Push Through The Plateau04 March, 2012 0 comments
Have you stopped reaping results in races or on the roads and trails recently? We explain why it’s best to keep your body guessing
There's nothing better than the feeling of getting fitter, faster and stronger, and there's nothing worse than the dreaded ‘plateau’. When progress levels off and you find yourself running hard but going nowhere fast, you can be left feeling de-motivated and disinterested in your training. “It’s common to have plateaus and see little or no change in performance,” reassures personal trainer Dan Roberts. ‘This only lasts a week for most of us and the trick is to deal with the situation properly.” With that in mind, here’s how to pass by your next workout plateau and get some fire back in your tank…
Take time out
If you’ve been clocking up the miles for weeks and aren’t seeing an increase in your speed or endurance, you may need to take some time off. Rest is just as important as training in the total running equation. “If your times are decreasing and you’re getting a bit emotional or have niggling injuries, you need to rest,” insists Dan. “Take a week off and do nothing. Then, after a few days, reassess your weekly and monthly training.”
Find something fresh
To progress and bust through a plateau, you may need to exercise a different set of muscles to rejuvenate over-worked ones and come back mentally stronger. “Do some cross training by trying a different sport for a couple of weeks,” agrees Dan. “Sometimes all the body needs is a change rather than a break, so aim to exercise at the same intensity but, rather than running, do it cycling, weight training, rowing or even power-walking.”
Beat the boredom
If you find yourself lacking enthusiasm for running, be honest with yourself – are your training routes and methods a little bit dull? “Often plateaus are caused simply because we keep doing the same things and forget the first rule of training – progression,” adds Dan. “Every session you do should be harder than or different to the last one as your body is constantly adapting to your workouts.”
Fix your form
If you really can’t motivate yourself to go for a run, why not work on improving your running style? “Take time off from your normal training to focus on not getting injured,” says Dan. “Do corrective exercises for two-weeks and sort out any muscular imbalances such as tight back muscles, non-activating gluteal muscles or sore calves.” Having a one-off functional movement session with your local physio or conditioning coach is also a great alternative to training. Prevention is the key to consistent training and speedier sessions in the long-run.
Mix and match
A plateau-resistant running routine is one which consists of a variety of sessions at a range of intensities. Sometimes a plateau occurs because your mind and muscles have become accustomed to your training plan, so varying your running sessions is the only way to keep training effectively. “Periodise the intensity of your training sessions,” suggests Dan. “For every three workouts, do one quite hard, one crazy hard and one easy. The key is to keep your body guessing at all times!”
Dan Roberts is a personal trainer. Visit www.danrobertstraining.com for further information or follow @DanRobertsPT on twitter for free training tips.