Fast or Slow? It would be better if it was Hard or Easy

The other night I posted that I was going to run an 8.7M route I’d done on Friday, but run it a bit differently, and compare the differences.

I’ve talked a bit about ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ running recently and why I don’t think either matters…

…but perhaps a better way to look at as ‘fast‘ or ‘slow‘ … is instead looked at as … ‘hard‘ or ‘easy‘.

People want to ‘run fast’, and tend to think that ‘running slow’ isn’t great, but for the majority of your runs, would you prefer to ‘run hard‘ or ‘run easy‘?

‘What time did you do?’
‘XXX time’
‘Oh, that’s a bit SLOW for you isn’t it?’
‘Maybe it is, but my goal wasn’t speed, it was making my long run easy’.

Hard or easy?

I know which one I prefer: easy.

Who cares what others think? It’s not their run and it’s not their life.

I prefer everything in my life to be easy, rather than hard. I like to get good at things, so they become easy, not hard. Sure it’s great when you get a PB, or you run hard and get a buzz off it, or place in a race – but it’s not the be all and end all.

I’d much prefer to go on a ‘long slow run’ with a friend and get a chat and a good run in, than run fast / hard. I couldn’t care less if it was slow / easy, enjoying running is what it’s all about. Not fast or slow.

But you shouldn’t expect to run fast all the time. It should be every now and again when you’ve trained for it. Other runs should be easy, and enjoyable, not hard / fast and a struggle.

And if you want to get fast, you don’t need to do it every run or every week. You can train slow and train smart with tailored speed sessions to improve your speed (if you want to), and losing weight is one of the biggest impact on being able to run fast(er) too.


Anyway, back to my runs. The same route: 8.7 miles:
4 miles into the sunrise / up to Clarkston, 4 miles back home, down towards the Clyde.

1. Friday run: 140HR ‘easy’

I felt great. I was taking in everything, sights and sounds, everything was lovely. I was taking it very easy with an avg HR of about 140. I felt a bit like I was floating at points.

I averaged comfortable 9:04 min miles and felt great after it. It really set me up for my day and made me feel good.

The sun was amazing, I saw people and cars, I was able to focus and cross roads safely. I felt amazing like I was floating on air.

I saw the sunrise and the beautiful colours within it. I saw a rainbow and smiled. No DOMS, I felt great at work all day and worked well too.

Easy. Lovely. Happy. Aerobic. ‘Slow'(?)


2. Wednesday run: 160HR ‘hard’

Then on Wednesday I ran the same route at the same time of the day, but planned to push my HR to 160 and keep it there (hopefully).

The very though of pushing myself at that time in the morning was enough to put me off running altogether. But I did it. Out the door, tunes and gadgets on. Cape ON!

I had to think of this quote from a friend and amazing runner Cris Walsh, to push myself:

If you want to run the best marathon of your life, you need to push hard of course it’s horrible, who said it was easy?! Push through that feeling for 5 minutes and the body will adjust’

Cris Walsh, Bellahoiston Harrier and
2:37 Marathoner

It’s true, your body (and mind) does adjust, but it’s still hard!!

The hard run was totally different to my easy run on the same route. Up hills seemed steeper, downhills, seemed flatter, the wind seemed windier. Sure it was ‘fast’, but it was HARD too.

Miles 1 and 2, I had a burning feeling in my throat and chest, mile 4 I was feeling lactic acid build up in my calves, mile 5 I had a pain / stitch in my neck, mile 6 I was getting tired but was finally getting into it, getting used to it. And I knew it was downhill to the end.

If I felt like I was floating the other (easy) day, today I felt like I was fighting (hard) against something to keep going. Most of my mile splits were under 8 minute miles, but my heart rate was erratic. It was hard to stabilise it at 160 (harder than keeping it at 140).

Another clear difference was what I was seeing. The other day I saw everything in my field if vision, lovely sunrise, pedestrians, other runners, cars, trees, traffic, clouds, rainbows. Whereas on my hard / fast run, all I could seem to see / focus on was the pavement directly in front of me.

I only saw the sunrise because I forced myself to look at it, but even then I didn’t take it in and it didn’t seems as spectacular as the other day.

My eyesight was blurry, I found it hard to concentrate to cross roads. My heart was working anaerobically (without oxygen), and my body and mind was focussing hard on trying to keep everything going. It was hard.

I finished 11 minutes faster than the other day, or 1:15 min miles faster. Garmin Training Effect FIVE!! 🙂 But it was hard and horrible. Not only that, I was slightly gubbed after it, for most of the day, and I’ll no doubt need a rest after if.

My focus on tasks was off, I was having hot flushes throughout the day, I was a little sore. And my day didn’t go to plan to well at work.

Hard. Horrible. Sore. Anaerobic. ‘Fast'(?)


Here’s the comparison in numbers:

140 HR run 160 HR run
Time 01:18:55 01:08:02
Pace 09:40 07:49
Avg HR 141 162
Max HR 155 173
Garmin Training Effect 3.2 5.0
After buzz fine high
DOMS fine a little


Now then…

Easy. Lovely. Happy. Aerobic. ‘Slow'(?)


Hard. Horrible. Sore. Anaerobic. ‘Fast'(?)

I know which one I prefer. 😉

Now, are you going to make it hard or easy for yourself? 🙂

Run and enjoy it and forget about speed / pace / fast / slow. Think hard or easy and remember to have fun

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