As I sit here gathering my race stats information for my new Race Stats page, I noticed how significantly slower I’ve been running this season. And I think of some of the problems that I’ve had and I flashback to an appointment that I had with my podiatrist when I was having pain on the top of my foot. I remember boasting about how I went from 0 to 26.2 in a short amount of time and that I had planned on picking up speed this year. When I told him I did my first marathon in 4:56, he, who was also a runner, said to me “was it worth it?” And I looked at him. Then he proceeded to tell me that he rarely sees elite runners for pain and injuries because they were fast. He said that the runners he typically sees are slower runners because they spend more time on their feet. Fast runners spend less time on their feet and therefore have less injuries.
I wanted to punch him in the face.
So just a few minutes ago, I did a little research and found information that makes me feel a little better:
We need to slow down. We need to gauge our workouts and our workout progression to ensure that we’ll be training tomorrow…and the next day, and next week, and next month and next year.
We need to see our sport as art and ourselves as artists. We must commit ourselves to small, fine strokes, breathing life into our running canvas the way Michelangelo used his chisel to free David from a block of Carrara marble.
Patience and long-term planning must be our training partners.
Because, like it or not, the fastest way to become better master runners is to take our time.
Slower gets us there faster. Faster seldom gets us there at all.
After 30 years of tracking injuries during marathon training programs, I’ve found that most are due to running the long ones too fast. You can’t run the long ones too slowly—you get the same endurance whether you go very fast or very slow. Slow running will allow your legs to recover faster.
Running slow applies “gentle” stress to the key physiological systems required to run at a high level. Gentle, easy running helps to let the healing begin. Think of it as “active recovery” that helps facilitate blood flow gently to the damaged muscles that need help.
So there you go doggone foot doctor! Take that!
Ok, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I really do WANT to increase my speed and I do believe that I need to start running my own pace even if it means breaking away, or falling behind, my running buddies. I WANT a 4:30 marathon finish, but know realistically, I’ll be lucky if I make 4:45. It’s okay, if it doesn’t happen this year, it’ll happen next year.
So, if you’re a slow runner…don’t sweat it (and don’t go to my podiatrist). Go at your pace and enjoy!