One of the more frustrating situations for runners is hitting a running plateau that you just can’t shake. Break through that running plateau in best way possible and reach new heights by understanding why and how.
First off, plateaus are a part of the training process; inevitably, in your running career you’ll reach great highs, lows and irritating plateaus. The good news is that it is not permanent and it’s often external factors in your life which can cause your training to stall. If it’s not injury, which means recovery is your only solution, then it’s typically a psychological barrier you’re trying to break through.
Overtraining is a common problem and it will likely also have a mental side to it, and that often means you just need a mental break from running. Constantly thinking about running and anything revolved around running can easily lead to mental burnout, which will leave you in that rut. Finding the right balance in life in extremely important, and it will almost certainly help you escape this predicament.
Make sure you set goals which are dynamic and which allow you to change or adapt them as you go along. They can’t be so narrow that they leave you feeling like a failure if you do not reach specific benchmarks by certain times – by allowing them to be dynamic, you’ll avoid the knock-on effect of failure after failure. In fact, goal setting can include multiple variations of a benchmark to reach by a certain date, allowing you to even better understand your current progress and adapt both training and recovery accordingly.
Mix up your running program. A lot of runners will tend to keep to the same route and it is then easy to understand how you could get bored and hit a plateau. Mix it up and add speed-work, tempo runs, and long runs to make it interesting and you’ll certainly get better gains from that type of training too. Read this feature on high-intensity interval training for running – and you will reap the benefits.
Schedule some time off. Even when you’ve reached a new peak, never mind a plateau, by allowing yourself some time off, your body and mind will react well to it, and after you get back into the swing of things you can start eyeing out new goals with that fresh body and mind. Scheduling two breaks, anywhere from a week to three or even four weeks in a year, is a good preventative idea.
Get picky with races you want to do throughout a year and make sure they won’t burn you out. It’s easy to plateau if you’ve over-committed to events that your body just can’t cope with yet. When it does come to races, pull back a bit on your training a week out from the race to allow your body enough rest so you can give it a good go on race day. In fact, start incorporating active recovery into your training programme for that period.
By using some of the advice we’ve covered you’ll sooner break through a running plateau and start seeing those awesome gains again. Importantly, understand that plateaus are common and almost everyone will hit this in their running career; so make sure you know possible reasons why and start making the right moves to get out of that rut…