Running forever but not making any progress? Use these tips to break the plateau.
Believe it or not, there’s more to running than just moving your feet quickly. To run effectively, you have to know the correct way to train, the techniques involved, the right diet to be on, and even the right equipment to own.
1. Follow the 10-per-cent rule
What is the 10-per-cent rule? According to Runner’s World, the 10-per-cent rule “is one of the most important and time-proven principles in running”, and to put it simply, you should only ever increase your weekly maximum distance run by 10 per cent. No more.
The reason behind this is to avoid overtaining and to decrease the likelihood of injuring yourself leading up to your next big race. You may sometimes feel like you can go farther and longer on days when you feel extra energetic, but that’s where the problem lies. If you do too much, your body may not be able to handle the stress of running so much more in a short period of time. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
2. Wear proper shoes
How many of you are wearing shoes that are actually meant for you? Often, we pick the prettiest or most expensive pair, thinking that they’re the best for us. But the importance of finding the right pair of runners can’t be overstated.
Identifying if you overpronate, underpronate, or if you have a neutral stance can make a big difference to the shoes you pick and your running gait. And believe it or not, buying shoes at the right time of the day can make a difference in terms of fit.
3. Vary your distances
Sticking to just one distance all the time won’t be great for your progress. You may be an expert at running 5km, but other aspects of your running may suffer. Add different types of runs like sprints and intervals, and you’ll see your fitness improve.
4. Break the mental block
Your body will often want to give up before your mind does, and there’s science to back that up. Prof Samuele Marcora performed a study on cyclists and found some interesting results with regard to positive stimulus. The cyclists were able to last longer in their workout when they were shown positive messages or images “such as action-related words, including ‘go’ and ‘energy’, or were shown happy faces… compared to those who were shown sad faces or inaction words.”
The next time you’re on the brink of giving up, take yourself to your happy place – that self-motivation may just help push you through that wall.
5. Speed up
The best way to run faster is to run. Faster. It sounds silly but it’s true.
Start by incorporating more interval sprints into your running routine to gradually build up speed. And if you’re already doing so, you may already be reaping the rewards. “For the athlete who’s already doing intervals, upping the intensity with short bursts of speed may provide new benefits,” says Martin Gibala, a McMaster University researcher.
6. Get support
You may like the tranquility of running alone. But running with others can be good for you, too. A study published in Nature Communications found that running with others may often result in going harder and longer compared to running by yourself. They also tend to push each other to do better as a group.
Looks like it’s time to find a running club to join.
7. Train, eat and sleep right
Like any other workout, getting sufficient rest and nutrition is just as important as training. Don’t be afraid to take rest days when needed, and make sure you load up on the right kind of foods to ensure proper recovery and growth.
A version of this article first appeared on www.menshealth.com.sg.