I have been running regularly for almost 30 years. With a PR of 1:37 on the half marathon and 45 minutes on the 10K, I rank among the “average runners” and that’s how I feel.
Although I worked for a major sports brand from Germany for many years (and have been involved with Stryd from a very early stage) my running was always something with no strings attached. “Nice walk” was the main thing for me. Keeping the body healthy was a priority. PR’s never affected me that much. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be fanatic and take it easy on me. Walking several times a week – although I often couldn’t find the time to do so – was and is a goal that I try to pursue.
Long distances seemed out of reach for me; a 10K “still went”, but a half marathon was a real challenge and despite several attempts I never managed to run a full marathon, because I always got injured during the preparation.
But, with today’s knowledge, it is clear that I trained completely wrong for a long time and did not use all those kilometers to the maximum and put unnecessary strain on my body.
Since I started running I have always focused on speed; the time it takes me to travel a kilometer. After Stryd came onto the market, I switched from speed to power. Although I am a firm believer in running on wattage, this article is not about the pros and cons of power itself, but about the “zones” I discovered thanks to the power meter and how to train in / with these zones differently. runner made me. Thanks to corona.
What I never realized during all those years of running is that I often ran too fast and too hard. Because I thought that training on my “ability” was the way to improve myself. Whether I was running 5, 10 or 20 kilometers, I always focused on my “average speed” of around 5 minutes per kilometer, or later with power, around 260 as my “average wattage”.
Yes, I worked for a sports brand, but I also lived in China for a long time, with the well-known air pollution. That meant running was often a lonely affair on a treadmill at home or in the gym. And since I don’t like time limits and have always had jobs where free time is a non-existent luxury, I never really bothered to delve into the science of getting faster, especially on the longer distances, because “that could be done. I don’t walk anyway ”.
To a revealing and performance-improving coincidence of circumstances: working from home due to COVID and the approximately simultaneous release of the training plan functionality in the Stryd app for my Apple Watch.
Because of corona, I suddenly traveled a lot less than ever before in my working life. Suddenly I had more time for running and also to finally get to know “the science behind performance improvement”. And it was a revelation.
I followed the programmed training plan in the Stryd app and was amazed how slowly I had to walk according to that app. In fact, in the beginning I simply couldn’t run that “slow”. But with more time available and with slower walking, my “average distance” per run suddenly became a lot longer.
My regular 5K “tour around the church” suddenly became 10 kilometers a few times a week. But with a clearly less physical strain. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Even more amazing was that my “Critical Power” (in the definition of “Stryd”: my peak power for about 50 minutes) went up by over 7%. I walked slower, but my “output” went up !? How was that possible?
When I started to delve into “how is that possible”, a “world of running zones” opened up for me. I had heard of walking in different zones but did nothing about it. However, for me running is now nothing more than a varied schedule of interval training, easy runs and long distances with low intensity; a constant mix of both walking in low zones and good exercise in high zones. Yes, I now run a bit more kilometers per week than before, but it is completely clear to me that with such a varying approach I could have improved years ago.
The reason for finally writing this article is the revelation that “walking slower” eventually makes me faster. Perhaps a well-known fact to many, but how many average runners who want to get faster know or actually do?
Although I have a PR of 45 minutes in 10 kilometers, it wasn’t just over 20 years ago and I weighed at least 10 kilos less, as long as I can remember I couldn’t even get below 53 minutes. And yet, recently I ran 10 kilometers in 50 minutes! Next goal is a half marathon. A distance that I have not run for more than 2 decades, but where I have been getting closer and closer in my training in recent weeks and that I should be able to walk in 1:52 according to the race calculator in my Stryd app: 5 months ago that was unthinkable!
And now I even play with the thought that a full marathon might be possible after all! Then corona really made me a better runner!