suddenly run a 8 min/mi half marathon? Doesnt your body need to be accustomed to running that distance faster? 


                        Queen of 3rd Place

                          (snip snip) Nobby, I'm not entirely sure what you are suggesting - you seem to say slowing down is best, but slowing down alone isn't enough - but I'm not sure what else I should do - slow down And run more?  

                           

                          (snip) one long run, and 5 easy runs. I'm thinking of say 2-4-2-3-5-3-8.   So that's 27 mpw.

                           

                          How long do you guess it will take to see pace improvement if I slow down and maintain ~25mpw?

                           

                          And how is it that a body used to running easy at say 10-10:30 min/mile, with a few miles of tempo run at say 9-9:30, can suddenly run a 8 min/mi half marathon? Doesnt your body need to be accustomed to running that distance faster? 

                           

                          I'm not Nobby or Spaniel but I'd like to try to answer (also to play with these ideas in my own head). Yes, slow down (most of the time) AND run more. You can ease into this, slowing down and running more will eventually mean that you'll be a little faster on your slow runs, which means you can run more miles per unit time invested. I know that fitting it into your schedule is hard, but if you get more "into" this, it does become more normal and you'll find yourself more willing to squeeze your running in where you can.

                           

                          Your 27 mpw plan looks solid. Eventually make the 2-milers into 3s and maybe one of the 3s into a 4. Hey, I bet it takes almost as long to get ready to run as it does to actually run those 2 miles, might as well add another mile. Voila: 30 mpw. BTW, 30 mpw is just over 1500 mi a year!

                           

                          Pace improvement with increased mileage comes slowly as its happening, but when you look back at it over months or years it will look impressive. Again, the more miles you can get in, especially over time, the better. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that a lot of those miles should be fairly enjoyable...

                           

                          Regarding your last question on training and racing paces. Read Nobby's posts again very carefully and think about them deeply. Notice how "slow" Takaoka's training paces seem when you do the math?

                           

                          Next, remember that training and racing are different. Training is done to develop physical and mental adaptations. Racing is a different beast, let's just say that "magical" things happen, things that are nothing like your experiences during training.

                           

                          Finally, you should know that slower runners like you and me might be running their half marathon races and tempo runs at close to the same pace (I think Daniels wrote about this and I'm sure that it's been posted here at RA). Just as an example, from my training and racing data:

                           

                          Training

                          800m repeats at 7:50

                          1 mile "tempo" at 8:22

                          long/easy runs at 10 - 9:30

                           

                          Racing

                          5K at 7:16

                          13.1 at 8:08

                          Ex runner


                          A Saucy Wench


                             

                            And how is it that a body used to running easy at say 10-10:30 min/mile, with a few miles of tempo run at say 9-9:30, can suddenly run a 8 min/mi half marathon? Doesnt your body need to be accustomed to running that distance faster? 

                             

                            It needs to be accustomed to running.  It needs to be accustomed to running faster.  It needs to be accustomed to running (somewhat close to that distance) .  It does not need to be accustomed to doing all 3 things at the same time all the time or it wears out.  It's like running your car at the redline all the time.  Nowhere to go and it is hard on your engine.  Volume is like learning about gears.

                             

                            The question here is are your easy days too easy, or are you not figuring out how to get more out of the races than in training.

                             

                            I'd continue to ramp your volume.  Keep your easy easy, play around with the other stuff.  And race some 10K's - just throw them in untapered in place of another workout  (maybe 5K's, but I found 10K's were a better teacher).  Hard.  Blow up.   Find out what racing is supposed to feel like.  Go out too fast and hold it.

                             

                            My guess is using HM as your "pace setter" is going to give you paces that ARE overall too slow because you dont have enough of a base to be truly well trained for the half.  Race some shorter stuff and see how your paces compare.   I'm betting you'll end up somewhere faster than the paces being suggested from your half but slower than the paces you were doing before.   Or maybe once you adjust to the volume you will drift back to the paces you were using. AFTER you've built the volume.

                            I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets

                             

                            "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7


                            Queen of 3rd Place

                              Ennay is wise. Except she didn't tell you that when you "find out what racing feels like", you'll find out it feels like living hell. But don't worry, you'll love it anyway.

                              Ex runner

                                These are wise people! Do what they say! I should have specified in my answer that yeah, it wasn't just running slowly that made me faster, it was running more miles slowly. How does running a lot of 10 minute miles lead to a 7-something-paced 10k? Couldn't tell ya, but race day is magic. Really. Take Ennay's advice, run some races, you'll see!

                                 

                                Ennay said: "Keep your easy easy, play around with the other stuff. " And since Nuinta you seem to have time constraints and worry about getting a"speed day" in, I just wanted to chime in again and say that at this point, you don't need to be doing big track workouts. "Other stuff" can be just throwing a HM or 10k-paced mile or two into your regular runs, or do a fartlek run (do a search here if you haven't come across the term yet. I did one yesterday and they really are fun.) At this point just running more miles is going to account for a lot of improvement if you keep at it.

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