Slow-itis. When you just can’t help but run slow

Today I contracted a bad case of Slow-itis. I didn’t even see it coming. You KNOW what I’m talking about, right? Just when you think you’ve got this running thing down, you’ll  go out for a run and it is just SLOW. So slow. And you can’t figure out why, on that day, your body decides to reject your past training and manages to stay in putt-putt mode for the entire workout.

Please, tell me I’m not the only one to fall victim to Unplaned Slow-itis.

Situation: I woke up this morning with cramps in my hamstrings. YEEEOUUUCH!!! I’m no stranger to the muscular seizures that can invade feet and calves,  but I rarely experience hamstring cramps of such intensity.  I stuck my legs up and vigorously pointed and flexed my foot, rubbed my legs and said nasty things until the pain stopped. It is not the ideal way to start the day.

After stumbling around my apartment and peeking out the window, I decided to delay the morning’s run.  My legs felt distinctly heavy and a little swollen (result of this weekend’s trail running perhaps?). I hoped some coffee would help.

Finally, when  I couldn’t procrastinate a moment longer, I laced up, left the apartment and crossed the street. Somehow crossing the street mentally commits me to the run. I started Phil and began running. Within the first block I knew it. I could feel it. I felt slow. Horribly, horrendously, awfully SLOW.  Today, for whatever reason, my legs decided that they only had one speed. Efforts to convince, cajole, bribe or threaten them to run faster would be futile. I had contracted a case of slow-itis.

I sighed and wondered why one day we can feel like running superstars and on other days we can feel like our legs are filled with putty and are incapable of more than a shuffle. Why is that? And why can’t we anticipate it better?

I had a few options: I could stop and turn around. I could fight it and see if I would snap out of it, or I could accept my situation and make the best of it.

So, I thought, if I’m going to have a slow day, I’m going to have the best damn slow day ever.

The slow-itis and I made it through 12 miles. I only freaked out a teensy tiny bit when I saw a mile split appear on Phil (Garmin 405) that started with the number 10.  What? No, did it really take me over ten minutes to run that last mile? Granted. I was going up a VERY steep uphill climb in the woods with lots of switchbacks and we all know that Phil isn’t very accurate in switchbacks in Forest Park. But still, STILL (!!) It is hard not to feel inadquete. Instead I just concentrated on what I could do, even while running slow. I reviewed my stride. I thought about efficient way to manage hilly trails. I relaxed my shoulders.

It wasn’t a bad run, but it left a funny taste in my mouth, if that makes sense. It wasn’t satsifying  and it wasn’t easy. It was just annoying. I just hope my case of Slow-itis clears up quickly. I don’t care for it one bit.


About heatherdaniel

I'm a runner, writer, eater and traveler.
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9 Responses to Slow-itis. When you just can’t help but run slow

  1. Tom says:

    “Slow-itis” – love it. It happens to us all!

    Love the blog by the way.

    Check mine out at

    Thanks for the reading!


  2. Ana-Maria says:

    Slow runs are annoying. I usually stop my Garmin when I have a slow day, unless I am training for something. I am sure your legs will go back to their super-fast self shortly! Ana-Maria

  3. I know what you mean. Slow runs suck! It’s so unsatisfying…especially when there’s no clear reason why you’re running so slow. Nothing hurts, nothing’s sore, you’re just slow. And then what inevitably happens is that my pride takes over and I end up running faster than I should which kind of messes everything up. Urrgghh!

    I like how you are able to focus and keep the same slow effort throughout even though you started slow. I really need to learn to handle these kinds of runs better.

  4. Mike g says:

    I’ve also had a bad case of slowitis lately. I blamed it on the heat. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one.

    Hey at least it’s not swine flu?

  5. That sounds like a heavy run. Sorry to hear about the affliction. Still, good call to make the slow run the best slow run ever.

  6. JimR says:

    May I pipe up and say that you should be deliberately scoping these embarrsingly slow runs into your schedule? If you aren’t doing that, I’m not sure you’re going to be able to maintain levels of 70+ mile weeks without crashing and burning. Warmup/cooldown is one thing, but you need to have reasonable number of simply easy stuff in your week and you need to know what easy is. Sounds to me like you’re trying to convince yourself that your easy pace is a lot faster than it should be. Don’t be afraid to run slow. Keep your quality runs restricted to your quality runs.

    • heatherdaniel says:

      Good call JimR, I have a hard time remembering to keep my easy runs easy. I do “schedule” easy runs but I tend to run by feel and many times find myself running faster than I should. Thanks for the great reminder that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to run slow!

  7. Susan says:

    I think it takes more effort to keep running on those “slow” days than it does to turn around and call it a day. Your legs were probably telling you that they needed a little bit of a break, so they’ll probably reward you later for being nice to them and taking it slow today.

  8. Irish Cream says:

    Sometimes, as frustrating as it can be, it’s just a “slow” day. And you can either quit . . . or you can embrace it, and take in all of the wonderful scenery of the areas you usually breeze by. I think, given the amazing and challenging trail runs you completed recently, your legs were just ready for some nice, slow running. You’ll be back to super speedy soon! 🙂

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