/ Slow Miles

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The New NickB - on 19 Sep 2012
Do you do many slow miles in your training and do they help?

All my training, which is regularly over 50 miles a week is either speed work, racing or longer stuff at what I would describe as the fast side of steady. Basically I do no running at what would be a slow pace for me.

I feel no ill effects from this, but would I benefit from more slow running.
Liam M - on 19 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Earlier in the year I made big improvements ( from a rather low starting point) based largely on a few months of 40mpw average of which rarely more than 10mpw were run at faster than HM + 90s pace.

I picked this advice up from another forum I use, and the arguments for a strategy like this working were several fold.

Firstly running easy pace allows you to increase the volume without risking injury.

Secondly, it means when you do speed work (intervals/tempo) you can go out really hard on it as your legs/body isn't tired from the previous sessions. You can also run the day after a very hard session, in a way you couldn't if you tried to run it at anything other than easy, and it can help with recovery (a critical part of making training work).

Thirdly, and possibly most significantly for endurance training it is supposed to be more effective for building an aerobic base. If you run very hard you build up the power, turnover etc. associated with quick running. If you run slowly you stimulate the body to become more effective at using fat as its fuel source. If you run just sub tempo, you do neither - it doesn't work it hard enough to make marked power/pace improvements, but still relies on using the glycogen (I think) stored in your muscles, and whilst it may have no ill effect on relatively short runs, it won't be making the improvements it potentially could.

Or at least this is my understanding of the reasoning for lots of training schedules advocating easy runs (including lsr ) very easily.
Liam M - on 19 Sep 2012
In reply to Liam M: correct first point - reduced risk of injury when increasing volume.
DancingOnRock - on 19 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Conventional wisdom says yes. Running slowly recruits more mitochondria which means you run more efficiently aerobically and burn fat more easily. This means the faster you run the strong aerobic base will mean you use less of your carbohydrates. Running fast inhibits the growth of the mitochondria.

You can also run much further if you run slower and build your endurance better.

50miles? Sub 3:30 marathon?
The New NickB - on 20 Sep 2012
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> (In reply to The New NickB)

> 50miles? Sub 3:30 marathon?

I am not marathon training at the moment, I will probably do London in April. My target would be sub 3, although I would be raising my mileage a bit.
gizmo - on 20 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB:

It depends what benefits you'r looking for.

I've just about finished reading 'The Art of Running Faster' by Julian Goater. It's largely an anecdotal book, but his main theme is that to get faster, you have to run faster. Whilst high-volume running, and slow miles can help build strength and stamina it is unlikely to increase your overall pace.
IainRUK - on 20 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: I do quite a bit slower.. especially my morning runs. I run twice a day most days now and the first run tends to be 8-9 minute miling then the second run harder.. sub 7, sub 6 depending on distance.
diddler - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB:

I always think that getting miles in is important, no matter what the pace, warm up, warm down all count.

On another note Arthur Lydiard had a lot of success coaching his athletes and getting a lot of miles in their legs, I know this was in the 60's but he knew what he was talking about. The more the merrier, to a certain point.
Ben Sharp - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Also read the art of running faster and it's a great book. It's not aimed at sprinters but more a discussion of why fast running is the best training for longer distance.

He basically argues the opposite of what Liam says in that running slowly doesn't prevent injuries, it causes them. I've come across that argument in a few different places and it makes sense to me. What seems to cause people injuries is a lack of strength/flexibility combined with a routine that is mostly slow running followed by a hard fast session out of the blue that the body isn't used to. The dynamics of running slowly can still put a considerable amount of stress on the body by the different running style in necessitates. Slow running might build up a base but if the OP is doing 50 miles a week at a good pace he's probably past that stage.

Having said that the people in the top field of marathons are usually the ones who have done the most weekly miles. My own (far from well informed!) view would be that adding more slow miles might be beneficial but as long as it doesn't replace the faster ones you do currently. Adding a couple of very short "recovery" runs at a slow pace on days or mornings/evenings when you wouldn't normally run might help up your millage without sacrificing your other runs. The advice I've heard about recovery runs is that if you do them, make sure they don't just turn into a steady run, keep them embarrassingly slow with the aim being to get a couple of miles in and feel fresh enough to run again ASAP.


Ben
wbo - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: There is a big element of horses for courses, and I can give you numerous examples to contrast and compare. There is also a trend at top level marathon at the moment to replace some interval training with long hard tempo running, but I would not want to start using that as a basis for advising casual runners what to do.

With the information you give noone can tell you if mroe slow running would help you or not (default answer is yes but....). I do not know how fast you race, how long and fast your sessions are , and what they consist of, and what pace you call the 'fast side of steady'. If, for example, you started doing some real brutes of sessions twice a week you might well find you had to start running slower as you're so wrecked, but I don't know from the info, and more importantly, you would need to assess if changing your training away from miles and into sessions improved your running.
Al Evans on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: No fan of Arthur Lydiard then?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Lydiard
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to The New NickB) No fan of Arthur Lydiard then?
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Lydiard

Lydiard doesn't advocate lots of slow pace running.
Al Evans on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: How do you do 100+ miles a week in the build up stage if it's not steady paced running? As I recall when running seriously this meant to Lydiard 7 min mile pace, this even for 800mt runners (Olympic medal winners)
Al Evans on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans: Incidently 7 min/mile pace, which most people can manage gives you something like a 3.01 marathon time, so if distance running is your aim a lot of people would be happy with that, add a bit of fartlek and interval training in the sharpening phrase and you are talking sub 2.50 for the marathon.
Thickhead - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Al Evans) Incidently 7 min/mile pace, which most people can manage gives you something like a 3.01 marathon time,


Most people can manage a 3:01 Marathon?
Liam M - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans: 7min/mile pace maybe considered fairly slow/steady to a someone with about 5min/mile marathon pace, but for most runners people it will be a fairly tough pace to sustain.

I'm trying to find the article that detailed it, but apparently Chris Thompson (elite 10k and HM runner) has an average pace in training of around 7.30min/mile, so probably best part of 3min/mile slower than his 10k race pace.

You often get tales from athletes who go out to train with Kenyan elites getting told to slow down on steady runs, even if their race pace is considerably slower than that of said elites.
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:

Steady paced, not slow. I do a lot of miles at 6:45-7 minute pace, mostly over tens miles or more, I also do some miles at 5:30-40, what I don't do is any miles slower than 8 minutes.

I agree that most people can run 7 minute pace or less, what most people can't do and what I will be trying to do is sustain that for 26.2 miles.
Liam M - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Just out of interest, could you give a rough breakdown of what sort of distance at what sort of paces you are doing in a typical week? I Think I have a vague idea of the order of your pbs from the fit club stuff, so would just be interested in relating the two.
DancingOnRock - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Your long run should be 7:45 or slower for a 3hour marathon. I think the aim is 20miles in your marathon time.
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Liam M:

This week:
Monday - 10 miles on the road with about 200m of ascent - 68 minutes.
Tuesday - 7 miles with club including 4 x 1 mile at 5:35.
Wednesday - 10 miles, same route as Monday, with slightly slower friend - 71 minutes.
Thursday - 7 miles with club 150m of ascent - 7:30 pace.

I'm having a bit of a rest today, I could run, but will be a bit short on time. Planning on doing about 13 miles tomorrow, probably with 300m+ of ascent in around 7 minute pace. I am out Saturday night so may just do a short run Sunday night.

I am racing less this year, but am now regularly under well 19 for 5k. I have run sub 40 10k and sub 1:30 halfs this years, but wasn't in particular good shape for either, so not sure what I could do at the moment.
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to DancingOnRock:

Should? Sounds very prescriptive, I tend to work on the basis of there being more than one way to skin a cat, I am more interested in what works for people than I am in rigidly following someone else's training programme.
Al Evans on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Thickhead:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
> [...]
>
>
> Most people can manage a 3:01 Marathon?

Not saying that, though actually I think it's true, I'm saying most people can manage a 7.00 min/mile pace for at least some distance, converting that into marathon distance usually requires a bit of training and discipline over longish distances.
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Thickhead)
> [...]
>
> Not saying that, though actually I think it's true, I'm saying most people can manage a 7.00 min/mile pace for at least some distance, converting that into marathon distance usually requires a bit of training and discipline over longish distances.

And then some, I can manage a 5:30 mile, I could go full time and never run a 2:24 marathon.
DancingOnRock - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: Based on your marathon time of 3hours. You asked if you should be running miles slower than 7min/mile. The answer is yes because your marathon pace is 6:50. 45-90sec a mile slower is 7:35-8:20 if that sounds a bit less prescriptive. Lol.
DancingOnRock - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Thickhead)
> [...]
>
> Not saying that, though actually I think it's true, I'm saying most people can manage a 7.00 min/mile pace for at least some distance, converting that into marathon distance usually requires a bit of training and discipline over longish distances.

I think your terminology of 'most people' needs adjusting. 7min/mile is a 45min 10k. Look at some race results and see that a large number of runners can manage a 7min/mile most runners can manage an 8:30 min/mile. Practically all can manage a 10min/mile.

Most people would struggle to manage a mile full stop.
Steve John B - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Thickhead)
> [...]
>
> Not saying that, though actually I think it's true, I'm saying most people can manage a 7.00 min/mile pace for at least some distance, converting that into marathon distance usually requires a bit of training and discipline over longish distances.

With respect Al that's nonsense. Look at the results for, say, a Parkrun (5K) and there will be loads of people slower than 22 mins; similarly over half the field in your average 10K will be slower than 44 mins.

I came 46th out of 400 doing 7 min miles in a 10K a few years back.

Most people CAN'T manage 7min/mile pace at all. I expect the average person in the street couldn't manage it running for a bus, never mind over 1 mile+

I think you don't realise that you were in the top 0.01% back when you were running! (and climbing, come to that!)

:-)
IainRUK - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: I think easy runs will help.

I actually find I run better at an evening track session after a steady run..

This week will be:

Sun: 13 miles, hilly road, 7:30 pace
Mon: 12.5 miles road @ 6:42 pace
tue: am: 4 miles @ 9 min miling. pm: 8 miles, with 4x1 mile reps at 5:40 pace
Wed: 12.5 miles road @ 6:30 pace
thur: am: 4.5 miles @ 9 min miling. pm: 7 miles with 2x2k reps at 5:50 pace
Fri: probably 8-9 miles on trails.. pace 8 mins ish
Sat: am: 8 miles with 5k race. pm: 8 miles @ 8 min miles

So a 90+ mile week, 3 effort sessions with 3 decent longish runs then the rest easy miles.

I have a sort of coach/advisor down in TX and he tells me my longish runs should be ~45 seconds off my marathon goal pace.. so 6:45 ish..
Liam M - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to Liam M)

>
> Planning on doing about 13 miles tomorrow, probably with 300m+ of ascent in around 7 minute pace.
>

This intrigues me, especially in the context of your op saying you feel no ill effect from the pace you hold. It's a pace barely slower than your HM race pace. I know if I go out and race a HM hard I'll feel it for a couple of days afterward, and wouldn't be in a hugely better position from having gone 15s/mile slower.

Indeed on Monday's run you did most of the distance at about HM pace and yet were fresh enough to do repeats at close to mile pace the day after. You still manage to run at a barely slower pace the day after. Any of these sessions alone would hurt me, let alone back to back. When does your body get time to recover between sessions?

I can't help feeling you're under performing on race day if you can truly do this without ill effect.

The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Liam M:

I think I have moved on a bit from my 10k and half marathon PBs, I have under performed in the two examples I gave, as I say my form wasn't very good at the time, plus both were tough races (hills for one, wind for the other). I didn't taper for either race.

I think one of the things that has improved is my ability to recover, I was surprised how well I went on Tuesday after Monday and I was holding back a lot on Wednesday to stop me running away from my training partner.

It seems to be working for me, but I am just wondering if I am missing something. I think I will stick with it for a bit, but when I start adding marathon mileage, ensure that some of it is slower.
IainRUK - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: I agree with Liam.. I think you should be a lot quicker in races.. especially after 5:35 reps.. they should be almost at your 5k pace..

If feeling fresh I'll do 5:20 reps and that's about my 5k pace, I fact I think my 5k pb is 5:11 or so.

At the moment I'm doing my reps a bit slower as I'm just adding reps to a 90 mile week and feeling it tbh. But I'm away so don't mind getting beaten in races as they are just quality training sessions.
The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to IainRUK:

I appreciate that I probably need to MTFU a bit in races!
IainRUK - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: The odd blow up is no bad thing.. I tend to race sensibly but will occassionally stupidly go off for a win and it will go badly.. But all my pb's have been ran on sensible race strategies.. apart from a marathon.. I still haven't ran close to even splits.

The best race I had was a 10 miler, 56 mins or so, and I sat at my pace all race, I was way down and moved through nicely.

5k's are hard though, you need to hurt the whole race really..
alicia - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
>
> Steady paced, not slow. I do a lot of miles at 6:45-7 minute pace, mostly over tens miles or more, I also do some miles at 5:30-40, what I don't do is any miles slower than 8 minutes.
>
> I agree that most people can run 7 minute pace or less, what most people can't do and what I will be trying to do is sustain that for 26.2 miles.

So you are doing most of your regular runs (i.e. not speedwork) at or below your marathon race pace, while training for a marathon? There might be disagreement about certain aspects of training but I don't think anyone advocates doing that...

Maybe the problem is your definition of "slow"? Running "slowly" doesn't have to mean jogging around; it just means slow in comparison to your race pace. For example, there's a team of pro women marathoners who train near where I live. They do their regular runs around 6:30 min/mile pace, even though their race pace would be 5:40 or 5:50ish.

Do you have The Lore of Running? There's a good chapter that goes through the different training ideas of a bunch of coaches and experts (e.g. Lydiard, Daniels, the Kenyans) so you can get an idea of who recommends what, and the physiological reasons why.
DancingOnRock - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> I appreciate that I probably need to MTFU a bit in races!

That's exactly what I found. My race paces, training paces and heart rate were completely at odds. Knocked 6 minutes off my Half Marathon PB in 2 weeks just by running faster and could probably have knocked another 5 off on paper.....

Problem is you can't race a marathon that often or you get broken. Possibly ;)

TheDrunkenBakers - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Al Evans) Incidently 7 min/mile pace, which most people can manage gives you something like a 3.01 marathon time, so if distance running is your aim a lot of people would be happy with that, add a bit of fartlek and interval training in the sharpening phrase and you are talking sub 2.50 for the marathon.

Im runnin 10-12k ever other day now (first time ive ever really got into running) at about 9min per mile. 7k per miles would feel like trying to climb everest in my t-shirt. Well done to you but I can assure you most people absolutely cannot manage 7min/mile pace :) Doesnt stop me wishing I could though.

The New NickB - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to alicia:
> (In reply to The New NickB)
> [...]
>
> So you are doing most of your regular runs (i.e. not speedwork) at or below your marathon race pace, while training for a marathon? There might be disagreement about certain aspects of training but I don't think anyone advocates doing that...
>
No, I am not training for a marathon at the moment. If I was the bulk of my training would still be marginally slower that my target marathon pace, just not by much.

> Do you have The Lore of Running? There's a good chapter that goes through the different training ideas of a bunch of coaches and experts (e.g. Lydiard, Daniels, the Kenyans) so you can get an idea of who recommends what, and the physiological reasons why.

I do, I will have a read.
SteveRi - on 21 Sep 2012
Your race times do sound a bit soft Nick. I don't really do much road so don't have many times, but you're only a bit quicker than me. I doubt I could run a single sub 6' mile, never mind 5'30 reps. I'm 48 and start getting joint problems if I consistently do more than about 30m a week. So I don't :)

And Al's kidding someone with 'most people can run 7 min miles'. Look at any mass participation race and you'd be right up there. I just looked at a random local club league 9k race. You'd have been 136/256 doing 7' miles, so only just bottom half. That's all club runners. It's not fast, but you know, that's where we are now.
Al Evans on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Steve John B:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
> [...]
>
> With respect Al that's nonsense. Look at the results for, say, a Parkrun (5K) and there will be loads of people slower than 22 mins; similarly over half the field in your average 10K will be slower than 44 mins.
>
> I came 46th out of 400 doing 7 min miles in a 10K a few years back.
>
> Most people CAN'T manage 7min/mile pace at all. I expect the average person in the street couldn't manage it running for a bus, never mind over 1 mile+
>
> I think you don't realise that you were in the top 0.01% back when you were running! (and climbing, come to that!)
>
> :-)

Sorry I meant most runners, not most people, and I don't think I have ever been in the top 0.01% of anything. I just think if you apply yourself to something you get ok at it, obviously if you are just running to get fit then it's just like going to the gym and no, what I said will not be true.
I go back to what I said on the climbing in the first year thread, you are a product of your peers, my climbing peers are well known, my running peers were Phil Burke, Bob Toogood, John Wild, Kenny Stuart and lots of others you have probaby never heard of, but being with the best at your sport makes you yourself better.
wbo - on 22 Sep 2012
In reply to The New NickB: The reason your race times look a bit soft Nick is that all your training is at one pace ( I am very cynical of club road miles sessions in general) and so that's the pace you'll race at. Add some sessions, including proper hills and you'll soon start to see benefits, and the merits of slow runs soon.

Ian, for someone looking to run 6 min miles for a marathon your rep sessions seem very short, and not very fast. However I am not your coach.... the issue with doing long runs so-so fast is that come race day that may well be the pace you end up running as that's what you're setup to do. The alternative is to do long runs of say 2.30 - 2.45 slow, but do something like a 10 or 12 mile (or even a 16) at race pace every few weeks
IainRUK - on 22 Sep 2012
In reply to wbo: I know.. I've stepped up to 90 miles so have just introduced reps. I aim to go to 6-8 mile reps at 5:20 sort of pace.

But yeah think I need 10-12 milers at race pace.
IainRUK - on 22 Sep 2012
In reply to wbo: What do you call slow by the way?

I was wondering about the pace of my long runs so spoke to a coach/advisor I have in TX.. he was a 2:36 marathoner but coached more runners to the olympic trials than any other coach in the US in recent years..

He reckons ~45 seconds/mile off race pace.. at my pace and that my 6:30's were a tad too quick.

Today I did 16.1 at 6:45 pace which was easy but to be honest in the philly heat with no food and water the last mile or two became hard work.
wbo - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to Ian - what's 'slow' is a good question. Not hard enough to hurt your logs and compromise your sessions I suppose.Also it depends on how many hard things you do a week - the more quality there is, the worse you'll feel between sessions.

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