Today’s run here in the great northwest was awesome.  I was running a trail called the Interurban along the Chuckanut mountains in Bellingham, Wa.    It’s a great run through forests and along the bay overlooking the San Juan Islands up here.

One thing that I see most every runner doing is something I want to write about today.  I’ll make another video about it soon.  Moat runners I run with will start their long run; or any run for  that matter, at the same pace they hope to run the entire run.  Many times, they actually start faster and a mile or so into it, slow down and settle into the pace of the run.  It happens with joggers and even with college and post collegiate fast runners. They tend to run the same pace.

Why is this not good?  In my opinion there is a much better way to run; and it’s actually the way the East African runners; the greatest runners in the world train.  Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie both start their runs at around 9 minutes per mile!  That’s incredible since their race pace is 4 minutes per mile for 5 k and well under 5 minutes per mile for the marathon!  They end up running 4:30 pace or faster on the end of the runs though.

My friends who I ran with in San Diego, Greg, Ben and Mick and I all naturally adopted a go out easy come back like the wind approach when we were training at our highest level.  We would many times start at 9 minutes per mile and end at 5 to 5:30 per mile for our fast paced saturday runs and on our easy runs start at 9 and end at 7 minutes / mile.

What that did for us was allowed our bodies to warm up; good for keeping us healthy. We also taught our bodies that every run would be faster in the second half.  And that allowed us to race the same way.  We saw so many of our friends running the 2nd half of races much slower than the first  half.  Of course they did; they trained to do that!

Another thing starting slow and finishing faster does is that as the run progresses you get more and more bouncy; more and more excited and finish feeling really fresh.  If all you’re doing is running distance runs at the same pace then the body gets tired; there is a fatigue both mentally and physiologically.  But if you end by having the second half of the runs faster by 1 minute / mile or more you feel awesome and it translates to better racing.

Try it and see how it goes if you like.  It take discipline to start slowing; jogging; and then picking it up gradually over the 2nd half of runs but once you get used to it, you may like it!  Another thing it did for us and a good way to do it is to have a group of all sorts of levels and jog with the tail end of a group and then work up thru t he group as the run progresses.  You may not finish with the first of the group but your pace will have been much more conducive to training your physiology to run fast.  Think of it. If the front of the group runs 7 minute/mile pace for the whole 13 mile run and you run 9 minutes the first mile, 8 the second and by half way 7 min/mile and then over the second half work down to 6 minutes/ mile, you’ve trained your body to pick it up and you still get the effect of the long run; time on your feet for building endurance.  Then on your easy days you can start at 9 and end at 8 min / mile over the second  half of the run; instead of running the whole thing at 8.  In this case you still get the recovery miles but feel fresh at the end and stay healthy too.


Let me know what you think and how it goes!  Ralph Havens PT



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