Reached a plateau?

As the title suggests, I can't seem to move forward with my speed. I'm actually feeling quite down about it now, and it's taking the enjoyment out of my runs. I run often with my lovely mate who's an ex-elite runner, and I ran with her tonight-she's great but I feel so bad that I hold her up so much and never improve. I don't want to be *really* fast, like quite a lot of you. I just want to actually progress, which I don't seem to have done for the last year. I've got a 10k next week, my PB is 1.01 and I want sub- one hour- which seemed very reasonable.. but I just can't get there :0( I'm very fixed on a HM I'm doing in October- and I want to aim to do it in just over 2 hours (PB 2.11)... ATM it just seems impossible. I'm stuck in a 10 minute mile rut :0(
I'm running 4 times a week- 3 runs at anything between 3.5 to 5 miles, then a longer run on a Saturday of between 8 or 10 miles. All of those runs are stuck in a 10 minute mile rut....pretty much bang-on... NO progress. Oh and I do wonder if the fact I've put on a few pounds is a factor-- I am still probably within healthy BMI (don't have scales but am just about a size 10) but would feel more comfortable if I lost maybe half a stone to be a "better" size 10... is this a factor?
Any tips very welcome, TIA


  • Hi Nessie,

    Plateauing is a common problem. It can feel worrying if it goes on for a while, but there is usually a way through.

    Have you tried any interval training or fartlek, and if so, what specifically? This gets most people moving again in terms of out of a plateau, but really the key is often simply to change a few things in order to make that next step up. It may be a bit late for next week's 10k image, but there's plenty of time to improve for an october HM. If you can answer the above about intervals/fartlek, I'll happily be a bit more specific about what it might be worth trying next, if someone else doesn't get in first! But don't despair!!!

    p.s. Afraid to say that a few extra pounds can affect times, but again that's not a worry, I find when I restart HM training in earnest, they usually drop off image

  • Hi Nessie,

    If I was you pick a target race, which I think the HM you mention is far enough into the future and use one of the training plans to attain it.

    Training for a 10k is different for a HM and different again for a full marathon as the endurance element increases and the speed decreases.

    You may find some HM schedules incorporate a 5/10k tune up race near the end of the schedule and only then measure your improvement.

    It would be no good doing a marathon schedule to target a 10k race and vice versa, so patience is needed to build that level of fitness up through a structure will come eventually may take over 12 - 18 months to really get some speed in.

  • Nessie - You've got the best source of advice you could wish for right in your grasp. Why not spend the time you're out on your runs questioning your mate on her training tactics? Not many people have an ex-elite to go out running with....
  • Nessie73Nessie73 ✭✭✭
    @Parkrunfan- she says it's all about the strides- apparently my strides are very short. Other than that, she is a really old-school runner and an absolute natural- she's going to be 60 next year and when she was an elite in her 20s she found she could just run- no water, no nutrition, no fartleks etc.... she's just a natural-- prior to her first marathon she'd only ever run about 16 miles and she completed in well under three hours...
    having said all of that, I shall quiz her again tomorrow when we run-- If i can keep up and catch my breath enough!
    @Juggler- I have done intervals on the treadmill in the past and they have helped my pace. i hate the treadmill though, especailly in this weather. I would really like to learn how to do them outside as I struggle with the timing / pace outside- no technology I'm afraid...
  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    You're basically running 4 times a week at close to your 10k pace including your run of 8 to 10 miles. No wonder you've plateau'd. That's what happens when you race 4 times a week as your only running.

    Get some proper training paces and stick to them before you end up hating running forever.
  • I was in the same position a while back (but wasn't overly worried) I then joined my local club and only run with them once a week, but what a difference it has made.

    My 1ok time went from 56 mins to 51 mins and my half marathon time from just over 2 hrs to 1.51 (was a flat one)

    I just needed more structure and advice.

    Good luck

  • Moraghan wrote (see)
    Get some proper training paces and stick to them before you end up hating running forever.
    Something like this will help: The Runner's World one
  • Nessie73Nessie73 ✭✭✭
    Thanks, the training pace thingy is helpful.  How do I get those paces without a garmin or similar?
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    You don't really need to know exact pace - go by effort (in my opinion)

    Easy - can hold a conversation pretty easily

    Tempo - can get a few words out together but it's not easy

    Hard - can gasp the odd word

    VO2Max - oh sh!t, I'm going to be sick..........


  • I would suggest running with someone faster than you, as you obviously do is the way to go forward - you can add in all the speed sessions etc, but your running partner could actually drag you along faster than you would normally run - BUT I also think you do need to slow it down too as someone else said you are pretty much racing each time you go out - you need to run faster in some runs and slower in others, perhaps you are training yourself to run at one pace - vary it, and I would have thought, you are in an ideal position, running with a former elite runner, who must be a mind of information and tips.

    good luck

  • Nessie73 wrote (see)
    How do I get those paces without a garmin or similar?

    As Nessie says, going by perceived effort is one way. You could also just time runs where you already know the distance, and experiment with different paces - after a while you get used to the 'feel of a pace. Heart rate monitors will also give you a good idea of effort, and are cheaper than Garmins. Training zones for heart rate are available on the web, but it all depends on working out your working heart rate, which can be a bit tricky.

    If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting a Garmin. You can get a 205 or 305 for well under £100 these days if you shop around a bit. As well as providing useful pace and distance information, the main benefit for me was I stopped sticking to the same routes (whose distance I knew). I could just run anywhere, on and off road, following my nose and enjoying myself. A relaxed run with some good views is a good way of encouraging yourself to slow down a bit.

  • ^^agreed on the garmin, once i got mine my pace went from 9:30 per mile to 8:10 per mile in a month as i was monitoring my pace a lot better and reacted as soon as it dropped,

    HOWEVER.. my distances dropped too, and whilst my 5, and 10k times are well down, i had to physically slow myself back down again to do half marathon distances again. and on race day push a little harder, i found very soon that increasing my pace so much meant i was burning out a lot sooner.

    in the 6 months ive had my Garmin my HM time went from 2:07 to 1:47

    my 10k from 00:56 to 00:49 and my 5k from 00:24 to 00:19.31

    they are great for finding your pace zones, ive worked out my ultimate fuel levels etc, so looking at my pace and distance i can gauge how much i have left in me, i can determine race pace from training pace,

    i'm 100% more aware of my body's fuel and fatigue levels. this alone has helped me train differently and better and in 6 months i personally have got fitter, faster and better at running, than i had the previous 2 years without one.
  • Nessie73Nessie73 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for great advice- it really helps.
    I went for a run with my friend tonight and was quizzing her about speed. She agrees that fartlek is the way forward- her lo-tech version is going fast, medium, slow randomly using trees as markers on the trail route through Epping Forest that we run... she looks at me like I'm crazy if I mention a HRM or a Garmin. And is appalled that I listen to music when running alone. Quite refreshing really. She was also showing me how to lengthen my stride, which I think will help LOADS- although it feels odd and like I'm using muscles in a completely different way. I can see how eventually I will feel like I'm running at the same pace but am actually covering more distance. It will take some practice and we're going out again tomorrow. Dull for her I reckon but great for me :0)
    @Doug Hughes and Marc- yes I'd LoVE a garmin, but can't afford one. It's my bday coming up next month though and I've been dropping loads of hints to hubby-- so will keep up the pressure ;0)
    I'm already feeling a little more positive... now I have a plan...
  • haha do it, with the newer range out you can have them so cheap now, i paid £85 for my 305 with heart rate strap.
  • If a GPS is expensive, then get a cheap Heart Rate Monitor. I got one shortly after I started running, and found it made a HUGE difference. It made me run much slower... which in turn meant that I could run faster too. It sounds odd, but it works.

    Basicly, I found that I was doing all of my running too fast. The HRM made me slow down for longer runs, but also work harder on shorter, faster runs. Worth getting a boot too. The Compleat Idiots Guide to HRM has been worth its weight in gold for me. It isn't highly technical, so makes it easy to follow the science behind what you are doing and what you are trying to achieve.

  • Nessie73Nessie73 ✭✭✭
    *update*- I did my 10 k last night with a stinking cold and still managed a PB of 58 min 30 seconds-- which is around a 9.2 minute mile and a PB. Well pleased :0) I don't know if it was the super-flat course, the race day excitement, or my training paying off but I achieved my goal.
    I have been using my runs with my ex-elite friend as tempo runs, and after reading the advice on this thread and looking at my (approximate) speeds and times, that that's what I'd probably been doing anyway for some time. I average between 9 and 9.7 minute mile when I run with her, with a slower warm up and slow down bit. If I run on my own, and for longer runs, I have been trying to keep to my usual 10 minute mile or thereabouts. The idea of a different training pace and racing pace is a revelation to me! I've also been consciously working on lengthening my strides, although I don't find that easy at all and for last night's race I just ran without thinking about my technique. The longer strides are not showing any benefits yet. Next stage is a garmin or similar and trying the fartlek.
    Thanks for the advice, it is helping massively and I've got a bit of a spring in my (running) step again :0)
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