A blog by runners. For runners.

Why am I not getting faster? 5 reasons

5-reasons-you're-not-getting-fasterI remember when I first started racing. At first my goal was just to finish. But after I had a few races under my belt, I started caring about my times.

That’s because with each race, minutes were coming off the clock. For the first year or so of my racing career, I came away from every race with a shiny new PR. Until one day, when my luck ran out.

I couldn’t figure it out. Why wasn’t I getting faster?

Well, now I know what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t training any differently. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Or something like that.

Here are some reasons that may be holding you back from setting new personal records:

1. You’re not doing speedwork. To race faster, you have to run faster during training. Choose a training plan that calls for regular interval and tempo runs. These speed workouts are key to helping you become a faster runner. They’ll help your body learn what a certain pace feels like so you’ll be able to hold it come race day.

2. Your workouts don’t progress throughout a round of training. Your pace goals should get faster and your distances should get longer as you get closer to your race. Let’s say you’re following a 16-week marathon training plan. During the first few weeks, your tempo workout may be 5 miles with 3 miles at an 8:45 minute/ mile pace. The last few tempo runs, though, may call for 8 miles with 6 miles at an 8:30 minute/mile. As you gain speed and endurance, your training plan should progress with you.

3. You’re not getting enough rest. Rest is critical for muscles to rebuild. Taking some time off is good for mental health, too.

  • Fully recover between speedwork intervals. Likewise, really run easy on “easy” days so your body can fully recover from hard workouts.
  • Take enough days off from running every week. Some people can comfortably run six days per week while others max out at four.
  • Make sure your training plan allots for cutback weeks. Every month or so, a good training plan will have you run an easy week consisting of lower mileage and slower paces.
  • Take time off between races. Everyone can benefit from an off-season.

4. You’re not fueling properly. If you don’t eat enough, you’ll literally be running on empty. You’ll lack the energy needed to hit goal paces and you’ll get fatigued faster. Drink plenty of water and take in an adequate number of calories before, during, and after runs.

5. You only run. There’s a lot of benefits that come along with cross-training, and if you don’t do it regularly, you’re missing out. Cross-training can improve your efficiency, strength, and power and it increases the amount of time you’re able to train before your body breaks down. A weight room, on a yoga mat, or in the pool may be the road to your next PR.

Written by Jen Matz.