There may come the point in a runner’s life where he feels he cannot improve his speed or run fast. This phase is called a plateau.
Hit a Plateau
The runners who run regularly or constantly for many months face this stage called Plateau, where runners cannot improve their speed or increase their mileage. At such times the runners get frustrated, stagnated, and run slow consistently.
Some of the reasons behind this could be your training or the weather or the lifestyle you lead. There are many types of lifestyle issues and poor training habits which can slow down your speed.
Due to this, you do not stay healthy, or you do not get faster. Maybe you are a new runner, or you are vulnerable to getting injured always. So you are hesitant to increase your speed.
This also depends on the type of training you are taking and the type of person you are. Hitting a Plateau is the stagnant period while training. When you hit the Plateau, do not step back.
Instead, try to figure out the reasons affecting your performance or speed and work towards getting them behind you. Try to overcome your hurdles and improve your running.
The Following are some of the common reasons which could be slowing you down
Not taking enough rest or getting proper sleep
The amount of sleep varies from person to person. An adult should sleep at least 7 to 8 hours every day. Ensure you get undisturbed quality sleep by evaluating your mood, energy level, and food cravings each time.
Sleep helps your body to recover and repair. If you are not taking proper rest or getting quality sleep, your body will not heal well. Lack of sleep will affect your training, and eventually, your running.
Elite runners run at least twice in a day and sleep for more than 8 hours, and in addition to it, they try to take midday naps.
A siesta may not be possible for all. So you can try and get at least 8 hours of quality sleep. Remember, you need to relax more to run faster.
Too much stress
Reduce stress by making a schedule that works with your life. Plan your races and training in such a way that suits your current schedule.
If you have too much stress in your life, your body will not adjust to your training. Your body cannot deal with both physical and mental stress at a time.
To perform well, you have to remove that extra stress during your racing or training.
Not paying attention to your diet, eat proper Nutrients and carbohydrates, proper hydration
Focus on your intake of food. Add to your diet more vegetables and fruits and avoid junk food, processed food, and sweets. Have a more real and whole-food diet.
Ensure you have a full meal as it is common knowledge that under-eating is like over-training – both are harmful. Include proper amounts of vitamins, calcium, protein, carbs, good fat, etc., which will help you run better.
For high-intensity activity, carbohydrates and good fat work as a fuel. Protein helps you to build strong muscles and prevent muscle loss. Calcium strengthens your bones and helps to repair after your hard run.
You need to drink a proper amount of water before, during, and after your run. Staying hydrated always is essential.
The Iron levels are low
Blood and muscles get oxygen through Iron, which powers them up. If your iron level goes down, you feel exhausted, sluggish, and tired. This declines your running performance.
Iron helps in red blood cell production, which carries the blood molecule called hemoglobin. When red blood cells production stops, it reduces hemoglobin production.
It is the hemoglobin that transfers oxygen around your body. Hence reduced Iron levels can also be one of the reasons you have slowed down.
One of the hurdles which decline your speed is bad weather. Weather affects your performance, whether it is cold, hot, or rainy. If it is too hot, you cannot run fast.
In the same way, in extreme cold, you cannot increase your speed. Though running in winter is as complicated as running in the summer, running during heavy rains is difficult.
It slows down your speed. Instead of worrying, you should focus on your effort more than speed and distance during these extreme weather conditions.
Skipping Long Runs
Long runs are vital. The long-run is the most crucial run or the training of the week. It builds your endurance and improves your ability to recover, and your speed increases with long runs.
Suppose you skip your long run, your fitness declines, and your speed decreases. Long runs help you to get over the hurdle of running slow. One long run every week is essential to improve your speed.
Not tried speed variety
If you run at the same pace every time, you will not be able to run fast. If your pace is consistent, it will have a reverse effect on your speed. You have to vary your training into different speed levels to get faster.
Different types of runs activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which will help you to gain speed. There are slow or easy runs, moderate runs, hard or fast runs, tempo runs, and difficult interval training.
Interval training contains low and high-intensity training, which helps you build endurance and speed. This depends on the type of race you are training for.
To improve your running or speed, you have to change your speed and distance every day according to the levels of easy, moderate, and fast runs. Besides, you should also vary your running surfaces every week.
Try to run on trails and softer surfaces instead of running on a hard surface every day. You could follow the following pattern to improve your speed:
- At least two times a week, keep easy running, or short-distance runs at a slow speed.
- Once or twice a week, keep fartlek running (fartleks helps you build up endurance and speed) or hill repeats.
- Run strides or high intensity fast runs once or twice a week.
- Cardio or strength training once a week
- One day in a week, keep the long run.
Low mileage or not running enough
If you run less or your mileage is down, you will run slowly. Be consistent with your weekly runs throughout your training. Do not skip your runs. You will sustain in running if you run regularly.
You have to run more to get faster. It would be best to run more days in a week, i.e., at least 5 to 6 days a week. You will lose your focus and motivation with inconsistency in the running.
This will result in slowing down. You can run more if you are training smartly. Follow your quality training schedule to keep up your pace and mileage.
If you run too much
As much as running on a regular basis is essential, rest days are equally important. Rest days help your muscles to recover and repair. With rest, your muscles get stronger.
If you do not take proper rest, you will end up over-trained with overused muscles that do not have the time to recover or repair. This ultimately slows down your speed.
If you do not have proper Running Form
One more point that can affect your running speed is your running form. Pay attention to your running form. The wrong way of running makes you uncomfortable while running as well as it causes you injury.
Proper running form is the key to run at any speed. While running, you should focus on your body moving in sync – back, shoulder, and belly, and even proper breathing.
When you are running fast, proper breathing is essential. To get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles, put to use both your nose and mouth while breathing in and out.
Try belly breathing while running and fill your diaphragm with air on each inhale and not your chest. You should always have an acceptable form while running to improve your speed.
When you do only Running
Only running affects your speed. You have to do a little bit of strength training along with your running, as only running puts pressure on your joints and bones.
Strength training protects your joints and bones. Strength training improves your running and keeps you injury-free. According to studies, Core strength training maintains your running speed.
Two to three sessions of strength training increase your speed. With only running, you do not get stronger and faster. You build lean muscle mass through strength training, which helps with your form, posture, and running speed.
The above are points that affect your speed. In order to increase the speed, it is essential to take appropriate steps. However, do not try to change too many things at one go.
Make changes that are sustainable and simple. With dedication and hard work, the results will be positive and encouraging.