Runaholic is an association of runners and fitness enthusiastic with a mixed bag of runners who run slowly and those who run fast. To build a common platform for slow runners “ARSRA” was conceptualised by few brilliant but lazy minded Runaholics. ARSRA is an acronym for ‘Akhil Runaholics Slow Runners Association’.
Slow runners are often ridiculed for their pace and are labeled as ‘snail’ by the fast runners who are tagged as ‘rabbits and panthers etc’. Slow runners are often considered as obstacles and speed breakers by the elite and hence distinguished marathons like TMM, SHHM have running categories with respect to your running pace.
So is running slow a taboo? This write up will be moral boosts for the ARSRA members to help all of US understand the pros and cons of slow running.
What is “Slow?”
Your own version of “slow” can be thought of as conversation-pace running. If you can pretty easily have chat with a buddy, then that’s your slow speed.
So how slow is ‘slow’ is individualised as per the runner’s form. A fast runner will say a pace of 5 min/km is slow for them. So slow running is comfortable and easy paced running which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Running Slow isn’t a character flaw; Qutting is.
Advantages of Slow Running:
- Slow running is the most efficient form of running. It strengthens muscles of torso and legs. Does not put undue strain on muscles and joints.
- Adapts tendons, ligaments, joints and bones to stress of running
- Teaches patience and discipline. Guys it requires patience when we have to run for a whopping 2 hr 30 min and more to complete a half marathon.
- Trains the cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently
- Increases the quantity and size of mitochondria, improving oxygen use and glycogen stores. [Personally I feel this increase in size of my mitochondria is the main reason why I am not losing weight in spite of running]
- You stop at every possible water station to hydrate and load carbs. Your never feel annoyed if a volunteer at the water station does not hand you the water bottle in time and ruins your timing.
- You stop and say thanks to all the volunteers for their efforts. You cheer back at them. Basically you can afford loss of few minutes since you have ample time to finish the race.
- You can take a break and do stretching en-route. I have known a few to take a break for a cup of tea at the road side vendor. In short you have a full ‘paisa wasool’ during the race.
- While most fast runners have pre race thoughts like: what pace should they run, will they achieve perfect negative splits, is their Garmin charged, etc. Whereas slow runners get thoughts like: which playlist to listen while running, will there be enough water stations, how many energy gels to carry, should we carry money to hire a cab if DNF and likewise.
- Your running app always shows perfect positive splits. And we have a huge margin to improve our timings. We can admire the nature en-route and click selfies.
- Running at a slower pace means that your body tends to rely more on using stored fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates stored as glycogen. As well as being good for weight loss, this allows you to conserve glycogen stores thus avoiding hitting the dreaded “wall”, and feeling like you can’t go on. Basically the slow runners have already hit the “Wall” at 15 kms mark and have a dreaded feeling of why did we chose to run in the first place.
- Last but not the least advantage is that our Mentors: Yogesh & Shailesh come back after they finish their run and pace us for the last miles. Slow runners get a feeling that can be compared to a stranded mountaineer in the Alps on seeing a St Bernard. This noble gesture of Yogesh and Shailesh is highly appreciated and ARSRA members have a feeling of gratitude towards this duo.
Disadvantages of Slow Running:
- The first and fore-most disadvantage is that you are missing in the group snap. By the time you finish your race the group cool down and snaps are done with.
- Most of the breakfast is finished by the time we cross the finish line.
- The route water support is almost exhausted when you reach the last few kilometers mark.
- We have to stand in the longest queue for the medal distribution and the breakfast.
- You consider yourself as a blot on the escutcheon amongst the running fraternity.
- You fellow friends make the transformation from slow to fast running and you are still stranded in ARSRA.
- Many runners label themselves as ARSRA members before the race and suddenly sprint their way towards the finish line. You have to bear with them.
Please note the list of advantages is longer!
So ARSRA is both our strength and weakness. Slowly and gradually we have to be fitter with every race. No matter how fast or slow you think of yourself, it’s time to own it. Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith. Run when you can, walk if you have to; just never give up.
Haruki Murakami- The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.
Let’s compete with ourselves. Put all our efforts to beat ourselves. This competitor will never cheat you. This way we can balance our competitive spirit and continue being with our [fast running] colleagues.
You are your own opponent to beat. Forget the pace and just enjoy the run!