You can find countless articles and videos about how running slow can help you run fast.
But it’s hard to find an example of this working with real runners, from actual slow training in real life and not in a laboratory.
Today I want to show you proof that training slow can make you a faster runner.
Note: When I say “slow”, I mean heart rate zone 2, the light intensity, endurance zone.
Presenting Evidence #1
Same distance, same route, 5 weeks apart.
But 2 minutes faster with the same heart rate. 😱
95.4% of my runs between these two workouts were in zone 2, there was just a 5km time trial, and my longest run was only one hour and thirty minutes. If you want to see the specific workouts, they are public in my Strava profile.
Now, this is only five weeks of training, without proper speed work. When you add some speed workouts and keep training slow, you can see even better improvement.
Presenting Evidence #2
A workout from last year in the final weeks of a training program. You can see that I ran the same 42 minutes but one kilometer more, and at 5bpm less.
Consistent “slow” training in zone 2 pays off.
There are three important things to consider when training with heart rate:
- First, set up your zones correctly. Scientific research shows that using your age and resting heart rate is the best way to do it.
- Really run in zone 2. I see many runners not following their program and then wondering why they are not running faster or getting injured.
- As you get fitter, your resting heart rate will decrease, so you will need to adjust your zones accordingly. Luckily, Bannister does that for you.
But why does running slower help you avoid injuries.
You get injured because you stress your body beyond its current capacities, and when you train in zone 2, you can train more without over-stressing your body.
There are three primary ways you can over-stress your body and get injured.
As my friend and physiotherapist Richele Weeks likes to say.
“Most runners get injured because of the three 2’s. They do 2 much, 2 soon, 2 fast.”Physiotherapist Richele Weeks
The good news is that running “slow” in zone 2, automatically eliminates the “2 fast” part. You will run faster only as your body improves.
And you learned from the evidence above that those improvements are real.
Just by following this simple training technique, one-third of your stress problems are gone.
The other 2 problems can be solved with a personalized training program that adjusts and adapts with you.
When a training program calculates the real stress your body is getting after a workout, you won’t run 2 much or 2 soon because your program is adapting to balance the stress your body experiences based on your actual training data.