Since my running goals this year have been mostly intrinsic, and not heavily reliant on races, I’ve been able to do things that I normally hadn’t tried before. Once of those things is running with my wife more often.
My wife Lisa is one of the people who was instrumental in getting me in to trail running, but unfortunately, we run at very different speeds. It’s a rare occasion when I run with her, because it involves slowing down a lot more than I’m used to. However, that changed this summer. She’s been working with a coach, and has prescribed workouts 6 day a week. Since I didn’t really have any speed goals this year, I decided to join her for some of her early morning runs.
From a practical standpoint, this means that I’m running closer to a 13:00 min/mile pace, vs. my usual 10:30 min/mile. That’s a significant slowdown, but it’s come with some great benefits. First and foremost, it means that I get to spend more time with my wife, which is always a good thing. Two to three mornings per week we head out together for a run together, and get to spend some time chatting and simply being with one another without any obligation, other than run.
Secondly, I’ve gotten to benefit from some of the speed and hill workout reps that her coach is putting her through. I’m not trying to leech of her plan, but if we’re together, I’ll join in. In particular, some of the speed reps have been incredibly fun. I showed my wife that we have a track nearby, and so we’re able to do 4×20 second reps on a steady surface. I’ve managed to pull myself down to around a 5:20 min/mile pace for my best 20 second reps, and it’s helped me focus on good cadence and form while I sprint.
Finally, I’ve seeing great benefits to myself from a performance and injury prevention standpoint. For those of you who are into low heart rate training, running with my wife has been incredible. I’m able to keep my heart rate solidly in the 130s for 6-7 miles, and finish up feeling great. When I go out for runs on my own, I’m finding my heart rate is in a much better place, usually in the mid 140s. Even when I do a speed run I see improvement. A few weeks ago I did 4 miles and negative split the run, starting at 10:24 min/mile and finishing the final mile at 8:33 min/mile. My HR eventually climbed into the 170s towards the end, but my average over the entire run stayed in the solid 150s. I know that this type of progress is a great benefit to my overall endurance, and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable running longer distances, even at a reduced pace that takes me longer.
Injury prevention has also been a lot better this year. I’ve topped 1000 miles without any significant issues in the first 8.5 months of the year. That’s a first for me, as I’m usually dealing with some manner of ‘niggle’ or repetitive stress injury by this point in the year. However, all the slower runs are really helping me keep my form in better shape, and reduce the strain I’m putting on my body. At the same time, I’m still hitting better mileage goals than I ever have before.
So there you have it. Going slow is working for me, and it’s great for my marriage. I still get my own runs 2-3 days per week where I can work as hard as I want, but they’re getting better and better because of how I’m treating my body the rest of the time.
I still need to work on nutrition, but that’s a whole different can of worms…