So you've been asking yourself, should I be running fast or should it be running slow? What should I be doing? Well, I'm Jesse Funk, and on today's episode of Runner’s High I'm going to answer it for you once and for all, should you be running fast and short or long and slow?
If you haven't spent any time here with me here on the channel, as always hit that subscribe button so you can stick around and see more videos about running. And probably more importantly, instead of hearing my opinions, you can hear me interview other people on the Smart Athlete Podcast where I interview experts in all kinds of fields, but you'll learn a lot about sports, running, all of these other different things, life, philosophy.
It's a great show, I interview some very interesting people, so hit that subscribe button. And on that note, recently I was speaking with longtime endurance coach Simon Ward, he's been coaching since 95, which is basically almost as long as I've been alive, I was six when he started coaching and here I am trying to help you.
Recently when I was interviewing Simon I asked him a very pointed question like the one you're kind of asking me right now, should I be running fast or should I be running slow? And Simon gave the quintessential coach's answer; it depends. It depends, it always depends, right? It depends on your situation. Well, I cannot cover every single situation in this video, but I'm going to try to give some general guidelines so you can figure out, should I be running in slow or should it be running fast and short?
Rest assured you're not the only person asking me this question. I get this question from time to time in comments. If you have any questions, leave them down in the comments below. But it is something that comes up very often, and most often from beginner. So, if that is you, then my answer, my kind of catch all answer is probably you need to run slow and long. I don't know how many times I have to say that on the channel, and that isn't to be berating, but it's something that we want to get to the fast part, right? That's the fun part. I agree. That's often the fun part, is going fast.
But if you want to run faster, you want to reduce injuries, you want to run for a longer time. And I don't mean be a slower runner, I mean run for a longer period of your life, then you need to run slow for longer. The thing is when you're starting out, when you're a beginner, you need to run slow for longer because you need to build your aerobic capacity, which is how effective your lungs are delivering oxygen to your muscles. That is a whole system that takes time to be built up, and it can't be rushed.
There's certain amount of growth that our body can handle in a given period of time. Other than that, it just can't. If you push it harder, then we go into a cycle of over-training and stress and then injury, and now you're back to square one because you had to take time off.
So, slow, consistent approach to running is what is going to help you be better over time. Now, some of us, maybe you will have more skill or talent in running than other people, and you'll go faster sooner, but the basic principle of running slow for longer if you're a beginner is going to apply for the vast, vast majority of people. In very few cases is it ever going to be where you need to run fast sooner.
My general guideline here is you should be running about 25 miles, give or take a couple miles before you start thinking about adding in speed. That's 25 miles a week, split over five or six days, whatever you want to do. At that point, you can start thinking about adding in some other things, look at the channel, see my videos on Fartleks, Fartlek is a great kind of speed workout to do between long runs and track work to kind of get you up to speed. But again, if you're a beginner, long and slow is probably the way to go.
Now, if you have done that, you passed that already and you have built your base, as we say in running, then maybe it's time to add that speed, like that Fartlek I just mentioned, that's a good intermediary from going long and slow to running on the track and doing intervals. It basically means you're going to do your same, say five mile run or whatever it is, but in the middle, you're going to run fast for 30 seconds, fast for a minute and then run back to your regular slow speed for a minute, two minutes, whatever it is.
It's Swedish for speed play, I'm pretty sure it’s Swedish, it translates to speed play. And that's the idea, these kind of on and off intervals where you're just messing around with your speed, that's what a Fartlek is, and it's a great way to introduce the speed.
Now, the other caveat, and the reason you do short and fast early, this probably doesn't apply to you because most people that are doing this aren't going to be listening to me, is if you are a short sprinting kind of athlete, and this is mile and below. So, 400 to 1600. Sprinters, you're in another world, I can't help you. But if you're in that window, then obviously you need to spend time on short and fast intervals. If you're running anything over the 1600, meaning if you're doing road races, 5Ks and up, then slow is the way to go until you've built your base.
So, that's kind of my definitive answer. The catch all in generally is going to be short and slow is the way to go. But once you build your base, then you can add in— Long and low is the way to go, corrected myself there, then you can go short and fast. So, do that first. Let me know where you are, I can help you out specifically if you leave me a comment down below, and then your situation may be able to help others. As always, I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.