Adding slow runs to your regular training plan can actually help you run faster and increase your long-distance stamina. For some runners, running at a slow pace is challenging, especially for shorter distance runners. Running slow runs regularly has many physical and mental training benefits. First, find your own personal slow pace, when you can hold a conversation while running, and you should run at 65% of your heart rate. Slow Pace Heart Rate Calculation Example: Find your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate then calculate. Maximum Heart Rate (180)- Resting Heart Rate (50) = 30 Calculate 65% of 130 = 84.5 (130X0.65) =84.5 Add your Resting Heart Rate of (50) to 84.5 =134.5 Benefits of Regular Slow Runs: 1. Fat Adaptation:As your body becomes more adapted to aerobic, slow runs, it will use more fat energy efficiently. During slow runs, the body uses about 50% of fat energy, while the remaining 50% is a combination of glucose and protein for energy. During faster anaerobic runs, the body uses glycogen from carbohydrates, but our body can only store glycogen for about a two hour faster anaerobic run, then our body gets depleted of stored muscle glycogen.
2. Fat Oxidation:Fat oxidation requires oxygen, that’s why it’s very hard to run long distances at a very fast pace. Long distance slow runs are much easier to sustain. During slow long runs, your body has to constantly replenish the oxygen reserves it uses to continue to produce energy. Fat metabolism requires oxygen, you train your body to use fat as it main energy source rather than carbohydrates. This adaptation will allow you to run longer distances without having to refuel as much. Slow easy runs also train the body’s cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently, this will allow you to run with less effort during your fast runs.
3. Slow Twitch Muscle Training:Slow runs train your slow twitch muscle fibers, the muscle fibers that allow you to run aerobically to support your pace during long-distance runs. Slow-twitch muscle fibers have a higher density of mitochondria, high levels of aerobic enzymes, and greater capillary density than fast twitch muscles fibers. During slow easy runs, you increase mitochondria and capillaries and blood flow to those muscles, so they increase their levels of oxygen utilization, which you need during intense runs. Fast runs and speedwork sessions help build up fast twitch muscle fibers, which are more visible, but slow runs will help your tendons, ligaments, joints and bones adapt to the stress of long-distance runs. Slow runs will strengthen all the tendons, ligaments and bones without causing stress on them and avoid injuries.
4. Better Running Form:Slower runs make it easier to focus on running technique. You can concentrate more and adjust your running form during slow runs, which will help avoid injuries, strengthen your essential muscles and make you run stronger. During fast runs the blood circulates away from the brain to meet the body and muscles oxygen demand, this lowers your ability to focus on your running form.
5. Mental Training:Slower runs can help train your brain to adapt to spending much more time on your feet, and deal with the physical discomfort, muscle soreness, brain fatigue. All these side effects of long-distance runs will get easier to handle and switch to feeling familiar during your long-distance runs or races.Every type of run includes benefits, fast run, uphill, speedwork, but long-distance slow runs can help you build up your mileage efficiently, train your muscles and running form properly and train mentally. Also runners should use slow runs as recovery runs and post-injury runs. Enjoy your slow runs!
Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!