my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

A lesson for beginner runners, or The Art of Running Slower, (not by Julian Goater!)

Image taken from:

Image taken from:

Running slowly is something that has not come easily to me. I have found going slower than my ‘usual’ pace difficult to stick to. I often run at or around 4:00/km. Today, I accomplished something mega. I ran all but 1km of my 10k commute to work at over 5:00/km!

How did I do it?

Well, I sought out some advice, as my previous attempts at ‘recovery’ runs were still coming in at around  4:30/km, meaning that I wasn’t really giving myself a proper recovery. My heart rate was still pretty high, and still hitting zones 3 and 4 (where a recovery run is meant to be mostly in zones 1 and 2, according to your maximum heart rate).

I had tried simply running more slowly, but looking back now, I realise how daft I’d been in my approach to it. I was effectively trying to slow down my running action (think slow motion). However, this was troublesome because it meant I was spending more time in contact with the ground, meaning I was putting in an awful lot of effort just to run more slowly. Surely this wasn’t the way to go?!

So, despite having a fairly sensible brain and having some initiative, I couldn’t quite work out how to run more slowly without putting in more effort. Then, it happened. A running friend of mine suggested shortening my stride. Keeping the leg turnover speed fairly normal, but taking smaller steps. I tried it on my run commute to work this morning with the express goal of running my slowest commute ever. I accomplished it! I ran a different route, and put in a quick km just to stretch out my legs. It made me appreciate how fast I normally run, compared to the pace I was running for most of my run today! This was a wonderful experience, and made me appreciate the difference in pace.

Here is my recovery run:

Check out my split times!

So, the lesson is…if you want to run slower, shorten your strides, don’t try to run in slow motion like I’d tried to!



8 comments on “A lesson for beginner runners, or The Art of Running Slower, (not by Julian Goater!)

  1. kylabee
    March 30, 2014

    I run with short strides and still don’t run that fast. Good job 🙂

    • barefoottc
      March 30, 2014

      Thanks Kyla!

      It’s funny – I changed my running style massively about a year and a half ago as I was getting heel pain, then just after the half marathon I trained for, I read Born To Run. After that, I tried running with a mid/forefoot landing, coupled with ensuring I only ‘hit’ the floor with my feet underneath my body. I saw an instant increase in pace and haven’t looked back since. So, trying to run slower without affecting my newish running style was just something I hadn’t thought too much about.

      • kylabee
        April 1, 2014

        I have never read that book but I think we may have it? I am not the best at settling down to read. I fall asleep even if it is a book I am interested in. ha!

        Some people have mentioned audio books so maybe I will see if I can find it that way and give it a go. Just not sure if I could run listening to a book? Falling asleep will running. That could be a new thing.

  2. Pingback: Week 4 of Running Around the World Recap – Early Bird Fitness | Victoria, BC, Canada

  3. The Running Schlub
    March 31, 2014

    We have the same challenge. I have trouble on my recovery runs because I just dont feel comfortable running at that pace because my body knows it can go much faster. Much like you I have been dedicating myself to taking smaller strides and really letting the run be what it is. My recovery runs have been much better in the last few weeks.

    • barefoottc
      March 31, 2014

      Thanks for your response! I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to be ‘ok’ with running more slowly! Glad to hear that your recovery runs are much better recently, keep it up!!

  4. Mike Wells
    April 2, 2014

    Great post Tim, deliberately running slower than feels “normal” is definitely tough, but it sounds like you’ve got it nailed now. I’m sure this will really help with your recovery runs – looking forward to seeing you streaking off at parkrun on Saturday!

    • barefoottc
      April 3, 2014

      Haha! Thanks Mike – looking forward to Saturday! Tapering for Manchester?!

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