Many experienced, regular runners find that the more they run, the slower they get. As contradictory as it seems, this slackening pace may be due to running too much. If you’ve been faced with the frustration of watching your times increasing when they should be decreasing, and you know it’s not because of age, injury, or skipping sessions, keep reading.
This article explores 5 reasons running more can make you slower and suggests ways to correct what you’ve been doing wrong.
1. Flatlining On A Plateau
If all you do is run the same route, you’re doing yourself a disservice. All you’re doing is working the same muscles in the same way, and you may have arrived at a performance plateau. Your muscles have become so used to your routine, and your training has become ineffective.
Get off the performance plateau by introducing other elements to your program, such as flexibility, strength, balance, plyometrics. This can strengthen your muscles, and it offers some protection against injuries. A good way to include other elements is to dedicate one or two days of week as strength days. Instead of running, focus on compound movements (deadlifts, lunges, and squats), full-body training, and core strength.
2. Running On The Wrong Fuel
Whether you run for fitness, fun, or to compete professionally, not eating properly slows you down. A good diet is essential, and it’s not only about what you eat, but when you eat.
Eat carbohydrates for an energy burst, and protein to build muscle. Protein can help your body repair damage to your muscles. The foods you eat should provide a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals to replace those you lose when you sweat. Along with providing your body with the correct fuel, you should keep it hydrated.
Drink enough water during the day.
Timing is important for a runner’s diet, so if you plan to go running after work, don’t eat too much at lunch. If you run in the morning, eat a balanced meal the evening before.
3. Lacking The Drive To Improve
Your slowing pace may be because of a lack of desire to improve. If running is something you do by rote, your performance won’t get better until you find the desire and willpower to push yourself further.
Other than checking how long you take to cover a certain distance, you can measure your progress by the way you feel during and after running. Your training zone, heart rate, and recovery rate after running are other good indicators of an improvement in your performance.
If you’re serious about bettering yourself as a runner, change your route or alternate between routes, set targets for splits, or add inclines or more distance to your current route.
4. Pushing Too Hard
Doing the opposite of not pushing yourself hard enough can also slow you down. Running too hard, too fast, and too frequently doesn’t give your body a chance to rest, repair minor damage, and to recover from the exertion. If you’re pushing yourself seven days a week, you risk becoming slower because your body is heading toward a breakdown.
A better approach is to dedicate time to mobility, stretch and strength training instead of running, and to take one or two days off from exercising every week. This helps you care for your muscles, gives your body a chance to rest, and ultimately improve your running speed.
5. Wearing The Wrong Shoes
Your deteriorating performance could result from wearing the wrong shoes. Not every running shoe is a perfect fit for your foot type, nor is every shoe a good match for your style of running.
Other shoe-related factors to consider include not having worn in a new pair of running shoes, or wearing a pair that’s old, damaged, and in need of retirement. Choose shoes in good condition that fit your feet comfortably and suit your running style.
If you’re struggling with your performance as a runner, consider the five reasons mentioned above. If slowing down is due to one of them, it’s something you can change - and this means you can improve.