Little about me. I'm 28 male and ran in highshool. (Was pretty good a decade ago)
I got back into running about 2 months ago and I'm having a blast. I look forward to my run all day. I had been running pretty hard each run and not doing the slower longer runs. I worked my way up to 4 mile runs in the first month and shaved my time from 45 minutes down to about 38 and change. However my time has not improved and to be honest some days is slower. These times are nothing stellar but I'm in this for the long haul. I'm wanting to train for a year and then start doing some races. I want to be able to actually compete in these races. I read alot about runners just starting out shouldn't really give it everything they have every run. This weekend I went out and bought a Garmin410 with heart rate monitor. Yesterday was my first run with it and I focused on keeping my heart rate down between 150 and 160 for the same 4 mile run at time of 43 minutes (This showed me I was pushing myself well beyond what my actual conditioning level was/) Should I just take a few months and just focus on slower runs and racking up the miles?
All ideals are welcome. Like I said i'm in this for the long haul so I'm willing to do whatever is needed.
I am a 51-year-old runner and can identify with your situation. Like you, I was a solid runner and competitor in high school and college. I continued to compete up until my early 30s, and then "retired" for lack of a better term. Then, about 3 years ago, after a 16-year hiatus from running, I wanted to get back into competition. I have to say it has been a long struggle, filled with many mountains, valleys, and plateaus, which is precisely what you are experiencing.
The only thing I can suggest is to vary your running. Alternate your workouts: easy, difficult, easy, moderately-difficult, all in terms of distance, time, and effort. Most experts also recommend that you take a day off every 7 to 10 days.
I am in the middle of a plateau myself. I was making good progress in terms of my training, running times, and distances, but starting in April I have really leveled off. The good news is I am feeling better, and I am really enjoying myself when I run and when I enter competition. That is the key. Just have a blast and stay healthy. As an experienced runner yourself, you probably now how this sport works. We might feel that our progress has halted, and maybe we are going in reverse, then all of a sudden... BAM... everything comes together where we feel great, and we are able run a PR without too much of an extreme effort. That's when we experience the true thrill of running, and that is what exhilerates us and motivates us. So, keep it going. You WILL have your day... on the course (or track), as it were.
I second what Anaheim said. I ran HS and college and was a HS coach for awhile. Take a page out of the Crossfit handbook and realize that you have to switch up your exercise. If you're not changing this up and challenging your body in new ways, your body becomes as efficient as possible in that one exercise. That's a plateua for you.
Do some speed work. Do some tempos. Do some fartleks. Do some long-slow. You've been doing 4 mile runs? Do at least one long run a week, and one fast run a week. Your body will adapt.
This is the same Joe but my account locked up and it was just easier to create a new one.
What would an example of a good plan be. I see so many options online but many are too basic or meant for elites. Is there not any merit to just running miles at first to get conditioned or am I already past that point for just building a base?
I ran 5 days straight this week sunday through today. Totaling 20 miles. I'm taking the next 2 off. This is also ideal for my scheduling and keeping the wife happy. :-)
If you are serious about getting back into competition, it is going to take more than 20 miles per week.
But for now, forget about the heart rate monitors and your distance.
Focus on your total time running. Given what you have accomplished already, I would recommend running for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. Don't jog too easy, or push the pace too hard. The way to guage your pace is imagine if you were engaged in a conversation while running, and determine how difficult it would be to converse. If you are able to easily talk, you are running too slow. If it is too difficult to hold a conversation, you are running too fast. However, if you are breathing hard but still able to converse, then the pace is probably just right.
On your easy days, just jog nice and easy for thirty minutes, the only difference from your hard workout days is the distance you run. Be sure to stretch a lot before you run, and stretch a little after you run.
After a couple of weeks, on your hard days, you might notice that you are feeling good and want too push the pace a little, or at the end of the 30 minutes, your recovery is quicker than normal. Then, it is time to notch up your running time to 35 minutes. Follow this pattern of increasing your running time by 5 minutes. When you reach 45 minutes of running time (usually 2 to 3 months, if you are consistent with your running), you have a good foundation, and then you can start mixing in speed work and intervals. When you start with interval work, you will be ready for a time trial.