© (Getty Images) Running at a conversational pace means you can catch up with friends and exercise at the same time. My first memories of running are from elementary school. Each year we had to run a timed mile in gym class. I would dread that day for weeks and would try to come up with any excuse to get out of participating. Why? Because I was slow. Painfully slow. Think last-kid-in-the-class slow. It was mortifying, and for years to come, I was self-conscious about my slow run times.
Many of my clients have similar stories. While they don't hate running, they feel like it's not worth it because they are so slow.But this couldn't be further from the truth. Running can be a simple, beneficial exercise for many people. Slow or fast, you'll still reap loads of benefits. And if you are slow, you certainly won't be alone: A recent report found that American runners have clocked markedly slower race times over the past 20 years. So before you ditch your running shoes, consider why slow running can actually be a good thing:
1. You'll be less likely to get injured.
One of the main reasons people stop running? Injuries. And one of the main causes of those injuries? Running too fast, too hard, too soon. Many people head out the door and run as hard as they can, no matter how often they work out. Running at a fast pace puts tremendous stress and strain on your body. After a fast run, your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones sustain some type of trauma. Over the long run, this sustained trauma can lead to burnout and injuries. Whether you are just starting to run or have been running for years, slow runs are a great way to change up your fitness routine.
2. You'll help your body adapt to running.
If you haven't run in awhile, slow running is a great way to wean your body back into this type of movement. It will help your tendons, ligaments, joints, bones and muscles build up strength and get used to the stress of running. Slow runs are also a great way to incorporate active movement the day after a tough workout.
3. You'll see huge mental and emotional benefits.
No matter how fast or slow, the mental benefits of running are clear. Running has been shown to lower stress, improve self-esteem and even keep your mind sharp, with research showing that running can protect your brain against Alzheimer's disease. Whether it's the high that comes from crossing the finish line at a race or the endorphin rush you get after a post-work run, running is a surefire way to even out your mood.
We know that running is good for our hearts, lungs and arteries, and research confirms that these benefits occur no matter what pace you run. Slow and fast running have similar effects when it comes to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
5. You'll be able to exercise anywhere.
One of the best parts about running is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. You'll save time (and money) not commuting to the gym. And since you can do it anywhere, travel workouts become even easier. Running can also be a fun way to explore a new place.
Slow running is typically defined as running at a pace where you can still keep up a conversation. You should pretty easily be able to chat with a friend while running. Make that work to your advantage by scheduling run dates with your friend or partner. Catch up over some morning miles instead of evening drinks.
Ready to get started? Try alternating minutes of running with walking breaks. These short walking breaks help lower fatigue and soreness, and accelerate post-run recovery. Plus, you may also find that you're able to run faster when you take short walk breaks, especially over longer distances.