5 Year Running Plateau – Time For A Change

I have been stuck in a rut for a really long time – 5 years.  1 and half of those were spent fighting off iron deficiency,  but the rest of the time I have been a pretty consistent runner.  Quite frankly, I am sick of it.  The only thing that has kept me going is that I just love to run and even if I were to be stuck at the same speed in races for the rest of my life, I would deal with it because I enjoy just running for the sake of it.

Having said that, I still have goals that are not getting any closer to being achieved because of this plateau that has stuck like glue.  I have tried higher mileage, religiously sticking to the tempo and interval sessions each week and long run.  I have also added in strength training.  I have not gotten very far.  I managed to reduce my road 10k by about 3 seconds this year but that isn’t exactly a great improvement in all these years.

What I will acknowledge though is that I am very strong off road.  Thanks to club mates who have made regular off road running easy to achieve, I have a very strong base to start working from at this point in time.  I love off road running but ultimately my goals lie in achieving some set times in the 5k, 10k and half marathon for the moment.

So what’s my plan of attack.  First of all I have decided to add back in some strength training.  Currently I have started with the Runner 360 workout in the book Build Your Running Body.  I have been adding it in once a week and will start twice a week potentially this week or maybe next.  It is good to know that I have still maintained some of my strength from last time I did body weight workouts.  I am being quite fluid on how I add it in because I do not want to overdo it.  So each time will up how much I can handle.  So far I do 2 rounds, which is absolutely plenty because it is not an easy workout.

Second, I am going to keep my mileage at least around 50-60 a week, which has been achieved the last 3 weeks!  This is quite comfortable for me, so if I happened to have additional time in my life and am not knackered I will certainly add in a few more runs.

Thirdly I have been reading a lot lately on therunzone.com, which bizarrely I have NEVER come across before in all the years it has existed, which is a shame because I have spent a lot of time trying to work out what my problem is when it comes to the not-improving situation.  From what I have gathered from all the knowledge there is that I have been doing my intervals way too fast and my tempos too. 

Essentially been racing in training rather than training in training.  It’s interesting because I never thought I was one of those people.  My intervals are always consistently even paced.  I never go out too fast and can usually finish with a faster last effort.  However, based on the calculator I am doing them in most cases 25-30 seconds faster than my races would suggest my fitness are at.  Essentially I haven’t earned the right to be running my intervals at that pace.  Same problem with my tempos.  So over the last few weeks I have been doing both intervals and tempo runs a lot slower. 

I really like it!  I don’t feel daunted by starting either workout anymore as I know it is going to feel pretty easy to begin with.  I also don’t finish and come home feeling exhausted like I have ran a race and need to take extra rest.  I can get on with my day without feeling lethargic and tired.

My easy runs have been relatively spot on.  I have always enjoyed running very very easy anyway and tend to run with some others too who are slower.  So I will not be changing the paces for these but if I feel like going even slower I will do.

As for a long run, I will always join those doing one at the weekend but will not  doing a long long run every week.  Some weeks I will do 10 miles as my long run and others I will move up to 15/16.  I have a few races which will be around 18 miles or less.  These will be off road muddy and hilly runs so I will do some long runs to accommodate this, however I have quite an endurance base I have built over the year and find I can get away with cutting how many I do down a bit.

So this is my plan.  Slow down intervals and tempo runs and do one of each weekly.  Do a long run from 10 miles and up weekly.  Do lots of easy running in between.  Do the Runner 360 strength workout 1-2 times a week from the book.  Add in 2 sessions a week stretching.

I am pretty flexible for a runner but would like to get a bit more flexible. This is sort of an aside goal but I feel it is also important for running anyhow.

I will also be working on my handstands too.  I want to get back to walking while upside down again! 

So with all that in mind what exactly are my running  goals anyway? Well I would like to start with a sub 40 min 10k (currently 42.05 thisyear and 3 second PB from 5 years ago), sub 20min 5k (currently 20.01 from 5 years ago) and sub 90 min half (currently 95.45 on a hilly course from earlierthis year).  I also would like a muchnicer 5 mile time (currently 33.05).  Ireally enjoy the 5 mile distance so would be nice to get that down too.

My main focus is on the 10k at the moment.  There are not many 5km races this time of year anyway, so I will focus on 10k and 5 miles with a few sprinklings off hard hilly muddy offroad races.

Hopefully this will lead to finally kicking the plateau out the window.

So this was my week

Mon – 7 miles easy

Tues – 6 x 800m followed by 4 x 200m with 1 min recovery between all.  All at CV pace as taken from therunzone calculator.  I was a bit knackered from Sunday (race) but as the pace was ok I knew I could get this done.

Weds –  Easy run plus Runner 360 workout – I did two sets.  I also did some jumps.  2 sets of 5 bo jumps (litterally jumped onto the bed).  2 sets of 5 squat jumps and 2 sets of 5 stepping off a chair and jumping up.

Thurs  – Easy run

Fri – Short easy run

Sat – 5 mile tempo at the long tempo pace from the calculator.  I ended up doing this slightly faster than was prescribed.

Sun – 10 mile easy run

Roughly 50 miles in total.

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