It’s frustrating when you hit a rough point in your running. Whether that is an absence of PRs in your past couple of races or your legs don’t feel like they did a few months back. The bottom line is we all hit ruts as runners but it’s how we deal with them that builds character and teaches us how to prevent them (or deal with them) in the future.
When it comes to approaching rough times in your running, remember the four R’s:
- Review. Review your training log. Are you training too much? Not enough? If you have recently started increasing your mileage that might be the culprit. One piece of advice that a coach gave me was to “either increase your mileage or increase the intensity. Both together are a recipe for disaster.” Also review your sleep patterns; getting too little sleep doesn’t allow for your body to properly recover for the next run. Look at what you eat on race-day, has that caused GI distress or a sluggish body due to improper fuel?
- Relax: If the cause for your rough patch is too much running (AKA over-training) then maybe it is time to tone it down for a bit. I know more than anyone how hard it is to take more than one rest day but sometimes 2-3 days is what the body needs. You won’t detrain after 2 days. It’s an appropriate amount of time to let your body take a break and recover.
- Just Run: Ditch the watch and rekindle your love for running. Think about why you love it: what gives you joy, how does it make you feel? Sometimes just going out and running, not worrying about pace can help you regain some confidence and relax.
- Routine: Often during Cross-Country or any running season you can fall off the wagon a little bit and lose routine during the week. Whether you stop doing the cool-down or don’t put as much effort into workouts, it’s time to get back into a routine. Write a plan for the week with a main goal in mind. Examples of this could be: “I want to get 9 hours of sleep every night,” “I want to commit to rolling every night,” or even “I want every run this week to be under 8 min. pace.” Once you get back into the “swing of things” it is a lot easier to see improvement.
I know how easy it is to get discouraged when you aren’t seeing the improvement that you have been working so hard to get. I can relate right now because I haven’t PR’d this season or broken 20 minutes yet in the 5k for trail courses (my goal for the season is to break 19). Nevertheless I am getting back to routine and focusing on my goals, and hopefully at the two races these next four days I will reach my goal. Ruts don’t last forever and just remember that your love for running will outlast any rough patch!
Comment below when you break through your own personal barrier: