Have you been running for a few months now, but feel like you’re just not getting any fitter?

Well… that’s common, and the answer is simple. As strange as it sounds it’s probably because you’re not running slow enough; I’ll explain why this important.

Many people take up running at that start of the year to get fitter, leaner and stronger. You may be doing a few runs a week and noticing that you’re feeling good, but just not getting much fitter.

This may be due to doing the same run, at the same pace, at an intensity where you feel pretty knackered at the end of it.

While it’s great that you’re being active and getting into running, to get the most out of your running you need to learn to mix up your runs (speed, duration, terrain). It’s important to add in some slower runs so the heart can adapt to the increase in activity. Running slowly allows the heart to efficiently to pump blood & oxygen around the body, because it has time to expand and contract.

When you are running at a quicker pace, the heart is less efficient with pumping oxygen to the lungs and muscles that require it to keep running, so you will fatigue much quicker.

Whilst faster (high-intensity) runs are important, they place higher levels of stress on the heart muscle (and all muscles in the body for that matter), which then requires time over the following days to recover, adapt and become stronger and more efficient during higher-demand exercise.

Slower runs grant the cardiovascular system the opportunity to recover from your higher intensity sessions, rather than layering high stress runs on top of each other which results in mounting fatigue and potential injury.

(See our latest post on instagram for an amazing running exercise – “The Wall Clam”)

“So… how do I run slow and how slow should I run?”

You can easily access your heart rate if you have a smart watch (apple, Garmin, Fitbit etc.), and the heart rate you should run at for your slower (aerobic) runs is around 180bpm minus your age. E.g., If you’re 35, your slow run heart rate average should be around 145bpm.

If you don’t have a smart watch, then there’s a couple ways to know you’re running at the correct aerobic pace. The two easiest ways are:

1. You can hold a conversation whilst running.

2. You don’t have a suppression of appetite at the end of your run (you don’t have the feeling of your lunch wanting to come up or grasping straight for the water bottle).

By combining 1-2 slower runs with intermittent speed work, you will start to notice that you will be feeling a lot fresher during your runs and when you back up for your next session.

If you are still having issues after a few weeks, then it may be due to your running technique. If it is your technique, then we can make some adjustments in clinic.