Are you running too fast?

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Are you running too fast?

Running too fast on easy runs - the most common mistake runners make

I’ve done it too many times.

 

I laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door with my coaches’ words in mind: “Heart rate should stay in zone 2.” But with the beep of my watch and a few steps into the run, they vanished into oblivion.

 

This was going to be a good run. Each time I checked my pace, I was surprised I was running well below 7:30min/miles because it felt so effortless. But each time I checked my heart rate, I would watch it climbing from zone 2 into zone 3 into zone 4 as I kept going, reminding me my coaches’ words.

 

Did it make me slow down? Not really. 

Because it was much more fun to run fast. Because running slow just doesn’t feel like running. Because slowing down doesn’t get me into the flow state that I love about running.

Regret doesn’t settle in until a day later when I would take out my flats for a tempo session. As I lined up for the 1,000m repeats, my legs were heavy before even starting to run and the last 200m of each repeat felt like lactate was killing my quads. No matter how hard I ran, I wasn’t able to meet the times I was supposed to.

 

Long story short, it took me a while to understand that running too fast for easy runs doesn’t make me faster in the long run. And scrolling through Strava is proof enough that I am not the only runner who struggles to slow down. Keep reading to find out why this is a bigger problem than you think!

The most common mistake is running too hard on recovery days

Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running, says that most runners make the mistake of running too fast for their easy runs. While 80% of your weekly training should be done at low intensity, he suggests that only 20% are supposed to be at moderate or high intensity. So, if you’re running five times a week, your heart rate should stay in zone 2 in four of these runs. The fifth run could be a tempo run or hard workout.1

This is why running too fast for easy runs will make you race slower

It’s a common misconception that only running fast will make you faster in races. In fact, it is the other way around.

High quality tempo workouts will give you the speed you need to race fast. But easy long runs will give you the fitness to keep up that pace for a longer time.

Now running too fast on recovery days will do two things. First, it will cost you too much energy which you could otherwise have used for a speed workout on the track. This means that your workout will lose quality as it will be much harder to meet the times you wanted to run. Secondly, running too fast for easy runs, with your heart rate above 80% of your maximum heart rate, might get you into the anaerobic zone rather than the aerobic zone. In this case, your body is producing more lactate than the body can break down and your legs will feel sore and heavy after or at the end of your run.2

 

Experts recommend a polarized approach to training, which means that you will either train in the aerobic zone (low intensity) or in the anaerobic (high intensity).1 Moderate intensity runs should be only a small part of your training, as it puts you right in the mid zone which trains neither your aerobic fitness nor anaerobic.

Low-intensity training is the foundation for speed work

Some people say that easy miles are “empty” miles that put you at higher risk for injury. This is only true to some extent.

If you are someone who likes to stick to running and avoids cross-training by all means, you need those easy runs to build up your basic fitness. Triathletes or someone who enjoys other endurance sports might consider recovery runs as useless as they can do their low-intensity training in the pool or on the bike. Any low-intensity activity will help build an aerobic base — your “fitness”.

To make sure that you are staying in the aerobic state, wear a heart rate monitor and aim for 60–75% of your maximum heart rate.3

The best runners of the world run easy on recovery days

When British missionaries built schools in rural Kenya, they did not know they were turning Kenya into the fastest nation of the world. Most students had to run to class every single day, which was essentially a low-intensity running program. Up until today, many elite runners from Kenya are known for running more than 80% of their training volume at an easy pace.1

 

It’s a similar story for most elite running teams in the US. Elite marathoners of the Mammoth Track Club even run 85–90% of their weekly mileage at an easy pace, says head coach Andrew Kastor.4

We get stronger on recovery days

Mozart once said that the breaks in between tones make the music. Just like that, we need recovery and rest days to bring harmony and balance into our training. So even if you’re feeling like you could run the race of your life when your training schedule says “4 miles easy”, you should stick to it. Remember, running your easy runs easy will shave off those 5 seconds you need for a new PR. 

References

1 Fitzgerald, Matt. 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower. Penguin Books, 2015.

2 Jeff, Coach. “Want to Run Your Best? Understand Aerobic vs. Anaerobic.” Runners Connect, 1 June 2020, runnersconnect.net/aerobic-vs-anaerobic-training/.

3 Russell, Sarah. “Are You Sabotaging Your Long Run Running the Wrong Pace?” Runners Connect, 9 May 2016, runnersconnect.net/wrong-long-run-pace/.

4 “How Running Slower Makes You Faster.” On, www.on-running.com/en-de/articles/how-running-slower-makes-you-faster-marathon-training-tips.

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About The Author

I did my first triathlon on a pink kid’s bike with training wheels at six years old. That’s where my love for the sport was born, but it took another decade until I figured out that I wanted to combine my passions for sports and writing. 

 
Beyond Limits

Everything Endurance Sports. 

Disclaimer

All resources and information shared on this website are only for informational purposes and aren’t intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or disease.

Copyright © 2022

10 Foam Rolling Secrets Everyone Should Know About

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10 Foam Rolling Secrets Everyone Should Know About

In the corner of my living room, there’s a container filled with foam rollers of all shapes and sizes. Cylinders, balls, mini balls, double balls, mini rollers. I sometimes make a detour around that corner of my apartment because I feel guilty for not using them as often as I should. But since doing research for this article, I’ve stopped avoiding foam rollers. Keep reading if you want to know why and if you want to learn how to use foam rollers the right way.

 

1. Always roll in only one direction/towards the core

Most people think that foam rolling is supposed to be a back-and-forth movement. Experts, however, recommend foam rolling in only one direction. There are two reasons for this.

 

Venous valves, which control blood flow, open up towards the glutes instead of the lower leg. That’s why it is detrimental to the venous valves if you’re rolling in the wrong direction. In the long run, this can even lead to varicose veins. However, when you’re only rolling towards the heart, your connective tissue loosens up and reduces stiffness.1

 

Fascia contains water which is expelled under compression. That’s why foam rolling has positive effects on muscles stiffness and flexibility.2 You will achieve the greatest effects when rolling towards the core instead of back and forth.

2. Pre-rolling improves sprint performance

If you’re a sprinter, you might want to consider foam rolling prior to exercise because it improves flexibility and therefore your sprint performance. Studies also suggest that the fact that athletes perceive less pain after foam rolling makes them run faster.3

3. Post-rolling improves recovery, speed, and strength performance

You’ve probably heard it before, but if you foam roll after intense exercise, your body needs less time to recover.3 And the faster you recover, the more time you have to get in quality training, which means that you’ll also get faster easier.

4. Foam Rolling breaks down trigger points

Trigger points are “muscle knots” of about 2-10mm in the myofascia. They are palpable and when compressed, they can elicit local twitch responses or jump signs.4 Trigger points can be one reason for unexplained aches and pains. Foam rolling can break those trigger points and therefore saves you from muscle pain (and possibly from a few visits to the physio).5 When you find a sore spot while you are foam rolling, pause and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Expect it to be painful, but it’s worth it!

5. Feedback on recovery status

If you foam roll on a regular basis, you can use the feedback you get through muscle pain to evaluate the workout’s effect on your body. Normally, your legs will be very sore after running intervals, so foam rolling will be more painful than after an easy run. This feedback can also be a great way to find out if you have recovered well after a hard workout or race and determine when you can schedule the next tempo run.

6. Treatment of injuries

Foam rolling increases blood flow in sore muscles and increases circulation.2 Depending on what kind of injury you have, be careful not to roll exactly on the spot that is hurting. For example, if you’re dealing with Achilles tendonitis, you should roll your calves and the sole of the foot as they are often related to the pain in your tendon. Make sure to talk to your doctor or physio to find out which areas you can foam roll and which to stay away from.

7. Do not roll your IT band

The IT band is not a muscle. If you are dealing with iliotibial band issues, the pain might be caused by muscular imbalances in other areas. So even if your IT band is hurting, you’re not treating the real problem by foam rolling it. Matthias Scheible, expert in physio therapy and osteopathy, recommends foam rolling the surrounding muscles instead. This includes the glutes, quads, and the hamstrings.

8. Do not roll with excessive force

Before you go all in with foam rolling, put only little pressure on your muscles at first. If the pain lessens right away, you’re good to go. If it takes more than 10 to 15 seconds to disappear, Matthias Scheible recommends to stop foam rolling as the pain might be caused by something else than sore muscles. In this case, foam rolling can even be detrimental to your muscles or the surrounding tissue.

9. Diversify your foam rolling

There are a lot more kinds of foam rollers out there than the cylinder. Generally speaking, the smaller the foam roller, the more punctual the compression on the muscle.

 

Here’s what to do with which foam roller:
Ball: This is your tool to break down trigger points even more efficiently. Roll your calves, foot, or shoulders.
Cylindric foam roller: This one’s best for rolling your hamstrings, quads, or latissimus.
Mini foam rollers: Because of their small size, these foam rollers are great for traveling. They work best for your calves and feet.
Double balls: There’s a gap between the two balls so that you can roll the areas alongside your spine.

10. Your foam roller is also a good training tool

Did you know that your foam roller is more than a recovery tool? You could also use it to mix up your strength training routine! 

We all respond to foam rolling differently but research shows that it has both preventive and regenerative effects on muscle soreness after exercise.5 If you want to improve your flexibility, speed, and recovery time, you should add foam rolling to your recovery routine, but treat it like an addition to stretching and strength exercises, not a replacement.

 

References

1 “Faszienrolle: Verursacht Sie Krampfadern Oder Was Kann Sie Wirklich?” Health Tv, 2019, www.healthtv.de/mediathek/666/Faszienrolle_Verursacht_sie_Krampfadern_oder_was_kann_sie_wirklich.html.

2 Laffaye, Guillaume, et al. “Self-Myofascial Release Effect With Foam Rolling on Recovery After High-Intensity Interval Training.” Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 10, 2019, doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.01287.

3 Wiewelhove, Thimo, et al. “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery.” Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 10, 2019, doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00376.

4 Paul Ingraham, updated Jun 25. “The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain (2020).” Www.PainScience.com, 2020, www.painscience.com/tutorials/trigger-points.php.

5 Fleckenstein, Johannes, et al. “Preventive and Regenerative Foam Rolling Are Equally    Effective in Reducing Fatigue-Related Impairments of Muscle Function Following Exercise.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, Uludag University, 1 Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29238246.

Post Tags

About The Author

I did my first triathlon on a pink kid’s bike with training wheels at six years old. That’s where my love for the sport was born, but it took another decade until I figured out that I wanted to combine my passions for sports and writing. 

 
Beyond Limits

Everything Endurance Sports. 

Disclaimer

All resources and information shared on this website are only for informational purposes and aren’t intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or disease.

Copyright © 2022