By Christopher Cudworth
You’re sick of running fast. Admit it. You’d really like to know how to run slower so that you can avoid the pressure of always having to train and try so hard to get faster.
Plus, there’s nothing like going slower to gain a little more attention and be seen during races. Those runners who go flying by at 5:00 pace? You only see them for a few moments. What kind of fun is that? You want to give race spectators something to share. To savor. You’re like a fine wine pouring slowly out of the bottle. So take in the bouquet. Slow it down even more.
But be prepared to make some sacrifices. Becoming a slower runner truly is an art form. You can’t just go out there and expect to get slower without working at it.
So here’s some hints on how to get slower with the best of them.
#1: Avoid speedwork at all costs.
You heard us. What about the word “speed” don’t you get? If you’re going to get good and slow, then speed cannot be part of your vocabulary. It is especially vital to avoid those group speed workouts where you get pulled along during intervals and run much faster than you ever expected. That’s a complete no-no.
#2: Eat anything you like.
The best way to get slower is to simultaneously get fatter. We said fatter, not faster. That means eating lots of carbohydrates and keeping your mileage low enough that the energy in those carbs goes straight into making pudge. That’s the organic way to slow yourself down.
#3: Party on Wayne
Another great way to get slower is to party like there’s no tomorrow. That means staying up late all week and then staying up even later on the weekends. It’s especially important that you stay up exceedingly late the night before any race or event. It’s always good to have that “draggy” feeling in your legs when you wake up. We also advise drinking lots and lots of alcohol. A hangover is good for slowing you down.
#4: Avoid sex
There’s nothing like a little sexual tension to make you all tight and nervous for your runs. It’s true what they say, “A tense runner is a slow runner.” So no more sex for you. No whacking it or rubbing the nub either. That’s cheating on your commitment to become really slow. It is a documented and well-known fact that orgasms actually make you able to faster. They loosen up the muscles and make you all happy and stuff. So stop it. Now. We said stop it!
#5: Always run alone.
The best thing about running alone is that you can’t tell how fast you’re really going and neither can anyone else. So lope along slowly guys and gals. And do it all alone. You may even reach that ephemeral feeling known as Slow Runner Bliss. It’s kind of the opposite of Runner’s High. There is even a likelihood you will sit down on a park bench or curl up in the grass next to the running trail to immerse yourself in that state of bliss known as Stopping. That could lead to a new Nike slogan in fact. Just Go With It.
#6: Keep those old shoes.
To become a slow runner it is best to keep your running shoes so long they become flat and thin and hard. That way your body will be absorbing all the impact of the concrete on which you must consistently run to become a truly slow and beat down runner. If your shoes break down and slant to one side or the other, all the better. Really bad biomechanics are part of the art form known as Slow Running. Lean on, people.
#7: Never hydrate.
Drinking fluids of any kind will result in a state of hydration. This must be avoided at all costs. It is better for slower runners to maintain a constant state of dry tongue and even itchy skin. That way you know you are underhydrated on every run.
#8: Wear really baggy clothes
You know the look and you love it. Big floppy shorts that look as if they fell off the butt of some lowgrade hoops star. Shirts that are so big they cannot possibly be tucked in. If you are actually going to risk wearing tights it is best if you layer up with shorts that catch the wind and make you look like a really, really slow dork who doesn’t know how to dress for running. Psychology counts you know.
#9: Go minimalist
There’s no better way to assure yourself of slow running than to get rid of shoes. Running barefoot or in minimalist footwear will make you optimally efficient and really, really slow. Want proof? The last person to win any sort of race barefoot was Abebe Bikila, and that was back in 1968. There are reports that the rest of the runners threw that race as a kind of Olympic joke in protest of some international policy they did not like. Yet the legend persists that running barefoot or close to it will make you fast. But the joke’s on you. If you do go minimalist, enjoy going slower. You’ve hit the perfect formula.
#10: Always remember the slow runner’s mantra…
Coulda Woulda Shoulda. That’s the phrase that runners who go slow must repeat to themselves with every mile they run. “I coulda gone faster today if I had wanted to,” you’ll hear slow runners say. But we say embrace your slow running in totality. “I could have gone slower today if I had wanted” sounds so much better. We guarantee people will turn their heads and ask, “What did you just say?” To which you can repeat the phrase and then watch their mouths drop as they move away from you at the cocktail party. That’s the Loneliness of the Slow Distance Runner. It’s one of the tarsnakes of the running existence. It takes courage to run really slow, and it’s a hard life. But someone’s got to do it.
So go ahead and Slow Down. It’s really the only way to earn attention and respect in this hustle-bustle world. The rest of those jerks trying to run faster? They’re all caught up in the Rat Race. So it’s up to you to set the pace, and make it slow. You’ll be a better person for it, especially if you finish last.