Sunday, October 27, 2013

Slow and Easy

Hola amigos! Long time no talk! Is Halloween really here already? Have I already been in Eugene for two months? What year is it?

Life continues as always, but as my workload's increased I've had less and less time for blogs. I'm able to read a few on my walk/bus to and from school (so, about my bike... the piece of junk derailleur broke off, which I took as a sign - along with my hate for biking - that I needed to find a new means of transportation. Bus it is! Eugene's bus system puts New York's to shame), but I'm currently rocking a 232 unread count. Whoops. That's what Christmas break is for, right?

The fall colors have been killer and it's been a joy to run in them, although running on leaf-covered, uneven sidewalks can be unnerving. 

In hobby jogging news, I hit 30.5 miles this week! This surprised me as a busy schedule forced me to do a fair amount of run-juggling, something I'm still trying to force my anal-runner-self to be okay with. I'm typically a "run now, work will hopefully get done later" kind of person, but I've realized that in grad school, it needs to be "work now, running will hopefully get done later." I should turn that into one of those motivational Pinterest pictures.

I also completed my longest post-marathon run yesterday: 9 miles! On the one hand, it's depressing that it's taken four months to get back to that distance but on the other hand, the run itself was not physically taxing at all. It's nice to see I haven't lost all my fitness!

My higher mileage this week reminded me of something I wanted to share with you guys: don't forget the importance of slow, easy miles.

Some people think slow mileage is "junk mileage." They believe that every run should have a purpose, and from what I can tell, that's code for "every run should be hard and/or fast." I suppose that could work well for someone who only runs three days a week (these plans are typically of the "run less, run faster" variety), but I think that easy miles are every bit as important as tempos/intervals/what-have-you.

The Hansons taught me this. Did I even need to tell you that? The Hansons taught me everything I think I know about running. And under their tutelage, I became the queen of slow, easy running. The majority of my runs were done 1-2 minutes slower than my goal pace (9:44). At first, running 11:38 miles seemed insane, especially since I had always (stubbornly) considered 9:30-10:00 to be my "easy" pace. Yeah right, Jeano!

As my mileage increased and I hit one new running milestone after another, I realized that none of it would have been possible without my slow runs.

The Hansons talk about a lot of physiological adaptations that result from slow running, such as the recruitment of slow-twitch fibers, using more fat (and less glycogen) as fuel, bigger mitochondria ("does this training plan make my mitochondria look fat?"), capillary development, blah blah blah. I'm no scientist so these things are largely meaningless to me. I was most interested in the structural changes that occur, namely tendon and joint development that assist the body in handling the higher-impact forces of fast running. This is important for everyone, but I felt it to be especially important for my minimalist-ish self.

If you want to know more about the benefits of slow runs... Google it. Or go ask Coach Holly. She's all-knowing and all-seeing.

Wait, why am I talking about slow running again? Oh, right, because I had forgotten how important it is. For the past few weeks, I've rushed through the majority of my runs, either because it felt awesome or because I had shit to do. I ran much faster than usual for many of my runs for two or three weeks, and was suddenly shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to find that one day, my body just ached. A lot. Apparently, feeling great immediately following a run doesn't mean you're in the clear. Eventually, it will catch up with you, as it did me. The past few days all of my runs have been done at a slower than 11:00 pace. My ego's a bit bruised (it's much harder for me to run slowly in Eugene than it was in Anchorage, probably because there are so many runner studs here), but my body's back!

End PSA.

Question: thoughts on slow running? Do you run a lot faster when you run by a lot of people like I do?


  1. I think each run should have a purpose and reason, even the slow ones. They are to build your base and I think even mentally prepare us to run for extended periods of time.
    Yea, grad school is tough.lots to read and write.

  2. Glad grad school is going well! Probably a good thing you decided to put work before running, being in grad school and all. But it also sounds like you're finding a decent amount of time to get some running done, too.

    Blue Pool looks awesome. Are you allowed swim in it?

    I am not under the tutelage of the Hanson brothers, but marathon training in general has forced me to slow my paces down. There's no way I could get through this higher mileage if I was still clinging to 9:40/mile as my "easy" pace. That was my easy pace... when my weekday runs never exceeded 4-5 miles. It's a good thing, though. I'd much rather run longer than run faster at this point. Which is also a good thing, since I'm signed up for a marathon and not a 5K.

  3. Ha, when I run near work (downtown DC), I see impressive splits fly by on my's like WHOA. And solely because other people are around and I MIGHT see someone I know..and if I don't, I'm "that fast girl" that runs during lunch...even though I'm only ever that fast during lunch ;).

    I really enjoy my slow and easy runs...they really help my legs recover and mentally give me a break. I just made a new 50k plan and was incorporated about 90% of the Hansons plan. I'm pretty pumped about it. I start with 12x400s tomorrow.

  4. When I'm training for something and actually doing speed work, I really need those slow recovery runs, both physically and mentally. I really need that twice weekly reminder of why I run and how enjoyable it is to go slow and check out the scenery.

    If I'm not training, then I just run hard if I feel like it and easy when I don't. Makes sense to me. :)

  5. As a fellow Hansonite, I agree with you! A lot of my speedy friends "easy runs" are still pretty quick! When I do a "recovery" pace, they all smoke me!
    my mitochondria is obese :(

    I enjoy slow running, just not telling the internet how slow i went, or getting smoked by local college students! Barf. *ego pain*

  6. Yep. Mostly slow running with some carefully placed faster running is where it's at (in my book). (Even though I haven't written a book.) Whatever.

    Anyway - yes...very much with you. And be kind to yourself regarding your running these days. Be sure you are using it as stress relief, not a stress-inducer. And if you don't have much time...don't go as far. The pressure of completing a run under time constraints can quickly make something fun become...less fun. But you probably already know this. It was probably in the Hansons' book. :)

  7. I am a firm believer in the Don't Run, Run Faster plan myself. I know that when I can finally run again, I'll be busting out times unlike any others I've ever seen before. Cuz I'll be all rested and shit...

    I have close family in Eugene.