Have You Reached Your Plateau?

Each and every workout you do should have a purpose.  Just going out and riding, swimming, or running however you feel won’t always help you achieve your goals.  Too many times a runner might run the same 5 mile course over and over again.  They check their time, and each time they go out they attempt to run it faster, or at least match their previous times.  This can lead to burn out, injury, or cause you to plateau.  Your fitness level has stalled.

The same is true for biking.  If you repeat the same course over and over again, chances are you might actually achieve a personal best on that course, you can repeat it a time, but then there will come a point where your progress will stop and may actually diminish.

In swimming if you repeat the same workout over and over again – yes, the same thing can happen as for the other two sports.

This is similar to pushing against a wall over and over again.  You get bigger arms, but you never can move that wall.

So every workout should have a purpose for you to be able to ‘push that wall’ just a little further each season.

  1.  At least one workout a week should have some form of technique work – whether it’s just thinking about doing something while you run/bike (proprioception drills), or actually doing drills to help perfect your efficiency will be key in helping you achieve the next level.
  2. You should allow yourself to go super slow for each of your disciplines:  Whether you run 2 min per mile slower than your normal pace, ride 2-3 mph slower than your normal easy pace, or just taking your time and doing drills on your swim can also help overall.  You will be not only allowing for recovery from your harder days, but you also learn how to become more aerobic.  Remember, the more you can train your muscles to transport more oxygen, the better off you’ll be when you get faster (hence – base training).
  3. Your speed workouts should also have a purpose.  Just going out and sprinting a workout all the time will get your really good for something really short.  But let’s face it, we’re long distance athletes!  How often are you going to be asked to sprint for one minute in your events?  Maybe at the finish?  But if you haven’t trained your other zones, then there is no way you’ll be able to get to the glycogen in the muscles to sprint if you don’t train the other zones first.  Besides that…you’ve already robbed that much needed sprinting glycogen sometime during your race.  All you’re going to see is the pavement when your rubber legs give way.
    1. Spend time at the upper end of zone 2 for some of the ends of your longer runs/rides/swims
    2. Spend time running a few miles at zone 3 (marathon)
    3. Fartlek using zone 4 (10k/hm) with short rests.
    4. And occasionally do some short 8 second hill sprints on your shorter runs
    5. These are just some samples that you can use for all your sports!
    4.  And then there is the final touch:   Recovery.  Sleep.  Nutrition.  The final three components to great training.  Treat your body as if it was a luxury sports car.  You wouldn’t not put oil in it would you (Recovery)?  You wouldn’t not put gas in the tank, would you (Nutrition)?  And you for sure wouldn’t drive without the required sleep, because if you did you’d end up falling asleep at the wheel.

By training with purpose your body will then perform like a well tuned, engineered athlete that runs on the best fuel in the world.