I have been running fo a couple years now but I am not getting any faster. My Bay to Breakers
12k run I finished at 1:24:03, I want to be faster than that. Is there such thing
as a running plateu? If there is how doI beat it?
Add some speedwork to one run per week. Speedwork comes in several varieties, outlined below. Intervals are good for leg turnover and oxygen utilization. Strides are also good for turnover, but you can do them on a day when you would otherwise not do any speedwork. Tempo runs teach you to run at a fairly hard pace for several miles. Fartlek and hill repeats are like intervals but not as "organized".
- Intervals: This is the "4x400", etc, said four by four hundred. That means doing four repeats of four hundred meters (1/4 mile) at a fast pace. Warmup for a mile or so. Do the first fast "repeat" of 400 meters, followed by a slow recovery "interval" (where the name comes from) of about the same time as the repeat. So if the repeat takes 2:15 (minutes:seconds), so should the recovery. Do this three more times for a total of four (thus 4x400). All of the repeats are preferably done in the same time or possibly getting slightly faster (a second or two) as you go along. Intervals are best done on a track, or on a precisely measured course, the flatter the better.
- Hill repeats are something like intervals, except you run up a hill (150 to 300 meters) for the hard part, then down easy for recovery, repeat.
- Tempo Runs: Warm up for a mile or so. Do a specified distance (or time) at "tempo" pace (I'll get to that). Cool down for a mile or so. The tempo distance/time is usually a minimum of 2 miles or 20 minutes, and it goes up from there. To some extent it depends on what you're training for: shorter for short races, longer for long races. Tempo pace (also called "lactate threshold" pace) is a fast (race level fast) pace you can hold for about an hour. So a 10-mile race pace is frequently used (1/2 marathon pace for faster runners). The pace can be figured from other length races (5K or 10K for instance). The McMillan Running Calculator can figure paces for these workouts based on a recent race time. I find the paces tend to be a little fast. http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/mcmillanrunningcalculator.htm
- Fartlek: Also known as speedplay. This is "pickups" of varying distance during an otherwise regular training run. Warmup for the first mile. Pick up the pace to some arbitrary point down the road, a telephone pole, side street, sign, etc. Slow to your normal pace for a while, then do another pickup. The number and distance are up to you.
- Strides - Strides are short, quick accelerations usually done at the end of a regular training run. They are fast but not sprints, 50 to 100 strides/steps (counting both feet), typically repeated 4 to 10 times, with an equal slow recovery after each. Concentrate on form and running smoothly. Accelerate for 10-15 steps at the beginning, run the middle part at a quick pace, decelerate for 10 or 15 steps.
- Speedwork, hill repeats and long runs are generally considered "hard" workouts. Avoid doing hard workouts on consecutive days. Always take a rest/recovery/cross-training day in between.
lenzlaw said it perfectly. Speedwork is the way to go, but the only thing I would add is that given your current mile pace (11:16 if I am doing the math right) I think you need to focus on one or two basic speed workouts and avoid trying to get too fancy. My suggestion is speedwork once a week, and alternate between intervals one week and a tempo run the next week. For intervals, hit a local track and try to crank out some 2:30 laps to start and see how it feels. If you don't have a track nearby you can do fartleks, but using a track is really nice because you can time your pace exactly, and the lack of obstacles and distractions is really helpful, and safer.
Of course, it's possible your lack of improvement has other causes. If you are overtraining and getting burned out, that would prevent your speed from improving. Consider comparing what you are doing to some training plans online (Runners World) and see if you might be doing too much or too little.
I was in the same situation as you and tried some speed work. I think what I did Len described in his post. I used a treadmil and after warming up to my normal pace, I increased the speed .3 to .4 mph for one minute. After the minute, I increased it again .3 to .4 for a minute. I made these increases 5 times and at the end of the 5th minute, I turned the speed back down to my normal pace for a 2 minute recovery. After the recovery, I do it all over again. I would do this a total of 4 times. You should be at the "just about puking" stage on the last minute of each interval, thats how you know you are going fast enough.
Last year I ran my favorite 5k at a 7:48 mm pace and this year, after doing the speed intervals, I got it down to 7:27 mm! So I can vouch for Lenz recomendation and say that it really works. Good luck!
Spring Dash 2009 5 mile 38.52
Spring Dash 2010 5 mile 37:17
Race the River Sprint Triathlon 2009 1:17:34
Race the River Sprint Triathlon 2010 1:14:25
Bloomsday 12k 1:02
Spokane half marathon 1:48
CDA half marathon 1:57
Windermere marathon 4:50
Open heart surgery to replace defective aortic valve 2/9/11
Spring Dash 2011 5 mile--volunteered
Practice winning...or you'll never be any good at it.....
I didn't want to brag but I guess I should have mentioned that 6 months of speedwork took 1:45/mile off my best half-marathon pace. Completely blew the lid off my performance limits. Don't be discouraged if you don't get quite the same results -- everyone is different -- but speedwork will definitely create some improvement if you are patient and keep at it. Hit that track and by all means please post back here and tell everyone how it is going -- I'm rooting for ya!
Tempo Running is often misunderstood and the variety of ways in which it is defined can confuse the average runner and triathlete into using tempo run training incorrectly and therefore not gain the great advantages this type of training can provide. The tempo run is most often associated with marathon pace or the half marathon pace. It’s recommended that your tempo run be fractionalized so as not to push the body so that it’s knocked out for too many days. The pace is important but taking scheduled breaks means you still get the neuro-physiological benefit. http://triathlonresearch.org/using-tempo-run-training-workouts-to-gain-running-speed/
In the context of training for a longer race, such as 12k or half-mary, I consider a monthly 5k race part of my speedwork. Of course, I run them at a slower pace than my 1/4 mile repeats at the track, but they do give me the opportunity to push the envelope. I think they help, becuase I P.R.'d in every monthly race I ran for the 1st 18 months of running. Only after my first marathon did I slow down.
I can't emphasize enough the importance of massage therapy and foam roller use at home. The former is heaven, the latter is hell, but they both work to move the lactic acid out.