Running Rut?

by Jay
(New Zealand)

Hey there, I seem to be in running rut, where I haven't seen much improvement for a while now, i.e. more than 6 months). I run around 80kms a week, and go for a good long run on the weekends.

I just had a race last week, a half marathon and felt like I couldn't hold the pace, I started out quick but fell off after about 6-7kms thinking I had gone out way to quick, and was disappointed with my time for the amount of training I had done.

My training has most building blocks, i.e. varied, so I am unsure what to do. Does this sound common? How do I improve my speed endurance?

Thanks for any tips..............

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Jay,

Thanks for your question about your running rut. I think everyone, from time to time, will have this periods that they feel like they are not improving, or are going backwards. I know I am!

You do good mileage. Although I can't evaluate your running program, it sounds like you are doing training at all the different speeds.

First of all you need to work out whether this was just a bad race or really a sign of standing still.

A bad race can have many different reasons. You need to evaluate your performance of the day and think back. How did you sleep, did you eat well before the race, what was your taper like, did you just go out way too fast and did that backfire?

One important, often ignored, part of running training is goal pace running. Whenever you are preparing for a key race, it is advisable to include a number of goal pace sessions in your training, close to race date. For a half marathon the double-six, i.e. six miles easy, six miles goal pace is a good session.

These goal pace sessions help you understand what your current ability is and can help stop you from going out too fast.

Another idea is to have a good hard look at your training. When you start hitting higher mileage, then you run the risk of no longer taking a real hard/easy approach, because you want to cover sufficient mileage every day.

Your hard runs might have been too easy and your easy runs might have been too hard. Sometimes you might actually do better at somewhat lower mileage, just in order to make sure that you can hit it hard when you are doing your speed work.

I would suggest that you don't panic just yet. Pick a new key race and start training for it. It does not need too be the same distance.

A good approach to this kind of issue, is that if you feel like you are not getting the improvement you need for the half marathon, it may help to focus on a shorter distance for now, i.e. 5k/10k.

You can capitalize on that higher mileage with some good speed work and set a personal best for those shorter distances.

Then after that you can use that speed work and intensity to your advantage when you take on the half marathon again.

Hope this helps.
Wishing you best of luck.
Kind regards,

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