Plateaued/going backwards!

Hi all,

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


  • My overall aims are to enjoy running, and for now better my 10k time hopefully down to around 55-56 mins. One of my main problems is that I find it difficult to push myself in a race as I'm worried about not finishing if I push too hard, hence I have done my fastest 10k in training! Also I'm very confused about interval training, hill training, tempo runs etc. I know I will need to build up my mileage beyond 6 miles to make the 6 miles seem easier. Should I be resting more and easing back on the 10ks? And if so, I'm worried about having to start all over again from scratch.

    Apologies for the lengthy post but I've tried to give as much info as possible!

    I welcome any advice that will help be improve and enjoy running a bit more as I feel as if I've hit a bit of a wall.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Don't worry about the next 10K in two weeks. There isn't enough time to train to change your time significantly for that one, so just go and enjoy it image. Then, after that you can change your training a bit to aim for a faster time. Maybe don't enter another race for another couple of months so that you will have time for your training to have effect.

    From what you have said it sounds like you may have overtrained a bit, perhaps running so many 10Ks, even if not at race pace has tired you out, you are now paying the price- your body is knackered so has switched to a slower pace and you feel sluggish etc. I would take a longer rest, let your shins recover and then start on a new training plan.

    Quite often with training it is a few steps forward and then one or two back. The clever thing that comes with experience is recognizing when to rest/pull back from training and when to push yourself.

    Then, when you do I would do as you said two shorter runs of 3-6 miles (nearer 3 to start with) and then one long run of 5-7 miles, building to 8 miles when you are ready. On the shorter runs once you are back running well (got your rhythm back), you can start to play with the pace. Doing some fartlek when you mix the pace up is fun and interesting and easier on your body, or you can just try upping your pace for some or all of the run. I quite often run out slowish on these runs then up the pace as I run back. Add some hills if you can, even if they are small ones as this is good for your strength and prepares you for those undulating courses.



  • Thanks for your reply, that is very good advice. I meant to say I was not aiming to improve my time in 2 weeks, that is more a long term aim. I only really entered it because it's local, and like you say I hope I'll just enjoy it on the day really. I considered that I may be overtraining but felt I hadn't been running enough to overtrain! (Though I guess everything is relative and I'm still getting into it really). 

    I'm ready for the fact there will be tough times but thought it would be good to get advice if I'm going wrong! I'll certainly try to add hills like you say even the little ones will help. I'll rest a while after the next 10k and then follow the training plan properly, and hopefully do another later in the year.

  • Read up on training. Most of your runs should be at an easy pace with maybe just one fast run per week. I think you've tired yourself out.

    Rest for a week or two and then try training properly.
  • Yes this is definitely the way I intend to go, thanks!

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