Yes, You Will Get Slower…


Illustration: Christoph Hitz

It’s inevitable.

Those PRs will stop coming.

When?

That depends.

  • How long have you been running?  They said you only improve during the first 10 years of running.
  • How old are you now?
  • How hard do you train?  Do you even train?
  • Are you a natural athlete? Does running come easy to you?
  • Do you race often or just run for fun?
  • What kind of races do you run? Short ones or endurance races?
  • Have you had many chronic injuries?
  • Have you had a serious injury?
  • Do you participate in other fitness activities besides running?
  • How many miles do you run each week?
  • How many rest days do you take each week?

In other words, there’s really no way to predict when or how fast or even how much you will SLOW down.

But unfortunately, it will happen.

So how do you know it is happening?

  • You struggle to keep an even pace.
  • Your race finish times are slower.
  • You positive split your races.
  • You walk more often in a race.
  • It’s just feels harder.
  • It takes longer to warm up.
  • It’s takes longer to recover.
  • You need more rest days.
  • You shorten your runs.
  • You choose flat races or running routes.

Of course, even if you are noticing some of the things above, you should still RUN!

But what are some things that you can try when you do start SLOWING down.

  • TRY TO STOP SAYING YOU ARE SLOW or APOLOGIZING FOR BEING SLOW.

We all know that pace is relative. You may feel slow but you are not the slowest runner out there. In addition to making you think too much about your own pace, it may make others (who ARE slower) uncomfortable.

  • TRY A  LONGER DISTANCE.

5ks naturally make you focus on speed. Pick an endurance event like a half marathon or marathon or even a 50k where you will be just glad to finish.

This hilly 15k had me just looking forward to the ice cream and the view after the finish line.

  • TRY A SHORTER DISTANCE.

If you run half marathons and a decent pace is getting harder to maintain in the latter miles, try training for a 5k or 10k.  Maintaining a faster pace may be less intimidating in a shorter race.

after training for 4 half marathons in 4 months, this 5k was a welcome relief.

 

 

  • TRY INTERVALS.

Many runners find that adding timed walk breaks help them get faster finish times.

My friend Elizabeth in NYC belongs to a Galloway group and loves her intervals.

  • TRY RUNNING BY HEART RATE.

Monitoring your heart rate as you run can also in the long run help you get faster.

My friend Deirdre is getting faster with heart rate training.

  • TRY TRAIL RUNNING.

You will not run faster on trails. You will most likely focus on not falling and on your surroundings. (Trails tend to be more scenic than the road.)  As a result, your slower pace will bother you less.

  • TRY ADDING OTHER TYPES OF FITNESS EVENTS.

What about adding biking or swimming or obstacles to your running? As with trails, your running pace will become less important.

not me but my friend AJH

  • TRY HAVING A GOAL THAT IS NOT RELATED TO YOUR FINISH TIME.

Forget about trying to finish under a certain time. Maybe your goal can be a course PR or consistent pace or negative splits or running up the hills or walking less often. Just make sure that you choose a realistic goal.

finishing a half marathon STRONG!

  • TRY MENTORING A BEGINNER RUNNER.

Besides, being very rewarding, you will not be able to worry about your own pace. You will be trying to help another runner finish their first race.

  • TRY TO FIND YOUR TRIBE.

If the runners that you normally run with are not slowing down and they make you feel slow when you run with them, then you need to seek out another group of runners.  Check out the local running clubs or training groups.  Try to find another runner or runners that you feel more comfortable running with.

always someone to share the miles with in this wonderful group of ladies – my Sole Sisters.

  • TRY TAKING A BREAK FROM RACING AND RUN JUST FOR FUN.

If racing is making you stress out about your slower pace, stop signing up for races.  Run for fun and maybe after a while, you’ll miss it and want to race again.  But remember, you are still runner even if you never race.

So you may be wondering where this topic fits into my running life….

I’m in that limbo stage.  I am probably past my PR days but haven’t come to terms with it yet. In other words, PRs are harder to come by but I haven’t completely given up hope yet.

I’ve stopped having finish time goals.  They are now to finish uninjured.  Though, I’d love to run ONE 5k and finish under 27 minutes. (An old runner can dream).

I am very content that my finish times at my age often earn me age group awards and that I qualified for both the NYC Half and NYC Marathon.

I do all my runs for fun, without a watch and on mostly flat surfaces.  I have started participating in trail runs and humbly enjoy running with the BOTPers.

I do plan to keep on running as long as I am able…even at a turtle’s pace.

Happy Running!  Anyone else approaching or have approached that inevitable slow down period in their running?  If so, any other recommendations? Please share.

5 thoughts on “Yes, You Will Get Slower…

  1. You will never be a turtle, Darlene! Since you started running relatively later in life, you’ve still got ‘fresh legs’ and I predict some speedy miles left in them! We all know I[‘m frustrated with my dramatic slow down…I’m happy that I can still run relatively fast at the shorter distances, tho. We’ll see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ran for fun for a year and toward the end (before my herniated disc took me out) I was actually getting a little bit faster, which for me is still slow for you, LOL – but I also was running better. You are correct with all of your suggestions – there comes a time when you need to change things up in order to keep running.

    Liked by 1 person

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