This is a funny thing for me to post considering how incredibly competitive I can be at times and for all of the years that I nagged Rock to speed up on our leisurely runs. Sorry Rock!
The other day he came home from a hot and windy 22 mile training run. Ah, nothing feels as good as finishing that last big long run in your training plan (except sleeping in, which is what I did). Sure he has a few more long runs to go before the marathon, but the biggest is out of the way
He did this run all around NYC and spent a good portion of it in hilly Central Park. Later in the day he was telling me that as he pushed to get through those final miles he noticed people passing him at times. Neither of us are super speedy but we do carry a decent pace and tend to be the ones passing more often than getting passed. He found it discouraging at times but had to remind himself that he was doing 22 miles and odds were that people passing him were doing a much shorter run.
I’ve been known to let my ego get the best of me and speed up in Central Park or get caught up in a friendly “push” for a few miles. But recently when I went to pass someone and he gave me a nod and tried to out pace me I waved him off and said, “I’m too pregnant for that.” Now that got a sideways glance!
We runners often spend a lot of our time “training” for something. This is of course great because I believe it keeps us motivated and gives us something to look forward to. But we need to keep in mind that not every run is a race and sometimes we need to just relax and enjoy our time out on the road or the trail. Constantly worrying about getting faster or being the fastest is a sure fire way to slowly drain the love out of our sport.
We need to remember that long slow runs are necessary for improving as runners. The long slow run is an essential training tool for becoming a stronger runner. These runs are meant to be done at a pace of 30 seconds up to even a minute per mile slower than your normal pace. The time on your feet and the extra time with an increased heart rate improves your cardiovascular endurance. All of this is essential for handling longer runs and endurance events.
Slow runs play a part of training just as fast runs do. Sure fast runs help to improve speed. But those slow or “easy” paced runs also are necessary training tools. Easy runs can help you recover a day or two after your long runs and help “shake out” the lactic acid. Take a look at any training plan and you will see these sporadically placed throughout the week to help you recover or prepare for a longer run.
It is important to get back to why you fell in love with running in the first place. Odds are you didn’t lace up your shoes the first time and try to run the fastest three miles you possibly could. If you did that, there’s a good chance you hated it and said you would never run again. Most of us start out for various reasons usually centered around getting in shape or finding a new way to enjoy the outdoors. As we improve or feel more comfortable our pace increases, as does the distance. At some point we often start to push ourselves to become better runners and thus begins the speedier runs.
There is something wonderful about going back to your running grassroots. Forget the pace. Heck, forget the GPS or pacing app, and just go for a run. It is a liberating feeling and you might even discover that your pace speeds up without your even trying. More importantly, you will enjoy just going for a run. Just like the good old days!