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Believe it or not, there is a method to those runs in a marathon program and these words can make that effort count!
Put simply, those two words are “slow down." This may sound strange but let’s break down why this is so important!
I have run almost 60 marathons/ultra marathons over the past 12 years and it took me that long to finally reach a goal that I had had from the beginning – to run a sub-3 hour and 30 minute marathon. Part of that reason had to do with the fact that probably 80% of those marathons were not serious efforts and more for the location.
But, I firmly believe that another reason had to do with the training program I was using (Hansons Marathon Program) and the focus on the off-day runs being run at slower paces.
A marathon training program will typically have a few elements – the easy run, the long run, and the speed/tempo runs. The speed runs will include things like tempo runs and repeats.
The long run will get your body conditioned to staying on your feet for longer periods as you prepare for the 26.2 mile distance. Finally, the easy run. These runs are typically to help you get your miles in and to help you aerobically.
Many times, runners attack these slow days as if they need to turn in quality performance runs every time they hit the roads. This means running these slower runs at paces that are between what they should be and the speed workout paces.
This actually does not help in your body recovering between workouts and instead treats these miles and runs as workouts, instead of slow and comfortable paces to help your body and muscles recover while still covering the miles.
There are even a couple of programs that recommend not even doing those slow runs but instead doing cross-training on those days and only running for tempo runs, repeat workouts, and long runs. This is again because those slower runs are meant to help in recovery while still helping your heart and blood flow.
So, while it may seem that running slow on slow days is not very beneficial, it can actually be one of the most important parts of a training program! It allows you to continue to get the benefits of a workout and the mileage while not taxing your body more than it should be for the “easy” day of the program.
I do know this – my last training program was more fun and more productive than any program I had ever used before and I feel that I owe a lot of that to the fact that I actually forced myself to slow down on slow days to a pace that was much slower than I had ever run before on slow days.
Remember – while each run can have a purpose, every run does not have to be fast. Slow down on those easy days and trust your body and the program.(06/18/2019) ⚡AMP