The dreaded plateau. It’s that all too common experience when you find yourself hitting brick walls in your training, unable to progress past a certain running speed or fitness level. It’s your body’s way of telling you that your current training regime has gotten you as far as it can and it’s time to change things up.
Don’t think of it as a bad thing, but a natural obstacle in any running journey and it’s entirely up to you where you go from there. Some are perfectly happy to remain at a certain comfort level, ticking the miles over each week as part of their routine, while others strive to push the boundaries. If you’re part of the latter, here are some strategies to help you kick your plateau to the curb.
Change your route
A change of scenery can do wonders for your motivation and help you to up the ante on your training regime. If you’re used to running a flat route, try a circuit with a few hills to get the heart rate up, or if you’ve only ever run in an urban setting, then why not give trail running a try.
If you’ve got something to work towards you’ll find new meaning in your training and gain a sense of achievement as you get closer and closer to reaching your goal. Consider signing up to a running race, one of our virtual runs, or get in touch with a coach to help you set some realistic goals. Keep a track of your progress and reward yourself once you accomplish what you set out to.
The key to kicking a plateau is to step up your training, running smarter, not necessarily harder – whether by intensity, duration or frequency. Consider what it is you want to achieve and how much time you can realistically dedicate towards your training. It could be adding another run to your weekly schedule, increasing your pace and maintaining a higher heart rate, or simply running further. Think about adding some intervals or fartlek runs if you want to work harder, these will help to increase your aerobic capacity.
Give your body a day off from running and swap it for a strength session, gym class, cycle or swim. It might not seem like it but varying the style of training can help you to make big improvements out on the road or track.
Sometimes a plateau can also be a sign that you need to ease up and have a bit of R&R. Consider adding a rest day and pairing back your training for a few days to give your body a chance to recalibrate. Make sure you get plenty of sleep as this is prime repair and recovery time.
We’re always interested in hearing about your running journey, so if you’ve got any tips to share about how you overcame a plateau please feel free to drop us a line or reach out on Facebook.