Running slowly: The (many) advantages of ‘slow running’

Running slowly: The (many) advantages of ‘slow running’

The Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge is called to be Olympic marathon champion again. In his release he accumulates several records. In 2022, at the age of 38, he completed the Berlin marathon and set the fastest time in the history of this 42-kilometer test with 2 hours, one minute and 9 seconds (although last year it was snatched away by the ill-fated Kelvin Kiptum in Chicago ). To achieve these marks, however, he does not train with sprints, but with what is now called ‘slow running’, which is something like going at a party pace.

“Running slowly is the big fight that coaches have with athletes,” explains Iván Rodríguez, professor of Sports Sciences and Physiotherapy at the European University of Madrid. And the less experience you have, the fiercer the battle. “It is necessary to control the intensities to avoid overtraining and injuries,” continues the expert.

If you are starting to run or want to prepare for a race, engrave these two maxims on your mind: you don’t have to run every day, nor do you have to go hard every day you run. Even if you want to achieve a certain mark, like Kipchoge, you will have to run slowly for many kilometers. The reason? You have to make a base. “It is a fundamental aspect of training,” explains Dan Gordon, professor of Sports Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University. «If you go full speed, you won’t be able to run more and more kilometers. You can only increase the distance at moderate and low rates,” adds Rodríguez. With this, resistance is gained and the muscles become accustomed to withstanding the efforts.

And if you are worried about improving your figure, don’t worry, you will also burn fat. Studies show that running at easy intensities has great benefits for your metabolism and heart. Although the level of stress for our body is not very high, “the amount of oxygenated blood that comes out with each heartbeat will reach the maximum possible volume or almost,” Gordon specifies in an article published in ‘The Conversation’. And by putting that muscle at full pulse we will not be able to multiply it.

But, in addition, running at low paces “makes the body use stored fat as a source of energy” instead of drawing on the reserves of the carbohydrates we eat. That is, it makes our body work “more efficiently,” Gordon continues. The reason? “Slow runners use less energy, are less fatigued, and are able to run fast on test day,” he says.

For all these reasons, this type of training is highly recommended. Although it does not imply that high intensities are left aside. They are also necessary, as Rodríguez says. One method to combine them is called 80-20 training, which means running slowly 80% of the time and fast or hard 20%.

With this on the table, we now have to know when we are at one time or another. If we are not very clear about the training zones, which is a somewhat confusing concept, it is best to trust what Rodríguez recommends: “If you can carry on a conversation without a problem when you run, you are at low intensity. If your voice breaks or you need to catch your breath, you are overdoing it. And if you can’t talk… well, you’re in high intensity. In the latter case, furthermore, we will not be able to hold out for long.

Another issue to keep in mind when we are training and if we want or have the goal of a brand is that “improvement is not linear.” That is, not every day we are going to do better than the previous one. And it’s normal. “There will be days and seasons in which you will be better and others worse,” Rodríguez emphasizes. Don’t get discouraged, it’s part of the process.

– Do we have to forget about brands?

– No, they can be a help, motivate us and make us feel more complicit in the exercise.

But like Kiptun, it’s about making them in the races. The training is something else. One last piece of advice that also tends to be difficult for beginners: “Without a good rest and without adequate nutrition they won’t come either,” concludes the teacher.


  • Running slowly has many physical advantages, but also mental ones. When you practice it, don’t forget to put these tips into practice to also oxygenate your spirit.

  • Connect with the environment. When you run, she tries to do it outside and enjoy the landscape, without rushing. Look at what’s happening around you.

  • Listen to your body. Run at a pleasant pace, without forcing yourself, and observe the signals that your body sends you.

  • Breathe consciously. Pay attention to how you inhale and exhale. Try to keep it calm and deep.

  • Enjoy the process. Don’t think about the final goal, but about what you do at each moment. Maintain full attention to each step and the sensations it produces in you.

  • Don’t forget the others. You are a social being. Also take advantage of this moment to interact with more people. Foster community and connection. If you can, run with someone and talk.

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