I spent 2 years in a regression zone (no PR’s) before I realized I had to figure out a new game plan. What I was doing was NOT working. I was hungry for info & just looked for answers to turn the ship around. I looked for what my training was missing- and then decided to implement new changes, one at a time. If you’re in a similar holding pattern- maybe what worked for me could help you. I would chat with a trusted running mentor and ask for their honest feedback - to see if they see something you don’t see.
Here’s what helped me:
PUTTING RECOVERY AS A TOP PRIORITY
I can’t perform my best if my body is so overwhelmed by my training. Overtraining is just not having the recovery match up to the training. If recovery & training are not in balance- then you dip into overtraining land. And pleaseeee, y’all- let’s avoid this at all costs! Once I realized, I would NOT progress until I started recovering, I was able to put recovery in its proper place & finally recovery & start seeing progress. No one had told me this before. I never heard people talking about the need to recover. All I saw was grinding & mileage. So when I was in the middle of my regression period, I thought- well, maybe I’m not working hard enough & then would work harder. We have the best of intentions- but sometimes that hard work is putting us in a hole- and not on a podium. I had to calm down my efforts to let my fitness actually show. I began prioritizing sleep- overtraining is best remedied by rest! I took my easy runs, mega easy. And I gave my body some time off from workouts to catch up. Then when I started doing speed workouts again, I started with 1 a week and made sure I was recovering before the next session.
RUNNING REALLY FAST
I think there is the thought that we can get faster without really running THAT fast. And for me, that wasn’t really true. I had to start running fast- in order to see improvement. I was so used to doing long, slow marathon workouts- and then was shocked when I wasn’t cutting major time off my marathon. Well, I was doing nothing to lower my threshold. If marathon pace feels fast for me- then I’m probably going to have a tough time holding that on race day. I had to make marathon pace feel like a jog. And the only way I could do that was by actually running FAST. I actually did 8 months of double speed workouts (where 1 mile was the longest interval I did in those 8 months). That was really transformative for my running. I had no clue that I could run fast… until I ran fast. I trained my body to be relaxed at fast paces- so then when I switched over to marathon training- marathon pace felt legitimately slow- because I could run a whole lot faster. If your top speed and marathon pace are too close- then marathon pace will feel a lot harder than it needs to. The goal is to find real speed to make marathon pace feel slow.
Part of getting faster was working on my form & learning a more efficient & effortless way to run. The way I used to run had me working way too hard and actually hampering my forward movement. Through some humbling race videos, I realized we had a MAJOR problem on our hands. I didn’t know that much about running or form. But I knew enough to know that what I was doing out there was basically a disaster. I started with cadence- quicker, shorter steps replaced my long loping stride. Then from there, I worked on a forward lean. Then, I worked on posture & core. Finally, I used my arms in a more relaxed efficient way. I was rebuilding the machine to get max speed out of it. If you have major form issues (like I did!!!) - then working on form is SUCH a transformative way to change your running- without even needing to change your fitness. I’m always looking for ways to pick up gains.
I have absolutely been loving the Under Armour #UAHOVR Infinite. These shoes DO. IT. ALL. They are SO comfortable & cushiony- but also have the kick to them that I need to have if I do speed in a shoe. They’ll go the distance (cover your long run needs) & are also just so comfy for easy runs. I alsoooo love that they actually have a UA’s Record Sensor™ technology - it tracks, analyzes & stores virtually every running metric so you know exactly what you need to do to get better- you just download the Map My Run app and it actually has all of the run metrics uploaded to it. Technology, man! Pretty amazing! These are so great running in hot & humid Hawaii- super breathable and comfortable! They have been my go-to’s for a bit and I’ve been so impressed with how versatile, cushiony & supportive they are!