Why your running isn’t improving:
Are you wondering why you running isn’t improving? Whether you’ve just run your first race or you’ve been running for a while, it seems that most runners are looking to improve. For some that means a faster pace, for others it means feeling strong at the finish and for others it means feeling like you’re running the miles instead of having the miles run you.
Whatever your reasons for improvement there may be a few things holding you back:
You’re running too fast
Sometimes when you have reached a certain level of fitness you’re afraid that running slower than that pace means you’ve lost fitness. So you run all your runs at the same speed and often try to run faster to beat yesterday’s time. Attempting to run fast on every run can actually hold you back and hinder fitness gains. One of the reasons your running isn’t improving is because you’re running too fast on your easy days. Save hard efforts for once or twice a week and slow down on your other runs by at least 90 seconds per mile. Ideally your easy pace runs should be about two minutes slower than your 5K pace and your recovery pace should be about three minutes slower.
You’re running too slow
Conversely, if you’re not seeing improvement in your running it may mean it is time to pick up the pace on a few runs. Introducing faster intervals of running into your training can bring increased fitness and improve both your times and the way you feel while running. The reason your running isn’t improving might be tied to a lack of stimulus. You have to stress the body enough for it to create adaptation. Consider increasing the intensity of one run per week by adding in an interval session like the ones listed below:
- One on, One off: Warm up with a mile of easy running. Then run one minute hard, followed by a minute of easy jogging. Repeat this for a mile or more. Then cool down with a mile of easy running.
- Three on, Two off: Warm up with a mile of easy running, then run three minutes hard, followed by two minutes of easy jogging. Repeat this for several miles. Cool down with a mile of easy running.
- Hill Repeats: Warm up with an easy mile. Then find a short hill, run 6×30 seconds sprints up the hill. Jogging back down for recovery. Cool down with an easy mile.
You’re not consistent
Consistent effort is they key to seeing major improvements in your running. Often times we follow a training plan for a “big race” and then once the race is over our running is reduced to just a few times a week. We become inconsistent until the next big race, when you ramp-up your training again. Consider staying consistent with your weekly mileage even after your big race is over. If you’ve just finished training for a big race, say a half marathon, come back the week after with 50% of the mileage you did the week prior to your taper for the race. Then two weeks out run about 75% of that volume and three weeks after go back to running the same mileage you ran in the weeks leading up to your half-marathon. Maintaining a base and running consistently will put you in a position to make significant improvements in your running.
Sarah is a certified running coach with the RRCA and USATF and has created training plans for beginner to advanced runners. You can learn more about their coaching services HERE.
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