How Do You Get Faster By Running Slower?

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In the world of running, the concept of getting faster by running slower may seem counterintuitive. However, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that incorporating slower, more deliberate runs into your training routine can actually lead to significant improvements in overall speed. By taking the time to understand the science behind this approach and implementing it correctly, you can unlock your true potential and achieve your running goals. So, lace up your shoes and get ready to discover how slowing down can ultimately make you faster.

Benefits of Running Slower

Improved Aerobic Capacity

Running slower, also known as easy or base running, has numerous benefits when it comes to improving your aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity refers to the amount of oxygen your body can utilize during physical activity. When you run at a slower pace, your body has the opportunity to take in more oxygen, allowing your muscles to work more efficiently. By focusing on easy runs, you can gradually build up your aerobic capacity, which will not only improve your endurance but also enhance your overall running performance.

Enhanced Fat Burning

Another advantage of running slower is the increased fat-burning potential. At lower intensities, your body relies more on fat as a primary fuel source. By incorporating easy runs into your training routine, you can tap into those fat stores and help improve your body’s ability to burn fat during exercise. This can be especially beneficial for individuals looking to lose weight or improve body composition.

Reduced Risk of Injury

Running slower can also help reduce the risk of injury. By running at a slower pace, you decrease the impact forces on your joints and muscles, allowing them to adapt and strengthen gradually. This helps to prevent overuse injuries that can occur from consistently pushing yourself to run at higher speeds. Slower running also allows for better form and technique, as you have more time to focus on your stride and body mechanics.

Training Principles for Running Faster

Building a Strong Foundation

To run faster, it’s important to build a strong foundation of endurance. This involves incorporating easy runs into your training plan to gradually increase your mileage and develop a solid base. By starting with slower, longer runs, you lay the groundwork for future speed work and higher-intensity training.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is a fundamental training principle that applies to all forms of exercise, including running. It involves gradually increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts to continually challenge your body and stimulate improvement. This principle can be applied to running faster by gradually increasing your pace or incorporating higher-intensity interval training.

Recovery and Adaptation

One crucial aspect of training for speed is allowing adequate recovery time for your body to adapt and grow stronger. After intense workouts or speed sessions, it’s important to give your body time to recover and rebuild. This can involve rest days, active recovery techniques, such as foam rolling or light cross-training, and getting enough sleep. By prioritizing recovery, you’ll set yourself up for better performance and reduce the risk of overtraining and injuries.

How Do You Get Faster By Running Slower?

Understanding the Aerobic System

Energy Systems in Running

When it comes to running, the human body relies on three main energy systems: the aerobic system, the anaerobic system, and the phosphagen system. The aerobic system primarily utilizes oxygen to produce energy and is responsible for providing sustained endurance during longer runs. Understanding how these energy systems work together can help you optimize your training and improve your running performance.

Importance of Aerobic Capacity

The aerobic system plays a vital role in running, especially when it comes to longer distances. By improving your aerobic capacity through slower, easy runs, you enhance your body’s ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently. This results in improved endurance, allowing you to maintain a steady pace for a longer duration. Increasing your aerobic capacity also helps delay the onset of fatigue and allows for a smoother transition between energy systems during high-intensity efforts.

Long Slow Distance (LSD) Runs

Definition and Purpose

Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs are characterized by longer distances and a slower, more relaxed pace. These runs are typically done at a conversational pace, where you can easily hold a conversation with a training partner. The purpose of LSD runs is to build endurance, increase aerobic capacity, and improve muscular endurance.

Training Intensity

During LSD runs, the emphasis is on maintaining a comfortable pace that allows you to sustain the effort for an extended period. This is typically around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate or a perceived exertion level of 4-6 on a scale of 1-10. It’s important to remember that the focus of LSD runs is not speed, but rather the duration and distance covered.

Benefits of LSD Runs

LSD runs offer several benefits for runners. They help build a solid base of endurance, improve aerobic capacity, and enhance the body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source. These longer, slower runs also provide mental benefits, as they teach patience, mental toughness, and discipline. Additionally, LSD runs can serve as a form of active recovery between more intense workouts.

How Do You Get Faster By Running Slower?

Pace Runs

Definition and Purpose

Pace runs, also known as tempo runs, are a type of workout that involves running at a comfortably hard pace, just below your lactate threshold. The goal of pace runs is to improve your lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in your muscles, causing fatigue. By training at or slightly below this threshold, you can teach your body to tolerate higher levels of lactic acid and maintain a faster pace for longer periods.

Training Intensity

To effectively perform pace runs, you should aim to run at a pace that is sustainable for a longer duration. This is typically around 80-85% of your maximum heart rate or a perceived exertion level of 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. The pace should be challenging but still allow you to maintain good form and rhythm throughout the workout.

Benefits of Pace Runs

Pace runs offer several benefits for runners looking to improve their speed and endurance. By running at a pace just below your lactate threshold, you improve your body’s ability to clear lactic acid more efficiently, delaying fatigue. This translates to being able to maintain a faster pace for longer distances. Pace runs also help improve aerobic capacity, enhance mental toughness, and build confidence in your ability to sustain a challenging pace.


Definition and Purpose

Intervals are a type of high-intensity workout that involves alternating between periods of high-intensity effort and periods of active recovery. The purpose of interval training is to improve speed, anaerobic capacity, and overall cardiovascular fitness. By pushing your body to its limits during the high-intensity intervals and then allowing for recovery, you can elicit significant physiological adaptations.

Training Intensity

During interval workouts, the high-intensity efforts should be performed at a near-maximal or maximal effort. The duration of these efforts can vary depending on the training goal but typically ranges from 30 seconds to several minutes. The active recovery periods should be done at a slow pace or complete rest to allow the body to recover before the next high-intensity effort. The specific work-to-rest ratio can vary but generally involves a shorter recovery period relative to the duration of the high-intensity effort.

Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training is highly effective for improving both speed and endurance. By pushing your body to its limits during the high-intensity intervals, you stimulate adaptations that enhance your cardiovascular system, increase your anaerobic capacity, and improve your overall running performance. Regular interval training can also lead to improvements in lactate threshold, allowing you to sustain higher speeds for longer durations.


Definition and Purpose

Fartlek, a Swedish term meaning “speed play,” is a type of training that involves alternating periods of faster running with periods of slower recovery. Unlike intervals, fartleks are less structured and allow for more flexibility in choosing when and where to increase or decrease the intensity. Fartleks can be incorporated into any run and are a fun and challenging way to mix up your training routine.

Training Intensity

During a fartlek run, you can choose to increase your pace for varying distances or time intervals. The intensity can be anything from a strong effort to an all-out sprint. The key is to challenge yourself during the faster intervals while still allowing for recovery during the slower segments. Fartleks give you the freedom to listen to your body and adjust the intensity based on how you feel during each run.

Benefits of Fartlek Training

Fartlek training offers a variety of benefits for runners. By incorporating bursts of faster running into your workouts, you improve your speed and anaerobic capacity, which are essential for race-day performance. Fartleks also help break up the monotony of traditional training, making your runs more enjoyable and engaging. Additionally, the ability to adjust the intensity during a fartlek run can help develop mental toughness and the ability to push through discomfort.

Hill Repeats

Definition and Purpose

Hill repeats involve running up a hill at an intense effort, followed by an easier recovery period, and then repeating the sequence multiple times. The purpose of hill repeats is to improve both strength and speed. Running uphill forces your muscles to work harder, building strength and power, while the recovery periods allow for partial recovery before the next uphill effort.

Training Intensity

During hill repeats, the intensity should be relatively high, with a focus on maintaining good form and a strong effort uphill. The duration and incline of each hill repeat can vary depending on your fitness level and training goals. The recovery period should be done at an easy pace or a walk, allowing your body to recover before the next uphill effort.

Benefits of Hill Repeats

Hill repeats provide several benefits for runners. By incorporating hills into your training, you develop strength in your lower body, particularly in the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This increased strength can translate to improved running economy and overall speed. Hill repeats also help improve mental toughness, as they require a great deal of effort and perseverance. Additionally, the variability in terrain can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries associated with repetitive motion on flat surfaces.

Rest and Recovery

Importance of Rest Days

Rest days are a crucial component of any training plan. They allow your body to recover, repair, and adapt to the stress placed upon it during workouts. Rest days also help prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injury. It’s important to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to rest and recharge.

Active Recovery Techniques

In addition to rest days, incorporating active recovery techniques can aid in the recovery process. Activities such as foam rolling, light stretching, yoga, or low-impact cross-training can improve blood flow, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance overall recovery. These activities can be done on rest days or as part of your warm-up or cool-down routine.

Listening to Your Body

One of the most important aspects of rest and recovery is listening to your body. Pay attention to how you feel both physically and mentally. If you’re feeling overly fatigued, experiencing persistent pain, or lacking motivation, it may be a sign that you need additional rest or a lighter workload. Giving your body the time it needs to recover will ultimately lead to improved performance and long-term success.

Nutrition and Hydration

Fueling Your Runs

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in supporting your training and maximizing your running performance. Before a run, it’s important to fuel your body with a balanced meal or snack that includes carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle repair, and healthy fats for sustained energy. During your runs, consider refueling with easily digestible carbohydrates such as energy gels or sports drinks to maintain energy levels.

Hydration Strategies

Hydration is essential for optimal running performance. Make sure to drink enough fluids throughout the day leading up to your runs and during your runs themselves. The amount of fluid you’ll need will depend on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the duration and intensity of your run. For longer runs, consider carrying a handheld water bottle or wearing a hydration pack to ensure you stay properly hydrated.

Importance of a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is key to supporting overall health and running performance. Aim to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients your body needs to function at its best. Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to meet your individual energy needs.

In conclusion, incorporating slower runs into your training plan can provide a range of benefits, including improved aerobic capacity, enhanced fat burning, and reduced risk of injury. To run faster, it’s essential to build a strong foundation, practice progressive overload, and prioritize rest and recovery. Understanding the aerobic system and incorporating specific workouts like LSD runs, pace runs, intervals, fartleks, and hill repeats can also help improve speed and endurance. In addition, proper nutrition, hydration, and a balanced diet are crucial for optimal performance. By implementing these training principles and strategies, you can become a faster and stronger runner while minimizing the risk of injury and optimizing your overall health and well-being.