Training Tuesdays: On Slowing Down

I know I mocked the whole ‘all you have to do is slow down’ to run an ultra thing less than a week ago, but I have to admit it sounded so damn logical that I had to give it a try.

Saturday, when motivation failed to get me to the mountains, my guilt strategy kicked in and I opted for some hill repeats.  When I really want to punish myself, I head out to Spanish Banks/UBC endowment lands, where there are a couple of relentless hills that threaten your will to live. 

The Question: If I slow my pace, will it actually enhance my endurance?

The verdict: A resounding yes!

run

My usual running pace is about 5 min/km and, at that pace, I can comfortably run 10-12km. Uphill, I’m usually closer to 5:30 min/km and downhill I can cruise at about 4:40 min/km.

On Saturday, my average overall pace was 5:53. On the steepest parts of the uphill sections I was closer to 7:30 min/km but most of the overall uphill sections averaged out to around 6 min/km.  I even concentrated on downhill sections, and was able to bring my pace down to 5:35 min/km. At these paces, I very, very comfortably ran 17.26 km. I cannot stress enough how comfortable this distance felt (i.e. I felt like I could have run another 5 km easily).

What I Learned:

  • You would think it would be easy to just enjoy a more leisurely run, but it goes against everything I believe in about running (i.e. faster = better runner).  I have to shift my mindset around what ‘good’ running looks like. Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I am not good at slowing down. I walk quickly, even when I have nowhere to be. I drive quickly, even when I am not running late. I pretty much operate under the assumption that everything is a race. Going slowly not only seems like a waste of time, but also (and maybe even more importantly) seems like a sign of weakness. I absolutely equate speed and efficiency with competence.  I knew this approach would be hard for me–and it was.  Anytime someone passed me, I had to fight the urge to match their pace.  When I felt strong enough to run faster, I had to fight against burning myself out.
  • Even slowing my pace by 30 seconds/km makes an absolutely massive difference to stamina on uphill sections. Not once did I have to stop running. I may have felt like I was crawling, but at least I kept going!
  • If I can run 17.26 km of hills after a night of bad eating (i.e. pub food) and mild celebration (i.e. pub drinks) and without a good night’s rest (i.e. restless sleep because of aforementioned pub food and drinks), imagine what I could do with proper diet and hydration and sleep!

So far, training experimentation has been victorious! What should I try next????

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2 thoughts on “Training Tuesdays: On Slowing Down”

  1. I love the shout-outs I’m getting in your blog…although so far my involvement is only in pub food and abandoning you 28 minutes into the workout. The burn of the shame is intense.

    Like

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