Running or walking, 2 endurance activities that have seen a huge participation increase over the years. People everywhere decide to become healthier and many take up either of these activities; unfortunately many stop after a short time. Given how we all get such pleasure from being on the road, it may be hard to understand why someone would stop.
One reason is seen by how many people begin to work out:
They go out on Day 1 and run as hard as they can then are forced to stop when breathing and exertion become difficult. Hearing “no pain, no gain” the next day, on with the shoes and again run as hard as they can – with the same results. After a few days, the shoes are in the corner and Netflix is back on.
How does this affect us:
The root cause is the same…training too hard and not developing an aerobic base. Our aerobic base is the level of activity where the heart rate is maintained at a level where the body is burning mostly fat as a fuel source. At this level the heart is stressed enough to trigger the body to increase the heart’s strength (why some see a lowering of their resting heart rate during base training), capillaries are formed to move fuel to the legs and waste products away from the legs, mitochondria “the power generators of the cell” are developed and our slow twitch muscles get stronger. The result is it takes less effort on the body’s part to move forward at a given pace. Later, after an adequate base is developed the inclusion of mid-intensity and high-intensity workouts add to our mind’s fatigue resistance, cause even greater mitochondria development, and develops our fast twitch muscles.
As I just wrote the result of this base training is it takes less effort to go a certain pace; but what if we keep the effort level the same? Why we would be running/walking at a faster pace to maintain the effort level! This is seen down the line from easy pace to race pace!
The take away?
Speed, hills, interval workouts have a place in your training. But your long runs and in fact a majority of your training miles should be at you base pace.
Take it from the guy who began running at a 1 min run/ 3 min walk, then built a base and now is running miles in the 12 minute pace range.
For more information see:
Maffetone, Phillip “Endurance Training and Racing”
Fitzgerald, Matt , “80/20 Running”
Nokes, Timothy “The Lore of Running”