As much as I love the speed and intensity of workouts when I’m at Crossfit, when it comes to running, long slow runs have always been my favourite.
I have always called them my “mental health” runs because I don’t worry about my speed and just run at a pace that is comfortable. They give me plenty of time to chill out completely and to get my brain in order (usually well until the next good run :).
I was reading the Runner’s World on the tube this morning and it turns out that long slow runs are not only good for my head but they are also good for my body – they oxygenate the muscles and therefore help them to recover from the fast sessions. During marathon training I often did recovery runs but they tended to be short. I now know that on the days I feel sore from fast runs or from Crossfit, I should not be afraid to go for a long(isn) run :D
I don’t often run with my heart rate monitor but I think I will start to do that more often, it’d be interesting to find out what my heart rate is during my “mental health” runs. The goal should be 60-80% of maximum heart rate, which for me is probably less than about 145 (80%). That equates for me to running at a pace of 5:30-5:40 min / km (I’m looking at my Garmin stats for those 6 runs I have done with a monitor :) and is actually (surprisingly) a bit slower than the speed I usually tend to do my long runs.
Lesson learned today: start using my heart rate monitor again AND not be afraid to go even slower than usual if I have more than 20km planned.