Slow and steady vs. quick and short

I almost titled this post “slow and steady vs. hot and dirty” but thought that might send the wrong message (though it might’ve gotten me more page views, LOL!).

My point here is this – how do you condition your body to be able to run a quick/short race versus a fast/long race? Is that even possible? Or do you have to choose your battles? I’m thinking you have to choose your battles and here’s why.

I ran a 5k with Scott this morning in preparation for a last minute decision to run a 5k in our hometown on Thursday afternoon, mostly just for fun since a few friends are running it too, but partly to get back into “race” mentality. All part of the master get-ready-for-this-half-marathon-its-coming-whether-I-like-it-or-not-plan. So anyway, I was totally hoping/anticipating that I’d knock that 5k outta the park, running it fast and without any problems whatsoever. I mean really – 3.1 miles is nothing compared to the longer distances I’ve run lately, right?

Well – I was partially right. I did run the 5k with ease, picking up the pace as best as I could throughout, but my body clearly wanted to go back to the slower, steadier pace partway through as I clocked in at my usual 30 mins or 10 min/mile pace. Which isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong. I just had this anticipation that I’d come in faster – maybe 28 mins or so (which is still slow by any stretch!). But the more I mulled it over, the more I realized that my body is just conditioning itself to run longer and a little bit slower to ensure I can go the distance. Definitely not a bad thing – in fact, it means my training is working.

That’s not to say I still hope to run this 5k on Thursday at a quicker pace than today. I’m glad I did the test run though – now I know exactly what I want/need to do on Thursday to come in under 30 mins. I need to start strong and stay strong. 3.1 miles be damned – I got this. 😉 <—pep talk ‘o the day, ha.

Going back to my original question – I do believe that you need to choose your battles when it comes to conditioning your body, running-wise. Choose a goal, first and foremost.  If you want to run your best 5k ever – stick to sprinting drills and shorter training runs. If you want to run a longer race, say a half-marathon or a 10k – stick to longer distances at a steadier pace, slowly upping the mileage week-by-week.  At least, that’s what seems to be working for me so I’m sticking to it.

Look at me – talking like a real “runner” or something. How did that happen?!?

10 thoughts on “Slow and steady vs. quick and short

  1. I think you can train both ways to be honest. Intervals and things like hill repeats help with speed. You have to practice both – I have a harder time going slower and longer. I don’t think you necessarily have to pick one or the other. If you train short and fast, you may also help your long distance speed as well. Just a thought from a non-runner!

    • True – I don’t think it has to be one OR the other, I just think if you’re working towards a particular running goal, focus is usually a better bet. But then, I’m not a runner either, so I could be wrong too 😉

  2. Great…now you got me overthinking about Thursday’s race 😉 Aren’t you the one that said it doesn’t matter what time you clock in at?! Take your own advice sis!

    • It doesn’t matter – that wasn’t my point, sis! I knew you’d take it that way (boy, do I know you or what??). It just got me thinking about how I’ve been training towards the longer race this fall and how much of an impact its had for me on shorter race times. Trust me, I’m not gonna sweat it on Thursday if I come in at 30 mins again. I was just trying to make a point about conditioning, that’s all. 😉

  3. You are definitely a real runner, girl!!! It’s easy to psyche (how the heck do you spell that?) ourselves out of things when we’re running….I truly think (like so many physical things) a lot of it IS mental. But you can beat that battle – just keep reminding yourself of what your body is capable of! And not that time matters, but I know the adrenaline during your race on Thursday will motivate you to run faster and harder. You got this!

  4. Pingback: Fiesta 5k – what I learned « EatDrinkBreatheSweat

  5. Ok, this is an old post and your 5k race is already over. But here are my two cents: If you hate quick + short runs as much as me (I could run forever as long as I run in my own pace – which is not very fast…) try to increase your endurance and power with running up hills whenever you can. You can even do that on most treadmills. You don’t have to climb mountains but if you include a few acclivities in your run it will strengthen the muscles in your thighs which will make you faster on flat tracks. Have fun and keep on running!
    PS: Yes, you are a runner! Once you start running you become a runner! e basta!

    • You’re right, Julia – and I know it. I’ve been avoiding the fact that I need to add some hill repeats/sprinting to my regime because I HATE It so, but you’re right. I need to get ‘er done. I will do so this weekend in Maine, that’s a promise. 🙂

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