1. Focus On Rest & Recovery
Yup, I said the evil word. Rest. Even writing it was hard for a Type-A personality such as myself. However, the most common reason runners struggle to get themselves out of their slump is lack of proper recovery. Usually, it’s lack of proper recovery that started them on a downward spiral in the first place. Naturally, when runners start to have a bad bout of training or suffer through a series of races, they begin to train harder believing that it is a lack of fitness holding them back. Unfortunately, this solution is like putting yourself in a hole and then digging faster and faster in an attempt to get out.
To help illustrate this point, I’ll use an analogy. I like to visualize the body like a sponge, and training like the water coming from a faucet. At the start of training, the body is like a dry sponge ready to absorb all the training (water) that it can handle. So, you open up the faucet and let the training flow into the sponge. Over time, if you keep filling up the sponge with water, it won’t be able to absorb any more. This saturation point is often the start of a running slump.
What you can do:
Take a few extra rest days, maybe even schedule an entire down week, and focus on recovery. Going back to the sponge analogy; a few rest days or a down week is like squeezing the sponge into a bucket. The bucket in this case represents the store of fitness you want to have available on race day to throw at your competition. After ringing out the sponge you can get back to training fresh. Yes, it seems backward that taking a few extra days rest or adding a few super easy training days could actually make you fitter, but it’s true.