There are books that have changed my life, but there are also podcast episodes. One example of this is Episode #787 of the Art of Manliness podcast, entitled Run Like a Pro (Even If You’re Slow). In it, Brett McKay talks with Matt Fitzgerald, a sports writer, a running coach, and the co-author of the book with the same name as the podcast episode.
The gist of the episode is that even shorter, slower runs help build fitness. And, in fact, this is what elite-level runners do. So these days I deliberately go for runs where my heart rate stays well below 140bpm. The upside for me is that it increases my ability to do my longer runs, faster.
This article in The New York Times backs this up with research showing the physiological and psychological benefits of runs of any length. See also this recent interview with Matt Fitzgerald.
Numerous long-term studies — some involving thousands of participants — have shown that running benefits people physically and mentally. Research has also found that runners tend to live longer and have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer than nonrunners.
One might assume that in order to reap the biggest rewards, you need to regularly run long distances, but there’s strong evidence linking even very short, occasional runs to significant health benefits, particularly when it comes to longevity and mental well-being.
The physiological benefits of running may be attributable to a group of molecules known as exerkines, so named because several of the body’s organ systems release them in response to exercise. While research on exerkines is relatively new, studies have linked them to reductions in harmful inflammation, the generation of new blood vessels and the regeneration of cellular mitochondria, said Dr. Lisa Chow, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota who has published research on exerkines.
Source: Short Distance Runs Have Major Health Benefits | The New York Times