Why is my Running Training not Working?

why is my running training not working
I am 16 years old and do the following training each week:

45 min run x2
30 min run
50 min intervals
1hr run
bike ride

However my sister runs only twice a week for about 30 and 45 minutes and goes for a walk once a week for about 1hr.
She is two years younger than I am (but taller). However we both recently did the Cooper fitness test and she got the same score as me. She can also run as fast as I can in races.

As I do more training this seems a bit unfair. Can you explain?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your running training question. Yes, I agree, it does seem a bit unfair that your sister is just as fast as you, while you put in more work. Growing up with younger brothers and having a bit of sibling rivalry from time to time, I can imagine it must be pretty annoying!

Let's work out a few reasons of why this might be happening and what to do about it.

1. Natural Ability
2. Physical Growth
3. Training Balance
4. Race Length
5. "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard"

Natural Ability

why is my running training not working
It's important to remember that everyone has their own unique set of talents. It's possible that your sister might just have a natural knack for running.

What does this mean?

Well, there are genetics at play that can enhance one's running capabilities.

Things like having more fast-twitch muscle fibers, a greater lung capacity, or efficient metabolism can help your sister cruise along a bit faster on the track or trail.

Physical Growth

You mention your sister is two years younger, yet taller. At your age, your bodies are both going through significant changes, and it's possible that some of your energy is being used in your growth spurt, which could impact your running performance temporarily.

Her initial growth spurt might be over, leaving her with more energy to dedicate to running. Don’t worry, this is all part of growing up and it's only temporary!

I can definitely remember being very tired around your age as my body was undergoing changes.

Training Balance

why is my running training not working
Another consideration is the type and balance of training. You have a packed schedule. That's great, but depending on how well you recover afterwards, it might leave you a little out of energy.

Especially while growing your exercise could be leaving you a bit more tired and exhausted.

Your sister, with the very limited amount of training she does, would run less of a risk of being exhausted.

Race Length

The types of races you are currently engaging in might also be a factor.

The Cooper test is a 12 minute test in which you aim to run as far as possible. Other races you'd be doing at high school would not exceed the 5k distance.

Assuming your sister is a bit more talented at running (I know, this hurts), she may just get by in shorter race distances.

It is likely that your sister's basic training could suffice for maintaining the necessary pace for such lengths. If you were to compete in longer races, your endurance, built up from more training, would likely give you the upper hand.

"Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn't Work Hard"

why is my running training not working
So, what's next for you? As per the quote, eventually with hard work you will catch up to her. And while it could be fun aiming to outdo your sister, your focus should primarily be on improving yourself.

Your workout schedule is pretty loaded, which is excellent!

A few suggestions I can make, looking at your current schedule:

Replace an easy run with a faster session
I recommend replacing one of the easy runs with a tempo workout. A weekly tempo run, interval workout and long run, padded with a couple of easy runs or some cross-training, provides a very, very solid base.

Variation in intervals
I am not sure what the current 50 minute interval session is like. One thing I'd recommend is variation. One mistake I see young runners make is to focus too much on 400m intervals only. Play with the distance and the variety. Check out the interval running page for more information.

Longer long run
You are selling yourself short with the current length of your long run. When you are able to regularly do 45-50 minute runs, I think you could fairly easily build out that long run to be 75 - 90 minutes long. Slowly and safely increase your weekly mileage. Do this incrementally, allowing your body ample time to adjust. We don't want any injuries. Check out the Increasing Mileage Safely page for more information.

Remember, every person's running journey is unique and different, much like life. So, keep the focus on personal growth, improvement, and most importantly, enjoying the running you do!

Best of luck with your training, buddy. Remember, it's not always about being the fastest, but being the best you can be. You've got this!

Kind regards,

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