People always say that you should regularly integrate very slow runs into your running training. Does it have a training effect if you don’t have to exert yourself?
Yes, even very slow runs, in technical terms very relaxed endurance runs, are beneficial, although “very slow” and “very relaxed” are relative. The slowest pace during these very easy endurance runs is in the range of 60-70 percent of the individual anaerobic threshold pace and is thus only slightly slower than the pace during “easy endurance running”.
The threshold pace is roughly equivalent to the heart rate that can be sustained consistently for about 40 minutes of continuous exercise. The effects of very easy endurance running are the same as those of easy endurance running. However, with relaxed endurance running you run the risk of running too fast and not taking full advantage of the effects, which is why you should deliberately run very relaxed from time to time. If you do a very slow run, you can be sure that you train the following effects optimally:
- Better blood circulation (capillarization) of the muscles
- Economization of cardiovascular work
- Optimization of fat metabolism.
The very slow run also enables the less trained runner to complete long running sessions of 90 minutes and more without running into a hunger pang. Thus, despite moderate performance, your musculoskeletal system and also your psyche can get used to long loads.
Very strong runners can complete additional running kilometers with the very slow run without putting further strain on the heart and lungs. In spite of all the comfort, the following applies: calling the very slow run a regenerative or restorative run should be viewed very critically. After all, running, no matter how slow, always puts a strain on the musculoskeletal system. Thus, running as a regenerative measure is at most something for competitive athletes. All others regenerate better with a break from running or an alternative training that is easy on the musculoskeletal system (cycling, swimming, inline skating, aquajogging, walking).
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