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Posted: February 5, 2013  :

(IAWR) Athletics: Common Training Mistake -- Running Long Slow Runs Too Fast

Common Training Mistake -- Running Long Slow Runs Too FastAs a runner for 33 years and a coach for 12 years, a common training mistake I see many runners make is running their long slow distance runs too quickly. Medium pace is their default running speed

When they should be running slowly, they don't run slowly enough. When should be running fast, don't run fast enough. Thus, they fail to derive the particular benefits that each specific type of run should provide. The result? Even though these runners put in many long hours of training, they never come close to reaching their full potential on race day.

By running their long slow runs too fast, they cheat themselves out of the benefits that these runs are designed to provide, such as:

  • strengthening slow twitch fibres
  • increasing resistance to muscle fatigue
  • teaching the body to tolerate being out on the roads for extended periods of time.
  • ..... not to mention detracting from the enjoyment of the run itself!

Delayed recovery due to running long runs too fast negatively impacts subsequent training and increases the likelihood of overtraining and injury risk.

These "medium speeders" also shortchange themselves of the intended benefits of fast paced workouts:

  • training fast twitch muscle fibres
  • improving running-specific strength
  • enhanced running efficiency and economy
  • training the cardiovascular, muscular, nervous systems to sustain faster paced running.

What to do?

Conduct your long easy runs at a pace that you can easily carry on a conversation.

Slow the pace if you feel yourself labouring. -- regardless of what the group you are running with may be doing. If your group tends to run too fast, resist the urge to speed up. Join them for a post-run coffee.

To paraphrase Tuco (the character played by Eli Wallach in "The Good The Bad and The Ugly") "If you're supposed to run slow, run slow. If you're supposed to run fast, run fast". Reserve medium for how you would like your meat prepared. It should rarely be a workout speed.

© 2012 Savvy Runner Inc.

Bennett Cohen and Gail Gould are the Founders and Presidents of the International Association of Women Runners. For access to resources to help you reach your goals for running and racing, visit

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