Millennium Running Club – Spring Session Training Tip 7

Avoiding Performance Plateaus:

Have your racing times failed to improve during the past year?  Have your training paces and effort been the same during your daily runs or workouts over the past several months?  If your answer is “Yes” to either of these questions, perhaps you have hit a training plateau.  Sometimes overtraining can lead to plateaus or even slower performance times.  However, more often than not, these plateaus occur because we have been training in our “COMFORT ZONES” for too long.  This article will focus on avoiding that comfort zone and will introduce training that promotes improvement in running performance.  What do we need to do?

Challenge ourselves!  Weekly, we need to provide a training stimulus that is greater than what we are used to doing.  We call this an “OVERLOAD.”  Of course, we need to combine an overload with the correct amount of “REST OR RECOVERY” in order to avoid injuries.  But rest or recovery does NOT necessarily mean that we do nothing.  It is perfectly fine to feel some fatigue heading into the next day of training.  Perhaps the following day is a shorter, slower run, or we cross train with some cycling or swimming.  Providing an overload in training once in a while with lots of rest or downtime between the overloads will not be effective.  The overload needs to be “CONSISTENT” and “PROGRESSIVE” in order for our bodies to adapt and improve our fitness.  There you have it…avoid training in the COMFORT ZONE for a lengthy period of time, provide an OVERLOAD at least one training day per week, combine this with an appropriate amount of RECOVERY (active rest), and be CONSISTENT by doing this type of training for several weeks (12 to 16).  Oh yes…don’t forget to be PROGRESSIVE when performing the overload from week to week.  Examples of a progression are adding an extra hill or track repetition weekly, adding more time to each repetition (45 second hill instead of a 30 second hill or a 400 meter lap in place of the 200 meter lap, etc.), adding 1 to 2 miles to your weekly long run, or increasing the number of days run per week from 3 to 4, or 4 to 5.

In closing, the overload is provided by making changes in one of the components in the F-I-T Formula.  By making changes in either the Frequency (how often), Intensity (how hard), or Time (how long), it will have an impact on the overload.  And don’t forget…a decrease in either of these components will decrease your fitness level…in just 21 days!  Let’s face it.  Challenging ourselves is tough work.  It hurts physically and mentally when we provide an overload to our bodies.  It takes about 21 to 28 days for our bodies to respond and adapt to that overload.  But once we have adapted to the overload, we will see improvements in our race times.  And once that happens, “Guess what?”  We will need to apply a greater overload.  I love the Challenge!


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