What are the benefits of running very slowly?
A very slow, effortless run with an intensity of around 65% is propagated time and again. Is this beneficial?
The literature considers the aforementioned 65% to be the lowest threshold for «slow running». These slow runs (often referred to as GA1 runs), however, are not only restricted to a «sacred» intensity but have a certain bandwidth. During long runs, the pulse meanwhile lies between 65% and 80% of the maximum heart rate, which means you can also run a little faster to achieve the same result if you think 65% is too slow.
What’s more: if you exercise within the above-mentioned bandwidth, these «slow» runs are very effective and indispensable when it comes to your long-term performance development. The body makes more blood to transport oxygen more efficiently and the number of energy power plants in the muscle cells increases, so they become even more effective. New capillaries (small blood vessels) ensure that the blood and thus also more oxygen can get everywhere in the muscles.
The body thus prepares for long sustained loads and learns to work economically. Through these adaptations alone, the body can regenerate faster and is therefore able to process the training loads faster (and needs less time until it is ready for training again). This basic tempo also trains the resistance of the musculoskeletal system. The cartilaginous surfaces, tendons, and ligaments get used to the moderate load and become stronger and more resistant.
And last but not least, long runs done in doses are also a kind of "safety measure" for ensuring you don't overdo it too often and get enough recovery time between the tough units.
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