After you have ran for a while it is common to end up feeling stuck. Maybe you have done 20 5ks and never broke 21 or even 30 minutes or maybe you have been trying to get to where you can just run 3.1 miles without walking. This is a common complaint from runners. The big plateau! You hit was seems like your ceiling and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to go to the next level.
I initially started running in 2012 and my goal was to run a 5K and lose weight. Well, mostly lose weight but I talked about that on an earlier post. I started running pretty regular and I did some training runs that I was pretty happy with the over all time. What drove me crazy was that I could never run the entire 3.1 without walking. I had my time down to a personal record of just over 24 minutes for a 5K and I was still walking during the race. Not for very long, and I would walk fast, but my mind and/or body told me to walk at least some. That never went away. I eventually quit running for a couple years until early this year. I started out with lots of walking and a little running. I eventually got it to where it was almost all running. On runs of over 3 miles though there was always some walking. It absolutely drove me crazy. I had signed up for a half marathon and still was unable to run 3.1 miles without walking. I was even up to the point where I could run 6 or 7 miles, but there was definitely walking.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with walking during a 5k or a longer run. It is encourage by many experts including the world famous Jeff Galloway. He teaches/trains runners at all levels and distances and his method is a run/walk method. So I am not saying its a bad thing to walk. I am saying I had a goal to not walk and was failing miserably at reaching it.
One Sunday my brother-in-law said we needed to go do some speed work and that would help my times and endurance. I agreed even though I had sort of attempted speed work outs previously with no success. We went to the track at B. Michael Caudill Middle School and ran 400m and 800m repeats. This means that you run either 400m or 800m at a fast pace and then walk for a little while and then do it again. 400m is one time around the track and 800m is 2 times.
Having a goal line to reach was the difference for me. The first 400m I ran pretty fast and at the last turn my legs felt done. With the finish line in site I pushed a little bit more and then died at the finish line. To recover I walked all the way around the track (yeah I was dead). Then did the exact same thing again. This time I was even farther from the finish line and wanted to stop, but I could see the line and pushed until I got there. 800m repeats are way harder. You could even say twice as hard smile emoticon I managed to push each time though to the end of the run. I’m sure I slowed down some, but I wanted to stop and I didn’t.
It was an amazing thing, the next time I went out for a longer run my legs got tired and I kept running. My body had learned what it felt like to run with tired legs. It wasn’t easy, but my body remembered those 800’s and that my legs would recover and I could keep going. My training took off at that point. I had some longs runs that I had to walk after that (really hot weather kills me). For the most part I would slow down some when I wanted to walk, but I kept jogging. When I got to my first half marathon I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t going to be mad if I walked during that 13.1 miles, but I really didn’t want to. The training paid off and I was able to run the entire race and actually got faster each mile. The last mile of the race was more than a minute and a half faster than the first mile.
The training worked and I got through the plateau and now I have new mountains to climb. Try speed workouts if you are looking to go to another level. If you want to know more about speed workouts just ask on here. I know there are lots of people willing to help.