Train Slow to Race Fast

I was recently discussing my half marathon training with a co-worker (triathlon extraordinaire) and was informed I needed to slow it down. I was surprised to hear this, especially since I had been so proud of my 8:10 averages and felt so much stronger this time around. But after doing some research, I realized what damage I could be doing to myself and wanted to share what I found.

Train slow to race fast. That was the common theme across all of the articles I read. It’s no surprise that in order to compete, a lot of miles have to be put into training. If you are constantly running at a high intensity during training, burn out is more likely. By training slow, you are able to avoid burn out and increase your average weekly mileage, which research has shown is the best indicator of racing performance.

While this all made sense to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was always training slow, how would I get faster if I didn’t practice it? In steps the tempo run. While this has been on my training plan for the past couple of months, it was the thing I struggled with the most. I was running so hard during my other training days that when it came to tempo day, I didn’t want to do it and hoped the occasional sprint at my cross-training classes would be enough (it’s not). But if you want to get faster, it’s something that has to happen.

I have already made a few adjustments to my plan: taking my long run at a 10-minute pace and actually doing the tempo run on Thursdays but I plan to make the real changes once marathon training begins (since half marathon training is about to be wrapped up) and can’t wait to see how it affects my race. I love that this sport is always pushing me and is a constant learning process. I welcome your thoughts on training slow or other things you may have learned along your own journey!



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