Running slow is better in trail running because it will only apply slight stress on the important physiological systems that are needed to run at high levels.
It is just like active recovery where blood flow is gently facilitated to the muscles that need help.
In other words, running slow will help your worn out muscles to start healing.
Everybody knows that running fast can cause serious trauma to the affected physiological systems of the body.
Running at fast speeds every time will only sustain the trauma and can ultimately lead to breakdown and burnout.
If you want to sustain your training, you need to practice slower trail running. This will give your muscles and joints their needed time to heal.
It will also enable you to continue running with much more zest and energy.
But What Is Slow Running Really?
According to Women’s Running Magazine, It depends on each person. Some say that if you can carry a conversation with your friend while running, then you are slow running. The RCCA coaches have a way of defining what slow running is.
They say that if you can run a 5K in 30 minutes at a pace of about 9:40, your easy long and slow run should only be 12 minutes per mile.
But if you can run one half of a marathon below two hours, which is approximately 9 minutes per mile, your slow run should be 10:22.
By tracking your heart rate when you run, you will find that a gentle slow pace will cause your heart rate to pulse around 110 to 140 beats per minute.
These figures are related to your breathing and effort. They can tell you why and how you are able to talk while running.
However, if you think you are running slower compared to other runners even if you think you are giving all you can and breathing hard, it may be that you are not really slow running all the time.
How Slow Should You Run?
By using a slow pace when running a medium-distance run, you will be building your strength without putting too much stress on your mind and body.
You could take 45 to 90 minutes to complete your run. But this pace will enhance the ability of your body to use and transmit oxygen.
Why do You Need To Slow Down?
There are good reasons why you should do slower trail running. This type of running will enhance and sustain your health.
If you are always running fast and hard, you are actually fighting against your own body rather than just going with the flow.
According to Trail Runner Magazine, Cortisol the stress hormone is produced in your body by adding continuous stress especially if you are running above your aerobic limit.
We all know that running hard and fast carry with it the risks of feet and joint injuries because of the demand for increased output.
But that type of running every day doesn’t allow your body to fully recover. At the very least, you should have easy days in between.
If your body entertains anaerobic stimulus because of constantly running fast, it will slow down your body’s aerobic development because the activity of the aerobic enzymes is adversely affected.
Mitochondria biogenesis, an essential process in energy production through intra-cellular pathway by way of ATP, has a complex way of responding to training loads.
These training loads are typically optimized by performing easy and slow runs so that volume will be increased without the risk of injury.
Take The Cue From The Professionals
According to Running Competitor, you need to follow what professional runners do. They are not always running fast and hard.
There are times that they are also running slow. This fact is revealed by some scientific studies about intensity training distribution of top rated runners.
The subjects of these studies were elite men and women runners who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in 2004.
According to these studies, the female runners performed over two-thirds of their training by slow running.
The male runners, on the other hand, did nearly three-fourths of their running and training slower than their usual paces in marathons.
These studies revealed why these elite and fast runners are doing it slower than their running speeds.
They know that if they run continuously at high intensities, they will easily burn out. You need to consider that these elite runners are running a lot.
They saw the need to vary their paces while they are training to sustain their energy and stamina.
So, if you want to succeed in running, run slow at times and not fast all the time. The more you run, the faster you will race.
But always keep in mind that a slow pace will enable you to run more miles without experiencing burn out.
How You Can Run Slow On Trail Running
Here are some useful tips that you can adapt to your trail running.
1. Slow your pace and use quick and short strides
Considering your usual exertion level on typical flat roads, try to run at least 20 percent slower when you are negotiating trails.
While running on trails, you will face steep hills, many obstacles on the path and increased side-to-side movements. Forget about the pace and do what you think is best.
Cut your strides. Nearly all of the time, this method will cause your weight to be carried over your feet enabling you to quickly react and maintain your balance.
Trail running will stabilize your running ability better than running on roads.
2. Scan the ground ahead of you
Scanning the ground five to ten feet ahead of you will keep your safe. You will be able to anticipate the obstacles ahead and avoid them. Only shift attention on your feet to do whatever is necessary.
3. On steep hills, walk and don’t run
Running on steep hills is very dangerous. Experienced trail runners know that it is better to walk up a steep hill than to run over them.
Walking will conserve your energy. You can make up for the time on your way down.
Here is a video of trail running on steep hills. It discusses some helpful tips that you can use.