It's difficult teaching rats to run
I'm still a slow runner. I don't think I can do anything about it until after the 11th of March - the day of the Six Foot Track Marathon.
I don't want to suffer in this race so I'm still doing long slow runs in training - 29km yesterday in a bit over 3 hours. I'm finding it hard to change my form in other training sessions from the ultra runner's shuffle.
I've been thinking about the benefits of slow, or more accurately 'low heart-rate' training, since reading the article mentioned by Robert Song. One of the findings mentioned in this article was that the maximum improvement in slow twitch muscle fibres of laboratory rats occurred when they did long runs at 50-70% of VO2max (low heart-rate running).
One thing you can't do with laboratory rats is change the way they run. You can't teach them to run with the expansive stride of a Sebastian Coe. Rats only have one way of running - a shuffle. When running 'fast', it's a fast shuffle. A shuffling stride is only good if you want to be an ultra-distance runner. Yiannis Kouros would have a very high development of mitochondria but his best marathon time of 2:25 was quite modest.
Frank Horwill summed up the laboratory rat research of Gary Dudley this way: "To bring about the greatest adaptive response in mitochondria, the length of daily exercise becomes less as the intensity of the exercise is increased."
There's a great benefit to be had from learning the running form used by good middle distance athletes. By learning the shape and quickness of their stride pattern. If you can do this you'll be able to run faster over 800 and 1500 metres. Your longer races will feel easier because the speed of these is so much slower than your newly aquired middle distance speed.