Slowing Down to Speed Up

I took my first stride toward becoming a faster runner by running even more slowly than usual last night.

It’s counter-intuitive, and maybe it won’t work, but I’m going to try it out. I’m jumping on the metabolic efficiency training bandwagon, kind of. As usual, I am jumping in with both feet without any education or research on the subject. I will figure that out later.

I read about this a few months ago in a few different areas and thought it would be great. I can run slowly and have a reason to do it! Hooray! My version of metabolic efficiency training SO FAR is trying to build an aerobic base by keeping my heart rate under 142 at all times during my runs. That is not at all what metabolic efficiency training is really about. It is also about burning stored fat instead of stored carbohydrates while running, and it also involves nutrition planning. I will eventually need to make some changes to how I eat, for a variety of running-related reasons, but for now I am just running slowly.

Actual real runners do this training too, and I find it interesting to read some of their accounts of the training. Almost every speedy runner who starts this training talks about how embarrassed and ashamed they are to run so slowly. Most of them don’t even put up their times, but I guarantee you those times are still faster than my maximum speed for even a single mile. Welcome to my every day, speedsters!

I really, really, really had to slow down for my first run (on the treadmill, bien sur!); I ended up running about 17 min/mile. That was interesting. I can also walk at that pace, but resisted the temptation. And even then, I still ended up with my heart rate a little higher than it should have been by the end! I averaged 143. So I failed. But I didn’t mind running three minutes slower than my usual pace, because I was running with a purpose!

On the plus side, the pace is supposed to be sustainable forever, figuratively speaking, and it was. I didn’t end up red-faced and I wasn’t nauseated or crampy. It also made the treadmill bearable because I wasn’t pushing so hard while bored out of my mind.

On the minus side, I ended up going over my heart rate target by doing my favorite form of cross-training: shoveling snow. Well, I assume I did based on how I felt, because I don’t have an orthorexic need to track every calorie burned in any activity anytime.

Just so you know, I do plan on doing actual research on this method of training to make sure I’m not completely screwing it up. I’ll share what I learn as I go along.

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