Someone mentioned that they have been running for a year, but aren’t finding their running any easier or faster than when they started. Perhaps you, or someone you know has experienced this. Why might this be?
At first, Easier and faster sound like two opposing objectives. In theory, if you train to a plan to get fitter and faster, effort level will never get any easier, but you should progress. However, if you work on your running form, it should **feel** easier as you become a more efficient runner. Check you have a high cadence, upright posture, straight shoulders and all the aspects that make you at least look like an elite runner 🙂
If you think you are putting good effort into the training, but aren’t getting any faster, what then? For experienced runners of many years, age might be a factor – generally progress slows a lot at ~50. However, for relatively new runners, at should be possible to progress fairly consistently at any age for a good number of years.
The main areas holding many runners back are Consistency, Too Fast and Too Slow.
Consistency is more important that yo-yoing between lots of runs one week and none the next. If you can get 3+ runs in consistently each week you have a good chance of improving.
Too Fast: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most runners run too fast in most of their runs, thinking they have to run faster to get fitter. However, if you run slower, it’s easier on the legs, so you can recover more quickly, do more days a week and thus put in more time on feet each week. You have to do fast sessions each week, but on the easy runs, keep it really easy. Relax. Enjoy the sounds and sights.
Too Slow: On the fast days, if you don’t know how fast to run, there’s a tendency to end up in a middle speed that isn’t fast enough to get the required physiological benefits that the session is intended for, be it intervals, reps, or a tempo. Which makes it tough when coming to a race or parkrun.
If you run 3 days a week, I suggest one easy run, one long easy run and a fast session, apart from complete beginners who should be doing ALL their runs slowly. I wrote an article explaining why slow runs are so good for you. It’s aimed at beginners, but the benefits of the slow runs apply to all abilities from beginner to elite.