If you run faster, you’ll get faster.
This summer, a gentleman called me to ask for training advice. He mentioned that he ran really slowly and never seemed to improve. He was having some knee problems and was concerned that he was going to really injur himself.
After listening to him and his training habits I merely offered the following advice.
The man was a little taken aback but I explained to him that by running faster, he’d actually be doing his knees a favor. You see by jogging or running at a slow pace you actually put more pressure on your knee than if you were to run quicker and lighter on your feet. Not everyone has good biomechanics, and sometimes that is a factor but in general, the longer you take move forward with each step, the longer all your weight is on your knee and knee joints and that puts pressure on the whole system. By running faster, through time your fitness increases and you run faster with less effort on your joints.
How Slow is Too Slow?
It’s tricky but if you have been running say, at a 10 minute mile for over six months, it’s time to take it up a notch. Let’s say you can run 3 miles in 30 minutes and you run the same 30 minutes 3-5 days a week.
Guess what, you can definitely run 3 miles in 30 minutes 3-5 days a week. You body will adapt to this and unless you push your body to go further and/or faster or both, your fitness won’t increase much and I’m sure you’ll be bored after a while.
When do I speed up or go longer?
There are a LOT of training programs out there. But as I have mentioned in other articles – see Increase Distance, Not Pain, running can be increased in small increments which your body will adapt to over time. You’ll also get faster over time.
To increase speed, simply try running faster. See if you can finish your 3 mile runs in 29 or 28 minutes. Believe it or not, you probably can quite easily and you’ll find that after the second week you do this, that your time will get faster and stay faster. To increase your fitness even more – increase one of your weekly runs by 1 mile. See if you can run 3 miles 4 times a week and then on a weekend, run 4 miles. Run the 4 miles at whatever pace feels comfortable, but not too fast. A good article to read is: Guide to Increasing Mileage Safely.
At these distances the body will not break down so much, but as you reach 18 miles or more a week, you’ll need to be cognizant of a whole myriad of things including your calorie intake. Make sure you are eating and sleeping enough. Make sure you are taking vitamins if you eat poorly. A nice little article to help you get to 20 miles a week is “Build Up to 20 Miles Per Week.”