Running slow is difficult in particular when you are running to a maximum heart rate, and in particular your MAF. It has been for me – it feels like I could be passed by a tortoise.
My MAF (maximum aerobic function) is 124 (180 less my age) bpm. It had been real difficult to stay below this rate while running. If it wasn’t for the benefits of running to this, it would be something I’d have stopped trying after my first attempt at it.
Herb Reeves released the below video a few months ago and it made a difference to my running slow style. I could actually run slow and keep my heart rate below my MAF.
For me, running at MAF, and others (I believe I’m not the only one?) it can mean there is more walking than running as you just can’t run slow enough. It is frustrating to say the least. I’d run a few yards and then walk a few more and then run then walk and so on.
This can help your aerobic system but does mean you’re not running most of the time and you’re probably missing out on the training of muscles, tendons etc for running.
Running Slow Is Frustrating
So running hard is slow. When the pace being dictated by the heart rate monitor is more than 12 minutes a mile as it was in my case. There was no way I could get to that pace and I could walk/run faster when I tried to keep below my MAF rate.
It still wasn’t quick I started at 12:42 per mile at my best and over 13 minutes per mile a lot of the time. So far I have reduced that to 10:33 per mile – not fast but at least I’m getting there and I’m running at least.
This personal best was before my big race this year the 69 mile The Wall Ultra. Even with that I did okay in the race. I wasn’t the quickest but I was nearer the front than I was in shorter races being in the top 1/3rd of finishers with 15 hrs 23 minutes 28 seconds finish.
It wasn’t the only thing I did – I was intermittent fasting and my weight was down from my usual 13 stone (182 lbs) to around 12 stone ( 168 lbs) to help with the fat burning.
On longer training runs I did slow to a run/walk and sometimes to just a walk once I’d gone further than 10 – 15 miles as my heart rate would drift upwards as I tired.
Running Slow Ideas From Video
The important video ideas are about posture, stride length and cadence.
When I’ve tried to run slow previously it was about slowing the leg turnover and focus on being slower. This is not what is recommended in the video. You need to optimise cadence and also stride length, with stride length increasing to increase pace as you develop the aerobic system.
The way you start off is important too with the running on the spot before moving on.
One of the reasons given for poor times while implementing MAF is running technique which the video helps to address. (There is more to this of course with weight, diet, stress, injury record, muscle imbalances and tight hips etc. all playing a part in improving the aerobic system.)
On my runs initially, at least, I was saying to myself small steps, light feet and quick feet to keep myself on track. On top of that was trying to not slouch as I run by reminding myself to stay straight and be slightly forward as I went.
This doesn’t mean I’ve been able to run uphill or even slight inclines where I need to walk. So it is still frustrating to say the least. I’m still hoping it will be worth the slog to run faster avoiding injuries and finding it easier too.
I am hopeful I’ll see more improvement, less frustration. The running slow does feel better and is more enjoyable than the run/walk and almost feeling free but there is always the beep of the watch as heart rate moves over the maximum to bring you back to reality when moving a little too quick.
I will be going through another base building period once I’ve run the Snowdonia Marathon and start training the Thames Pathway 100 miles in May 2019.
Other tips for running slow are give here The Balanced Runner which does contradict the speed of your stride rate a little bit but does say don’t slow it too much but find a comfortable rate rather than try reducing the length of stride. The best tip here is about your arms and how to use them differently than when running quicker.
Have you tried any of the techniques discussed here or shown in the video or have you found your own that have helped in running when inhibited by your MAF heart rate? Please let me know in the comments below.