As I rejoined running after a 10+ year absence, I realized very quickly that this was going to be painful. Not painful in the way of injuries or endurance running. No, it was the pain of being the slowest runner in the pack. I once ran a :52 400m and a 4:54 mile in practice in high school. Never ran either of those events competitively but ran the 800 (OD)/1000 (ID) instead. I was used to short bursts of speed, but not prolonged speed. Not endurance runs. The longest I can ever remember going out was for 3 mi runs and that was with the XC team, for fun, not for training.
Over the last 10 years I have tried unsuccessfully to revive running in my life, but it wasn’t until this year when I crossed 200lbs that something clicked. I was tired of being that guy, so I committed to a race, and a plan. That led to another race, another plan and so on until I hooked up with a local running club, the Genesee Vally Harriers. I met Coach Reif, learned about VDOT training per the Jack Daniels Formula, and continued on my quest to tackle a marathon. During this time I was the one on the track, in the back, running slow. I was pushing my body however, I desperately wanted to look and feel faster. I would run my easy paces faster to hide my shame. I did my marathon and exhausted my body. When I came back from the marathon I began trying to run faster, thinking I was faster and I could easily hold the easy paces. My body started to break down again, something was wrong.
I remembered reading an article in Runner’s World pertaining to slowing it down, and the importance of easy runs. And a couple weeks back I started reading Jack Daniels running formula and realized I was doing it all wrong. The nagging voice was right and I refused to listen.
“You may think you’re faster, AND YOU ARE, but you need to heed your paces”
I was missing the vital point in my training, the thing that makes the training meld together well. Running slow, and embracing it. According to my VDOT I was supposed to be running a 9:51 pace. This makes me feel like a slug. SO I was trying to run them at 8:30-9:00 pace ,because I could handle it. However I found my legs were sore (more than normal) and it was harder to hit my speedworkouts. It’s really hard when you want to talk to the other runners but they insist at a faster pace, so it was easier to just join them.
Boy was I wrong.
After coming to my realization of HOW WRONG I was, I decided to heed the voice, and heed my paces. I began to run at my easy pace for my VDOT, I also began working (and still am) on honing in my cadence on the easy runs. I noticed a change over my last 4-5 speed/tempo workouts and my last couple races: I have more energy, my legs are recovering faster. I am still getting my miles in, and when it comes time to run those speedworkouts I hit my paces with ease rather than feeling drained.
Heeding to the power of slow is a GOOD THING, embrace it. There will always be time to go fast, but it is important to know when to cut it back. I even feel a VDOT change coming in the near future…