Get faster by running slower

Get faster by running slower

Many runners want to get faster but feel stuck in their current pace. The 80/20 running method suggests that going slower could actually be the secret to speeding up. This article will explore how easing off the gas pedal for most of your runs can lead to impressive gains in speed and endurance.

Keep reading to unlock a counterintuitive approach that might just revolutionize your running routine.

What is the 80/20 Method of Running?

The 80/20 method of running is a training approach that emphasizes doing 80% of your runs at a low intensity and the remaining 20% at high intensity. This principle, also known as polarized training, helps build endurance while reducing injury risk by limiting the amount of stress on your body.

Runners focus most of their weekly mileage on aerobic running to enhance cardiovascular fitness, stamina and fat metabolism adaptations. Then they sprinkle in speed work like tempo runs and interval training to boost their performance without overtraining.

In practice, this means clocking lots of slow miles where you can comfortably hold a conversation. These are paired with fewer but sharper sessions designed to push your pace and challenge your limits.

By spending more time in lower heart rate zones, you give yourself the foundation for significant improvements during those hard-charging days. Adopting this strategy teaches patience and discipline as you learn to balance easy efforts with tough workouts effectively, leading towards becoming a faster runner by primarily running slower.

Benefits of Running Slow for Speed Improvement

Running slower can actually help improve your speed by enhancing your aerobic efficiency, reducing the risk of injury and overtraining, and improving fat metabolism. These benefits can lead to better performance and endurance in the long run.

Improved aerobic efficiency

Running slower can actually improve your aerobic efficiency. By incorporating easy runs into your training, you give your body the opportunity to efficiently utilize oxygen, enhancing endurance and stamina.

This type of training stimulates the cardiovascular system, leading to better circulation and oxygen delivery throughout the body. As a result, you build a stronger foundation for faster running while also preventing burnout from excessive high-intensity workouts.

By including slow runs in your routine, you encourage the development of mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells that help produce energy. This adaptation allows your muscles to use oxygen more effectively and improves overall endurance.

Reduced risk of injury

Running at a slower pace reduces the risk of injury by allowing your body to adapt gradually to the demands of running. By incorporating slow runs into your training, you give your muscles, tendons, and ligaments time to strengthen and adjust, lowering the likelihood of overuse injuries commonly associated with high-intensity training.

This approach also minimizes impact forces on your joints, decreasing the risk of stress-related injuries while still promoting endurance building and aerobic capacity.

Moreover, engaging in slower-paced runs enables better recovery between harder workouts. This prevents muscle fatigue and overtraining while maintaining overall consistency in your training routine, ultimately reducing the chances of sustaining an injury due to physical exhaustion or strain.

Reduced risk of overtraining

Running at a slower pace allows your body to recover and adapt, reducing the risk of overtraining. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even injury. By incorporating slower runs into your training regimen, you give your body the time it needs to rest and repair itself.

Focusing on running at an easy pace for the majority of your workouts helps prevent burnout and allows you to consistently train without pushing yourself too hard. This approach also aids in improving overall endurance while minimizing the chance of overexertion, enabling you to sustain a healthier training routine in pursuit of faster speeds.

Improved fat metabolism

Running slower helps improve fat metabolism, leading to enhanced endurance and better performance. By training at a lower intensity, the body becomes more efficient at using fat as a fuel source during exercise, which can help delay the onset of muscle fatigue during long-distance runs.

This adaptation allows runners to conserve glycogen stores for when they really need them, such as during high-intensity efforts or sprint finishes.

Additionally, improved fat metabolism contributes to overall weight management and body composition. When the body becomes better at utilizing fat for energy, it can help in reducing excess body fat while preserving lean muscle mass.

How to Implement the 80/20 Method in Your Training

To implement the 80/20 method in your training, you need to first determine your easy run pace and then use a heart rate monitor to ensure you are staying within the appropriate zone.

This will help optimize your running efficiency and improve speed over time.

Determine your easy run pace

Determine your easy run pace by running at a speed where you can comfortably hold a conversation. This helps to ensure that you are in the optimal heart rate zone for aerobic development and improved endurance.

  • Start by using the 80/20 method to calculate your easy run pace, which should make up roughly 80% of your weekly mileage.
  • Utilize a heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate during runs, ensuring it stays within the prescribed zone for easy runs.
  • Pay attention to your breathing – if you find yourself gasping for air, slow down until you are able to breathe comfortably.
  • Pace yourself based on perceived effort rather than solely relying on speed or distance, allowing yourself to stay within the designated heart rate zone.

Use a heart rate monitor

To implement the 80/20 method of running, you can benefit from using a heart rate monitor. It helps maintain control over your effort levels and ensures you stay within the recommended training zones.

  1. Set Your Zones: Use your maximum heart rate to calculate the different training zones, allowing you to tailor your workouts accordingly.
  2. Monitor Effort: Keep track of your heart rate during runs to ensure you stay within the prescribed zone for each workout type.
  3. Adjust Workouts: Modify your training intensity based on your heart rate data, ensuring that you maximize the benefits of slow running while avoiding overexertion.
  4. Evaluate Progress: Analyze your heart rate data over time to track improvements in aerobic efficiency and overall speed development.


Incorporating slow running into your training plan can lead to improved aerobic efficiency, reduced injury risk, and better fat metabolism. By implementing the 80/20 method and monitoring heart rate during easy runs, you can enhance your overall speed and endurance.

With patience and dedication, you can achieve significant improvements in performance by embracing the benefits of running slower.


How can slow running benefit me?

Slow running strengthens your heart, boosts fat metabolism adaptations, and reduces injury risk while preparing you for faster tempo runs later on.

Why is zone training important in getting faster?

Zone training helps manage your heart rate during different workout intensities, which can improve both your speed training effectiveness and overall long-distance running technique.

Can I prevent injuries with this slower approach to running?

Yes! Running at a slower pace allows for proper adaptation and minimizes stress on the body, helping to keep you away from injuries commonly associated with high-intensity workouts.

Does mixing in other activities help with my running goals?

Definitely! Crosstraining lets you build fitness without overworking the same muscles used in running; it’s great for variation and promoting balanced muscle development.

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