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How Running Slower Makes You Faster

Let’s face it: runners are competitive. Something about running solo or running alongside others triggers a need to chase after those slightly quicker than me. Then, I push myself harder to keep up even on easy runs because it feels productive at the moment. But is constantly chasing speed actually the best strategy? 

Slow runs are the best way to succeed without burning stamina, which is also key to improving fitness. These recovery runs reduce the risk of muscle and joint injury and also lessen the intensity of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by improving blood circulation and helping run long distances.

To incorporate this concept better in our lives, let’s learn how running slower makes us faster.

Why Should I Run Slowly?

Slow runs are beneficial because they keep me healthier and help my body adapt better to the surroundings. So here are a few reasons why I prefer running slowly instead of practicing brisk runs: 

Improves the Aerobic System

Slow and steady wins the race, especially when building endurance and speed. One of the primary reasons I choose to run slow on my easy days is that during these runs, my body is constantly adapting and becoming a more efficient energy converter. 

These slow runs keep my heart rate in a specific zone, also called the fat-burning zone, and train my body to be better at oxygen consumption. It also allows me to breathe deeply, where energy is utilized via aerobic glycolysis, and improves my aerobic system for tougher and more long-distance runs.

Lower Injury Risk

While fast running seems tempting, incorporating slow runs into my regular exercise keeps me stress-free and less at risk of severe physical injuries. This allows me to stay consistent with my training, racking up more miles overall.  

While it seems like slow progress, it surprisingly prepares me well for longer runs and even improves my speed. Moreover, it keeps my body fresh and active and protects me from fatigue or cardiorespiratory issues due to exhaustive runs. 

Recent research suggests a direct link between the more exercise you do and the greater the likelihood of injuries.

Improves Mental Well-Being

Running isn’t just physical; it's mental, too. Slow runs serve as my mental gym, and the rhythm helps me stay present and focus on my breath. 

This mental training translates into letting me think and process thoughts better and is no less than a peaceful meditation session. Recent studies show that slow-running leads to improvements in mood and executive function. This is due to increased activation in pre-frontal subregions of the brain, areas associated with critical thinking and decision-making.

How Slow Should I Run?

As tempting as fast-paced running looks, most runs should be slow. Slow runs are the key to long-term success and healthier well-being.

I recommend and follow a schedule that includes one hard session, one long easy run, and two to three shorter easy runs each week. The key to ‘run slow to run fast’ is to run at a conversational pace. If I can comfortably chat out loud to myself without gasping words in between words, then I’m in the right zone.

For a personalized plan on how to incorporate slow runs, hiring a trainer is the best choice.

Bottom Line

Who doesn’t wanna run faster and beat the next person on track? But guess what? It only brings frustration and a constant burnt-out feeling.

Slow running sounds counterintuitive, but incorporating slower paces into my training has worked wonders. They build a strong foundation with speed and endurance and allow me to focus on proper form and tackle harder workouts. So, be patient, trust the process, and enjoy the journey. 

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