Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Hard to Run Slow

It's hard to run slow, and when I say slow, I don't mean it's hard for elites or world record holders to run slow, I mean it's hard for anybody to run slow--anybody who for one reason or another is running intentionally slower than his normal pace. We all have to do it from time to time whether it be nursing a hamstring back to health or forcing ourselves to take an easy day, and it's difficult.

Here are my top 5 reasons why it's hard to run slow:

1. Tripping
There's something about a slow pace that relaxes your awareness of the terrain. When I'm running fast, I never trip, fall, or roll an ankle. Only when strolling through the woods at a leisurely clip does a tree root or rock jump out and slap at my feet. I think, too, when we run slow, our biomechanics change a bit, maybe our strides are a bit shorter than usual, triggering a susceptibility to tripping. Or maybe we just drop our guard because we think "hey, I'm going slow. What could happen?"

2. Thinking
When you're moseying along a road or trail, your brain starts speeding up. You start to think about things your brain can't process when your body is running fast. Usually there are two slow paced thoughts that come to mind: 1) how slow you're going and 2) how fast you could be going. The second thought is the dangerous one. For me, this is where illusions of grandeur are born. I start to think about all the glorious workouts I want to conquer--8 x 1 mile at 5:30 pace with 60 seconds recovery. Or maybe I start to think about all the races I want to run or the PR's I hope to improve. Before I know it, my pace has progressed from saunter to gallop. Oh man, time to put on the bridle and pull on the reins. You see it's hard to run slow, which leads me to my third point...

3. Disciple
Running slower than normal demands discipline. It's hard to do. Some may say, "No way! How can slow running be difficult?" To you I say, "You're not running slow enough." I'll reference the elites here. Ryan Hall, for example, extols the virtues of running easy on easy days. Why the emphasis? Because it's hard to do. Still skeptical? Try typing on a keyboard or talking on the phone slower than you normally would. It's laborious. It's nearly impossible. It's anything but a respite. Same goes for running. To run slower than your natural pace takes good old fashion discipline and that's hard to come by.

4. More Thinking
If you're disciplined enough to stay slow on your jog, you often encounter doleful thoughts. One in particular comes to mind: I'm getting out of shape. You fear that you are becoming permanently slow. You convince yourself that you can feel it in your body. Right now on this very run I can feel myself losing conditioning. It's scary. Then you start to get fatigued and you can't help thinking: "Why am I so tired? This pace is slow." You've just given birth to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ignore it. Be mentally tough.

5. Ignoring the Little Things
When you've been running slower than normal for a number of consecutive days, you start to skimp on the little things. You don't stretch quite as much; you don't watch your nutrition as fastidiously; you opt out of throwing an ice pack on your calf while watching television. Because of these slow days, runners have the tendency to slip up on the burdensome but necessary tangential activities, but the irony is that we are running slow because we need to do them. Running is so enigmatic in this way. It's a constant test of mind and body.

Am I forgetting something? Do you have a reason why it's hard to run slow? Feel free to post a comment. (I am aware that I often used "slow" instead of the adverb "slowly" throughout the article but I felt the -ly too clunky to use throughout the whole article. Don't tell Lynne Truss on me.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dedication is key to train slo run...

You can aide slo runs by choosing to run slo on and after first quarter moon cycle(s)...

Run at or near sundown so it is dark enough to slo pace, and utilize moon for ambient lite, mood to trot slo...

Strap on hypnosis audio that excites right brain through binaural beats, and keeps left brain aka prollem child at bay...

Purrfect form for over an hour in peace and quiet and tranquil moon lit solitude...

Post a Comment