The Running Plateau

Running is an excellent way of increasing your cardiovascular (aerobic and anaerobic fitness) as well as burning fat, increasing muscle tone and definition and improving your mobility. It is also incredibly easy to reach a plateau, get bored, lose interest or injure yourself (repetitive strain injury is fairly common in runners).

Many of us begin lengthy and strenuous running routines which eventually peter out and become boring, result in injuries or simply take far too long out of your day. I’ve got some incredible news for you; it doesn’t have to be this way. Running can be varied, challenging, fun and exciting all at the same time. By mixing up the styles of your run, the distances, speeds, intervals, methods and times, you can really make the most out of the most simple, yet one of the most effective forms of exercise.

The Running Plateau – Timed Runs:

Rather than using distance as your measuring stick, try running for a set period of time, either at a track, school field, around the block or on a treadmill. Timed running is extremely effective for pushing your distance achievements because it forces you to run as far as possible in that distance. Time/Effort/Distance can be linked together to add a new facet to your running skills. A good example of this would be to try 20 minutes running at roughly 75-100% effort. Alternatively 40 minutes running at 50-75% effort.

The Running Plateau – Distance Runs:

The regular form of running is probably one of the most over used forms of running. You’re better off reducing these runs as much as possible and mixing in some of the other choices. Distances runs are a great way of measuring progress, but don’t need to saturate your routine.

The Running Plateau – Speed Runs:

Speed runs are an excellent way of improving speed, anaerobic fitness and dynamism. You set yourself a specific speed to match for as long as you are capable and you continue going until you are incapable of matching that speed any longer. A good example would be to set yourself 7:30-8:00 minutes per mile on average. If you stray outside this you immediately stop.

The Running Plateau – Intervals:

Whether you run your intervals as distance or time, working with 100% effort in mind for short periods of times is extremely effective at burning fat, increasing fitness and improving speed and dynamism. Set yourself a target number of intervals, and complete them irrelevant of how slow you end up going. A good example would be to run in 30 second and 1 minute intervals with 30 seconds ran at top speed and 1 minute at a gentle jog, for 10-15 sets.

The Running Plateau – Sprints:

Although not hugely different to intervals training, sprint training varies in that you are giving 100% effort for a set distance, and then next to no effort until you return to the start point. Better to be completed at a track, 100 or 200 metre sprints are a fantastic challenge for your body that will increase your metabolism, burn fat, boost muscular recruitment and help you lose weight. Try 5 x 100m and 5 x 200m. Walk to the starting point after completing each repetition.

Here is a great example of a weeks worth of running that will work for anybody for a good 4 week period before requiring change.

  • Monday: 30 minutes continuous running at 60-90% effort with a rough distance of 3.5 miles in mind.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles slow, steady jog at a comfortable pace to raise your heart rate but remain achievable.
  • Wednesday: Sprint Training – 5 x 50 metres, 5 x 100 metres, 2 x 200m, 800m jog to cool down.
  • Thursday: Interval Training for a distance, 0.5 miles fast, 0.5 miles slow. Varying between 80% effort and 40% effort.
  • Friday: 20 minutes as fast as you can possible run for the full time, followed by the equivalent distance at a walk.
  • Saturday: Speed run, set yourself a target 15 seconds per mile faster and slower than your average for 30 minutes if possible. Stop as soon as you fail to match speed.
  • Sunday: REST.

The great thing about running is that there is almost limitless opportunity for variety and new challenges. Whatever your goals are, you can adapt your training to help you meet those goals.

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