Why Can’t You Run Faster (or Farther)?

March 18, 2018 • By

Have you been wondering why your running has been stagnant? Why your race times are either not getting better, or possibly even getting worse? I’ve been in this zone for a few years, with a few decent races and a whole heck of a lot of injury. Common thought would be to run less because my body can’t “handle” higher mileage and some people tell me I’m just getting older. My coach actually disagrees. And considering she’s an Olympic qualifier, I will take her advice and encouragement and pass it on to you. 

What’s holding you back?

Let’s talk about some common pitfalls to what is preventing you from succeeding in your pursuit of speed (or distance)!

1. SLEEP. Sleep is when our bodies recover and adapt to the stresses that we put ourselves through during our daily workouts. Most of us don’t give ourselves the adequate 7-8 hours needed (minimum).  If you don’t get enough sleep, your body stays under constant stress.

2. DIET. I play with mine a lot and since I’m not qualifying for the Olympics anytime soon, clearly mine has room for improvement. When you’re not running the times you want, look at your hydration level, protein and carb intake and iron levels and be sure that you are eating enough! Conversely, make sure that you aren’t carrying extra weight that could be holding you down.

3. LIFE. Not sure how else to say this one. But sometimes it just is what it is. Are you a parent? Or a full time student? Do you work? Demands take their toll and very few of us run full time as a career. Because of that, life can sometimes take precedence over training. That doesn’t mean you (or I) don’t love running. It just means that other people and things take priority over it and that’s okay! But your speed and/or goals will take a hit so expect that during busy life times.

4. CONDITIONS. Weather, humidity and elevation are all variable for every run (unless you always run on a treadmill in an air conditioned environment). Did you know that running in triple digit temps and 100% humidity is tougher on the body than running at high altitude? Lucky southerners!!! But the moral here is run by effort more than worry about pace since conditions make a difference!

5. PROPER PLAN.  Would you set out for a trip without a map of how to get there (or map app)? Or do you just enjoy driving aimlessly? Maybe you like running aimlessly, too, but I’m betting not or you wouldn’t be reading this blog post about why you can’t run faster. Do you even know what you’re doing (I don’t mean that meanly)? Do you have a knowledgeable and accredited coach? Planning is imperative! Planning that includes the right balance of weekly mileage, speed work, strength runs (like hills), and long runs in addition to strength training, body maintenance work and crosstraining. What is right for you is clearly not what you’ve been doing. Perhaps it’s more, perhaps it’s less, but for certain, it’s different if you’re reading this and asking yourself the title question. This is where you will be running fast and running far and running appropriate to your end goal as deemed fit by your coach. You’ve heard the term “you have to run fast to run fast,” right? Well, your plan should have that on it!

6. YOU COME BACK FROM INJURY TOO QUICKLY. You know what I mean. I don’t even need to explain. Because your guilty. I’ve done it, too. We come back too soon, too fast, run too far, too soon. It ultimately leads to further injury and/or reinjury and prevents us from hitting our goals.

7. MENTAL STRENGTH. This is in my opinion, the hardest. More than being physically ready to conquer your goals, is your mind set for the task? I just listened to a short 15 minute podcast Friday called Mental Strength for Peak Performance by Gregg Swanson and it addressed this. Whether your goal is running related as I’m talking about in this post or something else (fitness, weight loss or work related) it’s worth giving a listen to. Often times we self sabotage without even knowing it. I feel like I’m a continual work in progress here and if anything is holding me back it’s this.

Are you at a plateau with your training?

What if any of these is the reasons, do you think?

Or is it something I didn’t mention?



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