McMillan Running gives tips for getting more out of those runs by slowing down!
It is tempting to try and hit fast times in workouts but it is crucial that you stick to the paces your coach gives you. Racing your workouts will only lead to stale race times, mental fatigue and risk of injury. -Annika Braun
Running your workouts too fast gives your body the false impression that you raced that day. Think about your workouts in terms of energy systems being worked. Running race pace as opposed to tempo run pace works an entirely different energy system than planned on. This can result in much more fatigue, muscular breakdown and mental fatigue than necessary to achieve the goal of the workout. Running faster than workout paces may lead to fast race times initially but over time you will begin to feel run down and tired.
As a young college runner I thought I needed to run hard every day to prove myself. I ran hard on easy days and raced my hard days. I was in amazing shape and beating everyone early in the season, everything was great!
By October I was tired, worn down and getting injured. On top of that I just felt mentally stale and pushing myself in hard efforts began to feel like a job. Slowly I slipped away from the top group until one day I couldn’t even run anymore. I needed a physical and mental break.
It took me a few years to figure out that I don’t need to push myself like that in order to be a good runner. In fact, being a good runner meant training very smart and learning to hold back in workouts and hit the paces the coach prescribed instead of trying to beat the paces every time. Finally I started to see race times drop and injuries dissipate.
Listen to your body and remember that every day serves a purpose!
Annika Braun is a McMillan Running coach, Lydiard Certified, and has a degree in Exercise Science.