Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When you want to stop….speed up

The day after completing the Standard Chartered half marathon, I’d been discussing the Run with a friend, and mentioned how I’d slowed down to a walk at the Peddar Road flyover.

His reaction was instantaneous – “Never do that. When you come to a hill, speed up, don’t slow down.” Either my silence was eloquent, or he saw my jaw drop, because he continued, “don’t tell me you are one of those who slows down when she is tired.”

“But obviously,” I shot back. If I want to finish the run, I have to conserve myself, so when I get really tired and want to stop, I slow down to let my body recover.”

His snort was almost audible. “Don’t know much about running, do you?”, he asked with superior air I found slightly aggravating – after all, hadn’t I just finished the half-marathon in a little over two and a half hours and lived to tell the tale. “Well, unlike you, I am not a runner. I just run because I like to.”

“I can see that”, he said. “Well, the cardinal rule of running is – when you are tired, speed up, don’t slow down. When you come to a hill, run a little faster. And every five or ten minutes, sprint for one minute before slowing down to your normal speed.”

It sounded totally counterintuitive, and I told him so, but his explanation seemed to make sense. When you increase your speed, your protesting body is forced to start working harder, but it soon gets used to it. So when you slow down to the original speed, the body actually starts to feel rested.

Six months to the day after I received the advice, I finally got to try it out, and it actually worked!!! For the first time ever, I ran on a gradient, and did not collapse with the effort.

‘When you want to stop, speed up!’ It works when you are running. I wonder if it will work in real life too?

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