Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner

Learning to run slow


One of the most important caveats that I’ve had to learn at altitude so far is the importance of running slow.

Wait, what?

I know, I ultimately moved here to run faster, not slower. Hear me out. 

Changing thought

I love my aerobic runs. I love running a decently fast pace on my aerobic runs. However, since moving to 5,000 ft. I heard the necessity of running easy on aerobic/recovery days echoed again and again.

Run your easy runs easy, so you can run your hard runs hard. 

Fair enough.

Recovering from hard efforts is not something to be taken lightly, especially when you’re operating in altitude. Even when you’re acclimated, you’re still depleting your body more than you would at sea level.

I understood, but still had a tough time breaking the habit. I’d wear my GPS watch on aerobic runs purely to keep my pace in check, routinely swearing at myself when I would inevitably see mile splits that dipped too low. There was a constant game of tug-of-war going down between my mental and physical capacities. Highly obnoxious.

The “aha” moment

The tug-of-war game continued until I had what I’ll call my running slow “aha” moment several weeks ago. I finished a decent workout, started my three mile cool-down, and realized that I genuinely didn’t want to run one damn bit faster than I absolutely had to. It was more of a glorified shuffle, if you will.

It. Was. Fantastic. I got it. Running slow…is pretty awesome.

Solo to supported

I could be completely delusional, but the partial neurosis that a year of solitary training propagated in me was difficult to let go of. I didn’t fully comprehend the amount of mental energy I was expending before and during workouts alone until now.

Conversely, I also had a difficult time summoning that amount of intensity explicitly for workout days without allowing it seep into my regular runs as well.

Having a group to run with out here has already changed my training for the better in so many ways. Group runs let me enjoy the recovery that aerobic days should be without getting impatient. It’s more than just a run; it’s a much needed social outlet as well.


One of the many Sunday long run group pictures, courtesy of Brad Hudson. 

It’s only been two months here, but I just fall more and more in love with this place.


Author: Alia Teixido Gray

I like reading, writing, running, and drinking coffee. Lots of it.

7 thoughts on “Learning to run slow

  1. It’s a whole new mindset when you’re training in altitude. ^_^

  2. I’ve been training for ultras this summer so I too have become well acquainted with running slow. Unlike you though, my runs are mostly flat and at sea level … but I still have to run them slowly because I don’t come home for five hours at a time. Kind of looking forward to not having this regimen anymore.

    But the few times I’ve run out west and at altitude have been standout experiences for me. If I ever move from Chicago, it’d be to Colorado or Utah. Only time will tell.

  3. I see you are running the Twin Cities Marathon. Good luck to you! I just hope you don’t lap me twice before I finish. It’s going to be my first marathon!

    • Hey Jason! Apologies for the delayed response. I ended up with a last minute foot injury, so I had to sit this one out. I hope you had a great race though, and you’re recovering well!

      • Sorry to hear about your foot! Temporary setbacks are just that – I hope you heal quickly (pardon the pun). My first marathon was a great experience! The wall hit me like a ton of bricks but I stuck with it. I’m recovering well with some ice (and beer too). Best of luck on your next race!

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