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For many runners, the thought of slowing down their pace is enough to make them break into a cold sweat. After all, isn’t the whole point of running to go as fast as you can? As it turns out, runners of all levels can benefit from incorporating slow jogging into their training routine.
Intentionally running at a slower pace may not be as glamorous as hitting a new personal record. Still, it has many benefits essential for any runner looking to improve their performance.
What is Slow Jogging?
Slow jogging is a form of running that emphasizes quality over quantity. Rather than trying to cover as much ground as possible, slow joggers focus on maintaining a consistent pace and ensuring their form is correct. This method of running is also known as the “niko niko” pace, which refers to the Japanese concept of running with a smile on your face.
The Dangers of Running Too Fast, Too Often
While it may seem counterintuitive, running too fast too often puts you at a greater risk for injury and decreases your overall aerobic fitness. When you run at speeds that are too fast for your current fitness level, your muscles have to work harder to keep up, which puts them under greater strain. This increased strain can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and Achilles tendonitis.
In addition, running too fast too often can lead to overtraining syndrome, a condition characterized by fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and decreased performance.
On the other hand, running at a slower pace allows your body to become more efficient at using fat as fuel, which means you’ll be able to run for longer periods of time without tiring.
How to Incorporate Slow Jogging Into Your Training Routine
If you’re new to running or coming back from an injury or hiatus, start by following the 60-75% rule. This rule states that 60-75% of your runs should be done at a conversational pace—in other words, at a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation without being out of breath.
As you build up your mileage and increase your overall weekly volume, you can increase the proportion of slow jogging miles in your training program.
In addition to following the 60-75% rule, it’s important to listen to your body’s cues for an appropriate pace. Suppose you find yourself huffing and puffing to keep up with conversations with fellow runners or struggling to complete regular daily activities such as talking on the phone or climbing stairs without being winded. In that case, you need to back off the gas pedal a bit and focus on running at an easier effort level.
For experienced runners looking for ways to mix up their training routine and add some variety, tempo runs and fartlek workouts are great options. Tempo runs involve sustained periods of running at slightly faster than the race pace (usually 15-20 minutes), followed by an easy cool-down period.
Fartlek workouts are more unstructured and involve alternating between periods of fast running (anywhere from 1 minute to 1 mile) followed by easy jogging or walking to recover before starting the next hard effort.
Both tempo runs, and fartlek workouts provide an opportunity to mix up slower and faster paces while still getting in some quality aerobic miles.
Slow jogging may not be as exciting as hitting personal records or PRs, but it’s an important part of any runner’s training program. Incorporating slow jogging into your routine has been shown to improve fat-burning efficiency, increase calorie burn, and improve muscle endurance—all qualities that will help you run stronger and faster when it really counts.
When starting slow jogging or adding it back into your program after time off from running, follow the 60-75% rule and listen to your body’s cues for an appropriate pace. As you become more comfortable with slow jogging miles, consider mixing things up with tempo runs or fartlek workouts. Remember: slow and steady really do win the race!
How many days a week should I run?
Most runners will benefit from 3-5 days of running per week. Experienced runners may be able to handle up to 6 days of running, but this is generally not recommended for beginners or those coming back from injury.
How long should my runs be?
The duration of your runs will depend on your goals and current fitness level. If you’re starting out, begin with shorter runs (20-30 minutes) and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable with the distance. If you’re training for a specific race, follow a training plan that slowly builds up your mileage so that you peak at the right time