Go OutsideThe Running Plateau

The Running Plateau


Most runners who have been in this sport for a few years have experienced a plateau in their running performance at some point. The personal records (PR’s), also what I call the “low hanging fruit” come rather quickly and more easily in your first few years of running. Then almost quite suddenly it is much tougher to lower your fastest times at various distances. A mental roadblock sets up as well and you feel stagnant, thinking your fastest days in this sport are long gone.

I’m amazed at how many runners lament that their best days are behind them and that they just can not seem to get faster. More times than not as I continue to dig deeper and ask more questions, which is easy, as most runners like to talk about their own running. I quickly find out that they are not logging enough miles to get the outcome they expect. I’m not advocating that grinding out more miles is simply the answer for everyone but in many cases this is the key component that is missing.

I guess I should not be so shocked when almost every major running periodical gives training plans to run your fastest 5k to marathon distance with a sparse mileage plan. The fast food, faster technology, faster everything even has cemented a place with running. What these cookie cutter plans offer is getting the most while doing the minimum, boasting instant success! I’m just amazed that there is not more information about running more miles not less to eventually become a faster, stronger runner. I know that finding the time to do more running can be the main deterrent but if you want it badly enough you can get creative and work it into your schedule. You may have to drop that spin class or day of paddling for a period of time. I know runners who do all sorts of crazy things to get the miles needed to be successful which can involve a headlamp and a forgiving spouse. I also know runners who complain that they will never PR again but run only 3 days a week.

I’m a huge advocate of adding an extra a run or two per week to improve your running performance. If you fall into the category of running less than seven days per week and you want to get better then an extra run or two should improve your running. On the flip side this needs to be done smartly to avoid injury. You need to pay attention to how you are feeling and keep a good descriptive running log for feedback. By slowly ramping up your mileage you will see the benefits down the road.

Most runners who are pretty serious already crank out the long runs and the speed workouts each week. However a lot of runners including myself do not like the recovery runs or mileage sandwiched in between the epic more fun stuff. These runs are often not as glamorous as that Tuesday night track workout. This is also the main reason why these miles are often neglected. However this is where you pick up the extra benefit of more training time on your feet. These added miles will build your overall fitness and endurance. The effects of added miles take longer for some and needs to be followed by a good taper leading up to your goal event. How much will you improve also depends upon your biomechanics and physiology but overall an improvement should be seen.

So if you are looking for a magic bullet to get faster than look no further to adding some slower mileage to your weekly plan. You’ll probably curse this training tip now but reap the rewards later. The choice is yours, accept the status quo or get out there and hit the trails.

Places to Go, Things to See: