Force Yourself To Slow Down For Better Results

Have you ever had to force yourself to slow down?  What about if you’re looking for better results?  This seems counterproductive, but sometimes it’s quite necessary.  For me, I’ve had to recently go through this when it comes to exercise.  Specifically, with my running.

My Wife The Motivator

I was never a runner at all until a few years ago.  In seventh grade, I joined the track team and dropped out a week later.  It was just never my thing.

But a few years ago, my wife got the idea to run a 5K.  That seemed like a huge deal, and I tracked her progress closely.  I was really excited when she ran her first race successfully.

The next year she jumped up to wanting to do a half marathon.  At this point, I started thinking that if she could get into running, maybe I could as well.

While I never rallied to run a half marathon (she did finish hers), I did start running pretty regularly.  So much that I’ve had to shut myself down.  Twice.

Two Times The Ouch

Both times I’ve had to stop running it was because I started developing problems in my feet.  The first time, I started getting symptomns of plantar fasciitis in both feet.  This was painful and could only be corrected by rest.  So I shut down for a few months.

After the soreness went away, I started running again.  I started using some inserts in my shoes to help give me support, as it turns out that my walking and running step is a bit uneven.

The supports helped.  I ran regularly for awhile, but eventually had to shut down again.

The second time wasn’t exclusively plantar fasciitis, but it again required a shutdown from my routine.

Both times it happened, I had been increasing my intensity.  As it turns out, I’d been overdoing it.

Now, I started running again.  This time, I’m purposefully slowing myself down in three key areas.  All of these are designed to help me prevent having to shut my routine down for a third time.


Both times when I started feeling soreness, I was running 5-6 times per week.  This is too much.  I wasn’t letting my feet get the necessary rest between workouts.

Now, I’m forcing myself to run no more than four times per week.  My current routine is to run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

This way, I’m never running more than twice per week.  When I do, it’s only on one occasion.  And, except for that one back to back, I’m getting an important day of rest.


Last year, I got into running outdoors.  Prior to that, it was all treadmill for me.  I got into running outside so much that I really increased my distance.  I was going 5-6 miles per run at least 2-3 times per week.

Again, that was just too much.

Now, even though I’m indoors until the weather breaks, I’m still limiting myself to 4 mile runs.  Between cutting back the number of days, and the length of the runs, I’m probably cutting my total distance by about half.  The current routine definitely feels more comfortable.


When I work out, I always challenge myself to improve.  If I lift weights, I look to lift more weight or do more reps.  If I do cardio, I strive to increase my pace or distance.  I’ve always done this.  During both of my past running regimens, I was focusing on this as well.  Probably a little too much.   Last year, I started off running at about a 10:30 minutes per mile pace.  By the time I shut down, I had shaved about a minute off of that.

That all sounds great, and definitely felt good when I logged them, but my feet told me it wasn’t a great idea.

Now, I’m forcing myself to slow down.  I now look to finish with about a 10:45 minute per mile pace.  As it turns out, this is just fine.  I still come away very sweaty.  I still burn a lot of calories.  That feeling of accomplishment?  Still there.  And what’s the difference really?  For a four mile run, it’s about three minutes.  I’m willing to add three minutes of running time to my day if it means I can keep my routine going longer.  It seems like a perfect trade off to me.

Lessons Learned

In the end, I’ve realized that bettering myself isn’t always about getting better.  I have forced myself to get out of the mentality that I have to push my limits.  Not only is it bad for my feet, but I have to probably accept my age as well.  The time for targeting personal best after personal best was probably 10-20 years ago.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t running then.

But I am now, and I’m trying to be smart about it.

Readers, do you ever find you have to slow down when it seems opposite of what you should do?

14 thoughts on “Force Yourself To Slow Down For Better Results”

    • I didn’t start running until I was after 40 so I didn’t put all the miles on that others have. Hopefully this lets me get a good few years in before my body starts forcing me to scale back a lot.

  1. I get it. I’ve been nursing a foot injury since late September. This time it wasn’t a running injury, it was a hiking injury in Colorado. Too many leaps down a steep mountain trail. You’ve got to pace yourself. It’s that way in life too.

  2. Every body is different. There are so many factors to take in to consideration as well. Some people are less flexible, for example. Also running outdoors is more “stressful” than on a treadmill; cement worse than asphalt. A person’s gait pattern (do you pronate?) as well as body structure can all have an impact (do you have “morton’s toe?”). Increase intensity and distance can sometimes cause a small thing to have a greater impact. Slowing down, doing a little tracking and analysis may help uncover what you need to do in order to move up to the next level. And you’re right. Age unfortunately does factor in too.

  3. Absolutely! Spavined the dainty back trying to get back into shape (come ON! Is three brisk miles THAT extreme???). Took almost a month to get over that fitness project…

    BTW, in my experience the best treatment for plantar fascitis is a good physical therapist.

    • I would have considered PT had it not resolved, but pretty much every runner that I talked to said that plain old rest was the best remedy, and afterward getting the right support level in your shoes.

      I think I recall your treks going up the hill several months back and I’m assuming that was the cause of your back issues. Maybe not so brisk is the key?

      • No, it actually wasn’t the mountain frolics. It was walking right here in the ‘hood, on the flat. It’s such a PITA to walk with the two dogs — one drags you forward, the other drags you backward — that I’d stopped at the neighborhood park on the way home, circumnavigated it dog-free twice (total: about two miles), and then came home. Feeling guilty about not walking the livestock, I took the pup out for another mile’s stroll. We were doing so well, I added an extra quarter-mile side jaunt (total: an extra half-mile, which ain’t much…). Was OK by the time I got home but within an hour or two thought I was gunna die. Apparently the body was Not Amused.

  4. To be honest, this is one of my biggest struggles. I’m a huge work out warrior. My problem is not my foot, it’s my knees. I recently partially tore my meniscus and I don’t push myself as hard running anymore. I try to run three times a week, but I mix this up with leg presses and I have noticed real improvement.

  5. I’ve slowed down a lot with my workout. I used to run 6 miles every single day, and last year I had a really bad back accident (pretty much made it hard to move for 7 months). It really puts things into perspective for you.

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