Slow Down

“Run Slower.” How many times over the years have I heard this advice? I’ve given that advice. Truth is, I’ve been lying to myself when said I ran slow enough. I heard, in the inner voice that I usually tell to shut up, that I could go slower. I was afraid that running slower would make me slower. This is typical, the “advice people” (aka “they”) say, “it won’t make you slower!” but we don’t buy it. I didn’t, and I bet you are skeptical too.

Then I started having trouble increasing my mileage. I was running MANY one and two mile days to keep my streak alive but I couldn’t get beyond 20 miles a week without fatigue setting in. There was no one injury, just a series of little nagging injuries that waxed and waned and a general feeling of sludge in my legs. (sound familiar?) Then I’d have days that I felt great and nailed a good pace. My Garmin V02Max started to drop, and then drop again. I was tempted to blame age but, to be honest, wasn’t ready to accept that my body didn’t have long distances left to run. I did some good research (the kind I learned to do in grad school) and learned that in spite of my stubbornness, I was actually right. The science didn’t show that it I couldn’t still build distance and speed, even at my age. That’s a double negative – the science shows that I can still build distance and speed at my age.

Then, I slowed down. This actually required getting a treadmill, setting the pace low and keeping it low. (I still have a hard time slowing down enough outside.) I started with my one and two mile streak savers at 11:30 minutes per mile. I discovered that I usually could barely hit two miles before my heart rate would rocket up. Interesting. So I’d run as long as I could keep my heart rate in the 140s and then I’d quit when I’d hit my next half mile. So say 1.5 miles and my heart rate is in the 160s, I run until 2.0 and then stop. There were days that I only finished one mile.

Before I continue, I must add a disclaimer here that I moved from 5,900 feet elevation in Colorado to 400 feet elevation in Rhode Island at about the same time. This doesn’t explain how much my fitness has improved over the time that we have been here. Read on.

That was were I started five months ago. Now, I can usually count on four miles before my heartrate says, “done” even if I’m tired. I’ve ran as far as eight, at the treadmill’s slow and steady pace, with a heartrate under 145.

My fears that it would make me slower were all smoothed away when I ran a half in 1:46 last month. I honestly had begun to think that I might never get under 1:50 again. I felt great during that race. I felt great in the days following.

Shut up. I trained slower and then raced faster? Mind Blown.

Okay, baby! Let’s run a marathon!