“Good things come slow…”

worth reading….excerpts from some books and articles i have:

“Good things come slow, especially in distance running.” – Bill Dillinger, Oregon coach

“I have been a coach since 2004 and I can’t think of any time off hand I have had to tell an athlete to go harder in a workout. Have I had to tell them to get workouts in? Occasionally, but when someone pays a coach to train them they usually don’t have an issue with that. 99.9% of the time I am slowing them down in training.” 

“I can show you the data of elite triathletes…… triathletes who routinely run sub 3:15 off the bike in Kona. These athletes routinely and regularly…… and even last weekend executed their recovery runs slower than 11 minute miles. Again, these are athletes that run 6:XX off the bike.  Think about this. You are a 7 minute miler off the bike in an Ironman. Your training pace therefore should not be 7 minute miles. But many….. are. That only lasts for so long. The better the athlete the bigger the gap between race pace and recovery pace. That is a fact.” 

I promise you that the only thing that suffers during [slow runs]….. is your ego. – Mary Eggers (4-time Ironman Finisher ; triathlon coach)

A very smart coach I once spoke with said “the best decisions you make as a coach are those that result in holding folks back.  When was the last time you said, boy, I wish we did more”. – Jesse Kropelnicki (triathlon coach)

“Low-intensity runs may not be flashy, but they’re one of the keys to three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander’s success.”

“The world’s best triathletes spend most of their training time working at very comfortable effort levels.  There may not be another triathlete in the world who can run with Craig Alexander off the bike in an Ironman, but several days before his recent victory at the Eagleman Ironman 70.3 triathlon (where he ran sub 6:00) in Cambridge, MD, Crowie completed a run that almost any other triathlete in the world could have easily done alongside him.  As he always does, Alexander wore a speed and distance device during the run and afterward uploaded the data onto his TrainingPeaks account. What you can see is that Alexander did the whole run at a very comfortable pace. He covered 5.22 miles in a little over 53 minutes. His normalized graded pace for the uphill run (an average pace that adjusts for hills) was 9:49 per mile. (Crowie’s marathons during an Ironman are typically in the 6:00 range)” – Train Like Crowie: The Importance of Slower Sessions by Matt Fitzgerald (coach, author)

“Most of us make the mistake of going medium-hard all the time.” – Michael Sandrock (legendary runner, author)

If you watch me run today you would think that I am just plain slow and that I must be moving backwards.  Much of my running time, about 90 – 95%, is slow running.  But when it comes to competitions I will hit my goal of 40 minutes per 10k.  I do this with great accuracy, as if I were a brain surgeon.  I do speed work, but rarely do that type of running.

One of the tips I found interesting was that speed work needs would be the spice of the training.  The water part of the training is the endurance, so taking it slow.  Many athletes get this mixed up.  Because of this, they are not only losing minutes or possibly hours, but they could be hurting their health.  It will cost them more time to recovery and possibly lower their chances of being ready for the race.  The results can change dramatically when you focus on the right part of the equation, which is YOU.  It is about you, not the ego.  

Don’t be ashamed or afraid of having those runs be long and calm.  You will have success because of the foundation you are laying now.  If you train correctly, you will notice that the level of fitness you experience will continue to get higher and higher, which is what you want.  You will start to see you are able to run faster and faster without even trying to hurt yourself and while feeling good about.  Why try to hurt yourself when you are doing something good for yourself.”  Awesome Running Tips For Your Training and Racing, posted in Triathlon Training magazine

You can’t run too slowly on the long runs. Run at least two minutes per mile slower than you could run that distance on that day, accounting for heat, humidity, etc. – Jeff Galloway, running coach

The long, slow distance (LSD) run is the cornerstone of any long distance runner’s training program.   (One reason why the term “LSD run” is so appropriate is that it is one of the most reliable ways of getting the “runner’s high”).

Why do long slow distance runs?

The LSD run has many benefits.  First, it helps to adapt your joints and muscles to give them the endurance for long runs.  Second, it improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply in the muscles; it therefore enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles.  Third, it enhances your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy.  Fourth, it teaches your body to store more energy as glycogen in your muscles. And finally, long slow runs teach the body to run efficiently, minimising the energy expenditure needed to move you along.  Even if you are not training for a marathon, the long slow distance run is a key element in your overall fitness program.

How to do long slow distance runs

The LSD run should be run slowly to ensure that you are developing the fat-burning metabolic pathway, and to minimise the effect of fatigue and risk of injury. It should be around 20% slower than your marathon pace; or 25-30% slower than your half marathon pace.  You may be surprised at first how slow this seems.  If you use a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate within 60-80% of the working heart rate zone, or 70-85% of your maximal heart rate. – Running for Fitness

Training at an effort that allows you to stay injury free and train consistently will lead to better performance.   I use the same philosophy with my cycling and swimming.  I allow myself to go hard one day a week in the pool and that’s usually the day before a recovery day. Most of the time however, I try to maintain good form and keep my HR steady and think about being able to repeat the workout again the next day. Don’t get me wrong; when it’s time to go fast I go fast.  

‘Easy’ is relative to each of us. When I improved my running to a 5:40 pace, my easy runs became 7:00 pace, which was my race pace not too long before that. Still, I was training about 1:20 per mile slower than I was racing. That 7:00 pace was what I could maintain day after day. And when I couldn’t? I would back off to a 7:30 or 8:00 pace. You need to find your own ‘easy’ repeatable pace.  – Mike Ricci, D3 Multisport head coach and USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach, was selected to write the training programs for both the short and long course USA World Championship Teams from 2002 to 2005


9 thoughts on ““Good things come slow…”

  1. People, please PAY ATTENTION TO THIS! These are some of the best athletes and coaches IN THE WORLD. Do you honestly think because you have run a 2:05 half marathon that “you” know better than they do?? Really?? Star knows her stuff not because she took a class one day that gave her a certification. She studies & researches this like nuts. She learns from the top teachers in the world. So when we “recommend” that you slow down, it’s not because we don’t want you to get too good or too fast for our little group. It is so you will become a better & FASTER runner when it counts. I hope you are not spending all of this time and money for someone to give you a 5 mile route through Midtown…use the COACHING for your benefit. Take this advice…you do not know better, trust your coach.

  2. I”ll say it: the slow pace seems counter-intuitive. Slowing down to speed up? If you’re easy pace is faster, then your overall pace will be faster. Right? That’s kinda what I thought. And not much good comes from me thinking on my own when it comes to running.
    This post lays out the data and examples for me – basically, why the slow pace is good for overall performance. I didn’t really understand that “time on your feet” could (and would, according to this post) improve your overall time and speed.
    I’ll read this again but I don’t have to know that I’ll knock it into granny low for future “LSD” runs.
    Can I request a similar post in the future about recovery runs?

    • apparently i haven’t done a good job explaining this in the past- sorry about that. i often feel like a broken record. i always say everything you do on (and after) one run will affect your next one. this is why i say you can’t “make up” runs…it will affect your next run. if you go too fast when you’re not supposed to….it will affect your next run. if you don’t fuel after the run…it will affect your next run. i know i’ve said it a couple of times but you should run “easy” at least 80% of your miles. we’re getting the other 20% in with speed, tempo, and hills but if we were to do this type of stuff for 100% of our miles, we would all be in a cast by the time the marathon rolls around.
      i’ve always said if running slow is good enough for Olympians and world class athletes, it should be good enough for us….but i do also understand that you want to understand the “why” and “how” behind it. i’m glad this post was helpful to you and hope it is to many others!
      yes, i’m happy to post something on recovery runs. you’re wanting to know the why’s behind why we do them?

      • oh, and the broken record comment wasn’t directed at you! i meant that i feel like y’all are probably thinking, “geez, enough with the hydrating and going slow already!” you know me, i’m more than happy to research, explain, talk…whatever y’all need!

        • Ha! I’m glad you’re a broken record. Perhaps I need to pay closer attention to the lyrics! Yes, an explainer on recovery runs would be great! Thanks.

Got somethin' to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s