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I would welcome some advice from some more experienced runners as I feel as I feel as though I've hit a bit of a wall.
I am quite new to running- I started around March time this year with the aim of doing a 10k race for life at the start of June.
I did not follow a specified training plan (I hadn't looked too much into things then), but gradually built up my mileage over the weeks. I did this by starting at 1 mile, running the distance 3 times, then increasing by half a mile, doing that 3 times and so on. Each time I was running the same mileage and route, I would try to do it a bit quicker each time, but then go a little steadier when I went up to the next distance, and then increase again. I was running 2-3 times per week so increasing my distances every week or two. The exception was as the RFL was approaching, I was running out of time so I went from 5 miles to 6.2 miles, with the RFL being the 3rd of those. I got a Garmin Forerunner 10 as a gift when I was up around 3 miles, so I can measure my minutes/mile retrospectively, but not live pace.
My first GPS logged run is at the beginning of April. I ran 3 miles at an average pace of 11:22 min/mile, compared with towards the end of May, one of my last "training" runs i did 10k/6.2 miles at an average of 9:31/mile (this may have been actually been quicker as i was stood waiting for 1-2 minutes at a train level crossing and didn't realise I could pause the watch!).
In training, my first 10k took aprrox 59 mins, and the second approx 56-57 mins if you account for the level crossing (see above). Note the second time was a flatter easier route as well. I completed the RFL in approximately 58 mins, though it is hard say what a good representation this is as the 10k runners joined the 5k walkers at the end, making it difficult to pass so the last 1-2 miles were quite slow.
The RFL was mostly off road, and quite hilly (which I didn't know as I couldn't find much info about the course before), and I had not trained for this as I mainly run on roads/canal dirt towpath, and it is very flat and difficult to find hills! Since the RFL I have had a soreness down the inside of my shins. This has not stopped me running but is certainly there and sore to the touch. I did a second 10 k 2 weeks later, doing and easy 3 mile run the following week, a 5 mile run the next weekend, and another 3 miles the week before. I finished this in 59 mins- slower than the RFL and on a better course!. I planning on doing another 10k in 2 weeks. I didn't ideally want to do them so close together but they are very local and conventient to me. I wouldn't say I push myself in the races, just do as I have been in training.
I was a bit "lost" after the RFL having achieved my target distance, and so started a training plan (the bupa intermediate 10k one), to try and improve my time and running overall, though doing the next 10k race as the long weekend run on week 2. The plan mainly consists of 2-3 easy/tempo runs in the week with a long run at the weekend. Doing "easy runs" was a new concept for me and after doing them (11-12 min/mile) I feel I have found it difficult to speed up again, or settle into my normal rhythm I found I had reached, which was approximately 9:30 per mile- if I pushed a little around 9:05, if I eased off a little around 9:45.
Now when I'm running, even for 3 miles, I'm having to push to get under 10 minute miles and I feel sluggish and unable to get into a free moving rhythm easily. Hence I feel like I'm not really progressing, maybe even going backwards! I have recently chnaged trainers, as I found out mine were a junior shoe rather than womens so have less cushioning, (I went to Sweatshop for gait analysis). I have also been bike riding or swimming once a week for the last 2-3 weeks. My overall aims are to enjoy run