To sum it up, many advise novice runners to ease off the gas pedal because most beginners haven’t quite mastered the art of running at an easy pace. These easy runs form the foundation of training, offering a low-fatigue option that allows for more mileage accumulation each week compared to constantly pushing the pace.

If your only speed is an all-out sprint, you’ll struggle to find your rhythm at an easy pace. You’ll never quite grasp the art of jogging, leaving every run with you gasping for air and increasing the risk of experiencing issues like shin splints and an overall dread of your next outing.

While these points hold truth, they don’t provide the complete picture. It’s crucial to find your slower paces and aim for most runs to feel relatively easy instead of treating each one as a race. However, let’s delve into why faster running also holds its significance.

Analyzing Your Stride

Take a moment to observe your movement: Are your feet shuffling slowly rather than bounding with energy? While shuffling isn’t detrimental—many ultramarathoners swear by it—it shouldn’t constitute your sole running style.

Running is a skill that requires practice, not just a means of providing aerobic stimulus. As you become faster and fitter, you can satisfy both aspects simultaneously. But until then, integrating some faster running, even in small increments, is advisable.

Trying Out Strides

Consider incorporating strides into your routine. Strides involve short intervals where you aim to move your feet swiftly before slowing down and stopping before exhaustion sets in. Whether done at the end or in the middle of a run to break the monotony, strides offer a way to practice running fast without excessive fatigue.

Interval Training for Improved Fitness

While steady, slow-paced runs are excellent for enhancing aerobic fitness, they aren’t the sole solution. Numerous studies and real-world experiences support the efficacy of interval training in boosting speed for beginner and intermediate runners. Intervals entail alternating between intense exertion, such as fast running, and easy activities like walking or complete rest.

Choosing the Right Intervals

Some coaches suggest that beginners gain some experience before incorporating structured intervals. However, others believe intervals can be added at any point, provided they start with manageable doses. Here are some interval schemes beneficial for novice and intermediate runners:

  • 30-20-10: Incorporate intervals of 30-second walks, followed by 20 seconds of medium-paced running, and 10 seconds of fast running. Complete five rounds, rest for two minutes, and repeat as desired.
  • 30/30s: Keep it simple with 30 seconds of fast running followed by 30 seconds of rest. Take a few minutes’ break after several rounds.
  • Short “VO2max” intervals: Improve your VO2max with one-minute intervals of fast running followed by one minute of rest. Start with ten intervals and adjust as needed.

Remember not to go all-out during the work segments but maintain a controlled pace, knowing that short rest periods precede subsequent efforts.

Embracing the Joy of Running

Running slow can sometimes feel tedious and uninspiring. Amidst the focus on zone 2 training and building aerobic base, it’s essential to remember that running fast can also be enjoyable.

You’re permitted to have fun with your runs. You don’t need to “earn” the right to run fast based on your cardio fitness level. Experiment with fartlek runs, allowing yourself to break free from set rules and enjoy the spontaneity of your journey.

Bringing It All Together

You needn’t incorporate all these faster workouts, nor should you discard slower runs. To enhance your fitness, aim for at least half of your training to be at an easy enough effort level to allow for conversation without breathlessness. However, including some faster running variations—be it a few strides post an easy run or a dedicated interval session—is beneficial.

Furthermore, alternating between walking and running during any run is acceptable, provided you focus on maintaining a steady pace. Over time, these efforts will blend seamlessly into a unified, easier pace, enriching your overall running experience.