How To Break Through A Running Plateau

  • By Bethany Rutledge
  • Published February 11, 2016

Try a new approach to your training to gain an edge in your next race.

Looking to get from T2 to the finish a little quicker this year? Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau, or feel like there’s a missing ingredient in your run training.

When manipulating the basic ingredients, or tenets of training—volume, frequency, intensity and duration—there are literally thousands of combinations you can utilize to change your approach. If your running is stuck in a rut, consider one of these approach tweaks to help you breakout this season.

The Approach: High Frequency

High frequency leads to increased durability, which makes you more resistant to injury and better able to hold pace and form at the end of the race. A triathlete only running a few times per week can reap benefits by gradually increasing to 5–6 runs.

One benefit of upping the frequency of your runs is that it helps you build muscular endurance while allowing you to take some of the emphasis off of very long runs (like those 20-milers before an Ironman). Avoiding the steep recovery cost of lots of super-long weekend runs will allow you to focus on adding in more quality down the road while avoiding injuries.

One potential downside to frequency is the transition time (driving, showering) required by adding in additional workouts, but this can be alleviated by making many of your workouts bricks. Also, you still need to find the balance between quality and quantity. If you’ve fallen into the trap of doing all your workouts hard, then running daily will force you to nix that habit.

How to: Start by dividing your current volume into more runs before adding in additional time. For triathletes running 20-plus miles per week already, increasing frequency can simply mean dividing your current weekly mileage into five or six runs instead of 2–3 runs. This may mean you have a lot of 20–30 minute runs, but the focus is on frequency—the small stuff adds up.

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