by John Schrup
I know whatcher thinking. You’re thinking, how rude!
Maybe not. More likely, you’re thinking, this guy again? Wordy sumbitch.
Some time ago, yesterday, I had a conversation with someone in the group. Nothing specific, but we were talking about the heat and humidity, and how hot the heat is, particularly when you add in some really humid heatness. That was pretty much the gist of it.
And so yesterday I got to thinking, which is in and of itself not good, and what I was thinking was that we—endurance junkies, that is—need to slow the fuck down. Whoa!Whoa!Whoa! Hode up! I’m trying to get my GDBQ and you’re telling me to STFD? Dude, that’s a lot of capital letters!
Yeah, we need to slow down. I’m not talking about in our daily lives. I’m not gonna get all enlightenment on you, that’s for another day. What I’m talking about is when you run. You need to STFD when you run. And here’s why:
One, it’s hotter than Hades and you’re going to slow down anyway. In the summer, we practice running on feel, so you’re going to have to get used to running slower and being ok with it. Your body is going to be working harder anyway to regulate your body temperature, so you’ll be working against it if you try to keep your pace consistent with your pace when the temperatures are cooler. You will be able to handle the heat much easier if you are in the mindset that you’re just going to go from A to B, and not worry about how fast you got there. Put down the GPS.
B, most of us run too fast on our easy days anyway. If you aren’t recovering from the last workout or run, you’re not going to be prepared for the next one. In large groups, the etiquette is to run as slow as the slowest in that group. That’s how you do it, not the other way around. On easy days—and in the summer almost all days are easy days—it is wise to run with people slower than you anyway, to keep yourself in check. The longer you run easy—and most importantly, relaxed—the better you can program your body to run properly, rewiring your motor patterns, relearning how to run with some fluidity.
Third, if you really want to know what it is like to run easy, you’d do well to imitate the Kenyans. It is well known that the Kenyans are, generally speaking, real, real fast. But what isn’t discussed as often is how easy they run on easy days. I talked to one guy who spent some time in Kenya training with the old FILA camp. He told me that when the schedule called for a recovery day, he was surprised that the group would cruise along at seven minutes pace or slower. And this is with a group that raced marathons at faster than five minutes per mile. I’m no math whiz, but that’s almost 30% slower than race pace. Are you running 30% slower than race pace on your recovery days? Probably not. So if you’re shooting for a 4 hour marathon and you are running 9:30’s on your easy days, chances are you aren’t recovering properly.
What was even more interesting was that every single day, easy or otherwise, the Kenyans will warmup at an effort that would be slower than most of our warmups. Several years ago I ran with a group of Kenyans in Albuquerque. And when I say ran with, what I mean is that I ran with them on their warmup. From where we began to the track was two miles. It took us nearly 20 minutes to get there. The whole time I was thinking, Oh, yeah, maybe I’ll just do part of the workout with them, just a few quarters. That lasted all of about 50 meters.
STFD! You’re not going to be able to get in the volumes you need to get in to run really fast if you are injured. And you’re not going to remain healthy if your body isn’t recovering from the previous run or workout. Get out of that grey area. Modulate your efforts. Be easy so you can be fast.