Monday, August 25, 2008

Reaching a Plateau

The past couple of weeks, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. A lot of thinking. Since my first marathon in October 2006, I have basically moved from training plan to training plan with the hope of some day qualifying to run Boston. While I still believe this may be a possibility, I am beginning to believe that I need to make a change.

In March of 2007, I met with a personal trainer to discuss the possibilities of working with him to meet my performance goals. After a rather lengthy discussion and a few brief talks with the Masters swim coach, I opted not to use this trainer. If you are interested in reading my post following that discussion, you can find it at Ultra-Conservative or Right On?

One of the things that the personal trainer said to me was, "... training for a marathon is a 2-3 year process. Runners should train to train to train... before they begin the intense 18+ week cycle. Otherwise, they risk hitting a plateau and not seeing continual improvement over time."
I'm beginning to see evidence of this. Training just hasn't been as much fun anymore. Specifically running. If I must run on the treadmill or with the kids in the jogger, you can almost bet it won't happen.

Reflecting back on my training for the Circle the Bay earlier this month, 2 of the 7 weeks prior to the race, I ran only twice. Never did I run more than 3 times a week. Another point the trainer had made was, "If you want to be a better runner, you must simply run. Cross-training is not necessary.... If swimming makes you feel better here (pointing to his head), then great, go for it. But it is basically recovery (Zone 1)." In retrospect, my training was mediocre. I didn't push myself. Without counting my swimming distances, my average was only 23 weekly miles. Yikes!

Going into the Circle the Bay, I had told myself that if I hit my pace goal of 8:34 min miles, than I would register for Portland '08. It is a hilly course. There was no one to challenge me. Arguably (or perhaps not), due to poor training as well, I didn't reach my goal. My pace averaged 8:56. Over the past year, my races have been pretty consistent.

CIM Dec '07 - 3:57
Circle the Bay '07 - 2:44:11
Eugene May '08 - 3:55:25
Circle the Bay '08 - 2:46:25

I haven't had the same desire to train. I find myself compelled to walk during a training run more than I have in the past. It is evident that I have hit a plateau.

Earlier this month, I tried calling another personal trainer - one recommended by the guys at FleetFeet, but he hasn't returned my call. It has been a couple of weeks, I should call again. But then a part of me says take it easy. Catch up on scrapbooking (I'm further behind than I ever have been - having not scrapbooked earnestly since August of '07). Enjoy running for the sake of running rather than chasing a time goal? Look into swimming competitively?

We'll see.


  1. I'm not sure what to think about that whole "cross training" thing. I don't think I'd choose that trainer for me.

    There are things you can continue to work on to be a better runner. Nutrition. Core strength. Even swimming to help build your cario vascular system.

    Keep working it sista! :-)

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  3. Makita,

    I feel your pain in your words. I've been where you are at a lot.

    I have prayed for you today. May God give you direction. When He does, you will have a peace about your decision.

    Whatever you decide, I know you will keep pressing toward the finish line.


  4. If you have a Boston qualifier in your legs, go for it! I've run for more than 30 years and have hit the occasional plateau or two, but NOTHING will ever compare with that feeling of finally qualifying for Boston!

    I really don't think a particular training program or trainer is all-important. Most runners can improve a lot just by running more (and more consistently); improving nutrition (which for many should mean weight loss) and by improving their core muscle strength.

    Just my 02 cents...


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