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Go Slow To Go Fast
October 22, 2018
By Howard Mann

I never thought that I had any aerobic capacity. I have worked out with weights for years but had become convinced that I had smaller lungs or some other lie I told myself enough to believe it as truth.

Last year, I decided to follow my own FYP advice and start running. For myself. At first, the goal was simply to run 1 mile. Seems simple enough but was not so easy for me. I now can run a 10K with relative ease and am targeting a half marathon in the coming months.

What I want to share with you is how my initial approach to running was all wrong. For the first 6 months, I pushed myself to run as hard and fast as possible.  Each time, I finished gasping for air and with legs that were wrecked for the next few days.  But grinding as hard as you can and going as quickly as you can is what it is all about. Right? No pain, no gain, etc…

About 5 months ago I stumbled upon a great book called Finding Ultra by one of my favorite podcasters, Rich Roll. While this very well written book is about a lot more than running, Mr. Roll takes up running after a long battle with alcoholism. His goal, at first, was just to get healthy for his family and life. As he progresses, he decides he needs a more audacious goal and sets his sights on running a race called the Ultraman. The Ultraman entails swimming 6.2 miles, cycling 260 miles and running 52.4 miles over three consecutive days.

To accomplish this, Rich (Yes, I am calling Rich by his first name with the hope that he will read this and instantly want to hang out) searches for a coach to help him prepare to finish this extreme race in just a few months.

When he reached out to ultra-endurance coach Chris Hauth, Rich was already running 20+ miles at a time in the hills and mountains near Los Angeles so what his new coach told him caught him by complete surprise.

“You need to slow down if you want to go fast.”

It turns out that the old idea of running with your heart rate chugging along at your aerobic capacity (Roughly 220 minus your age or ~170 beats per minute (BPM) for me) just burn out your muscles and is not nearly as efficient in building the long-term aerobic foundation that can carry you to ever longer distances.  For those that are interested, the better approach is heart zone training which is MUCH slower than you are probably used to, at first.  For me, it means staying in the 140 BPM range.  I can go as fast as possible as long as I keep my heart rate in that zone. This zone allows me to enjoy my runs and go for much longer distances. At first, it felt more like a shuffle than a run but, fairly quickly, I was going faster and faster while keeping my heart rate in this lower zone. More importantly, I was able to run daily without the soreness and fatigue that had made running so difficult for me to sustain in the past.  My distances quickly increased.  My resting heart rate improved.  I had built a foundation and a lasting capacity to go faster and farther. By going slower.

In case you have not picked up on it yet, this article is entirely about business.

In fact, it may be about you and your business.

Go slow to go fast.

Stop with the hustle and grind bullshit, slow down and spend the time on the things that will create a foundation of incredible speed and capacity in your business.

Go slow to go fast.

Who are you racing against?  Do they matter (If you read my book then you know how I feel about chasing your competitors)?

Go slow to go fast.

Just as I wrote about when talking about having a 36 month year, most businesses are stuck racing for incremental gains. They do not take the time to think bigger and THEN take even more time to build up the capacity required to realize that type of growth.

If every year you are racing to hit your numbers and hope the next year will be a bit better then you must change your thinking.

You know the saying, it’s a marathon and not a sprint? It makes us feel good to say it.  How often do we live it?


(P.S. Another connection to running and business is what has happened to my creativity and ability to solve tough business challenges while running.  After the first 15 minutes or so, there is something meditative about chugging along at a speed where you are not gasping for air or in pain.  I wrote most of this article in my head during a run. I have solved some very tough challenges for my clients in mile 3 or 4.  Unlike meditation, where the goal is to not dwell on thoughts, running has provided me great uninterrupted thinking time. If you have struggled with calming your mind or are wrestling with an intractable problem, try a long and patient run).

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