When you first start training, progress comes quickly and easily. It’s fun to feel yourself getting faster, fitter, and stronger with each training session, but after a while progress will start to slow down. When that happens, finding the motivation to carry on can be difficult. The good news is that for most people, the plateau is temporary, and you can see new improvements if you change things up a little. Here are a few tips to help you get past the plateau.
Take a Break
If you’ve been training non-stop for a long time, and have stopped seeing improvements in your speed or endurance, maybe some time off is the answer. Time off is an especially good idea if you’ve suffered an injury, or if you’re going backwards instead of making improvements. Take a week off – spend that time relaxing and stay off the track and out of the gym. When you come back, you should see improvements again.
Change up Your Program
If all you’re doing is running, consider introducing some cross training into your program. Try cycling, lifting weights, swimming, or doing a martial art. Don’t take on too many training sessions per week; over-training can increase your risk of injury. The idea is to give your body something new to enjoy, not run it into the ground.
Give Yourself Something to Train For
Sometimes, it’s not your body that’s the problem, but your mind. If you’re bored, give yourself something to train for. Enter yourself into a short race scheduled for next month, or find a training buddy to compete with. Find something that will put the fire and the passion back into your training sessions.
When was the last time you had your running style looked at? Ask a coach to correct your form. If you don’t have a coach, video yourself and take a good look at the video. Even if you think that your running style is pretty good, you might be surprised at what a video will uncover. You may find that you can shave a lot of time off your laps with just a few simple changes, and you’ll feel better for it too.
Eat More, Eat Better
Endurance athletes and strength athletes put a lot of emphasis on their diets, and with good reason. Even if you’re training for a short race, paying attention to nutrition is a good idea. Your body needs energy to perform well, and it needs the right kinds of macronutrients to ensure that you recover between training sessions. If you’re always tired and find yourself underperforming in your training sessions then a small increase in the number of calories you consume per day may benefit you.
Log Everything Long Term
Everyone has bad days, and we seem to remember our bad performances more readily than our good ones. Keep a training log, and chart your progress long term. This will help you to see the big picture. It may be that you are making progress, but that it’s slow and steady, and hard to spot when you’re only looking at today’s training session compared with last weeks.
You can also try a PowerLung to strengthen your lungs for better running practices.