Do something different to get past a plateau

Runners are known for being goal-setters. I started running 4 years ago with the goals of fitness and weight maintenance. I was soon hooked, and I wanted to run further and faster, and to enter events – I didn’t want to miss out on the fun that my fellow Gunnies were having!
However, my 5km time had plateaued. Pushing myself had sometimes tipped me into the injury zone, so that tactic was not working for me. Mixing with a community of goal-setting, go-getting runners, this frustrated me. I was still getting a lot of pleasure from running and from the Gunnies community, but I really wanted to be able to compete in a 10km event.

Set a goal to do things differently
So in 2018 I set myself the goal to ‘put more science into my running’.
The first part was easy and fun – choosing and buying a sports watch (don’t you love how spending money on a new piece of equipment or clothing kick-starts your motivation!)
The second part was understanding that I needed to build strength, both to run faster and to avoid injury.

Get advice from experts
I attended a session on ‘building strength for running’, presented by physio Trang Nguyen. Trang talked us through the muscle groups used in running, the most common injuries, and taught us exercises to strengthen those muscle groups. Some of these I already knew but some were new to me – for example, she had us isolating muscles in our feet and activating them (not easy!) and I learnt to pay more attention to ankle exercises. Trang’s blog can be found here.
I also bought an online book from Max Workouts, which teaches exercise regimens that work the full body and really get you breathing hard. For the next 2-3 months, I spent less time on running and more time on exercising.

Enjoy the benefits!
And it made a difference! My previous best 5km time had been set over 3 years ago, and I bettered it three times during April and May, knocking about a minute off it. My times stopped improving when I tapered off the exercises, but the benefit remained in that I was able to complete 4 events of 10km or more during the year – something I don’t think I would have been able to do without injury in previous years. I’ve now graduated from calling myself ‘a 5km runner’!
Your path will be different to mine, but my message is, if you want to get past a plateau, do some research into what might make a difference and try it.
Next month: Why we keep paying big dollars to enter events

Posted in Training & health.