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Times keep getting slower...what to do next?

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  • 03-06-2019 8:50am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 3


    Hi all,
    I would really appreciate some advice on this and I hope I am posting this in the right place!

    So as the title suggests I'm having an issue that every race I have ran in the last year has progressively gotten slower-

    For a bit of background, my PB in my first marathon in 2017 was 3.51, the following year I ran 3.55 and last month I managed 4.05. The problem has started since my 3.55 finish and every race I have done regardless of distance has been getting slower.

    This year while in training for the marathon I reverted to my training plan from 2017 thinking that might be the issue but that didn't work either!

    I have signed up for Dublin and really want to improve on my times but I'm at a loss as to what to do next?!
    This might not be helped either in that I will be away for the next two months so my long runs might be more limited but I'll be hoping to have facilities for cross training and shorter runs too! So realistically I'm hoping that my current fitness after the last marathon remains with me somewhat so I can start the serious training in the beginning of August!

    So sorry for the long winded post... basically I am wondering has anybody any experience of slowing down like this and what I can do to improve it, especially with the Dublin marathon in mind?

    Thanks for any help ye might be able to offer :)


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 atlanticr


    Could you give some more details? I.e. age, gender, weight, and the training programs you did for each of the attempts, including mileage per week, etc. Without that there's very little to say as each of those variables might have an impact on any advice. It does appear that using the same training program last month as 2017 you ran slower which is a little unusual, but not that strange. All of the times you've posted are in and around the same area, so there isn't massive variation that couldn't be explained by small details.


  • Registered Users Posts: 54,929 ✭✭✭✭walshb


    Would need more specifics...

    Weight(s), ages, health at time of races, injuries, training plans, race courses.....??

    Sometimes one marathon can take so much from the body, that you never get that back. And then thinking you will better it just doesn’t happen.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 Jessica Running


    Thank you both for getting back to me!

    I'm 32 now, so my first race I was 29, I'm female and weigh between 7 and half stone for the most part (throughout the year maybe after holidays/ Christmas I would put on a few pounds :) ) to just under 8 stone at most. I'm 5ft 1 too if that makes a difference!

    During this training I clocked a mileage of average 60k per week and max 72k, I did my long runs once a week and did two 32k and one 34k. Only did speed training once a week though, in total out running 4 to 5 times a week. Throughout April and May I did a workout dvd with weights (30 day shred by Jillian Michaels) too.

    I feel that I was pretty healthy for each of the races, thankfully injury free and training seemed to be going well I thought!

    Maybe it is just not being able to better my marathon time, but even recent half races have gone against me, for example pb in Clon for half in 2017 was 1.44 and then Waterford 2018 1.55!

    I might just be being ridiculous and over thinking really because as you said there isn't too much of a time difference, think it's just I have been feeling disappointed about it and trying to figure out what I have been doing wrong!


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,020 ✭✭✭Kellygirl


    Were you following a particular plan? I had a similar story last year after a PB in DCM 2017 and getting slower then last year. I followed Hal Higdon and there just wasn’t enough marathon pace miles on tired legs I felt. I was doing the mileage that others were doing but when I took a step back and compared, others were doing loads of really easy runs, speed work and then long runs with MP miles or some sort of Progression runs where as I was doing long plods and one speed session as week but that was never on tired legs really so not of much benefit for marathon distance.

    Assuming there are no other issues such as health etc maybe it’s down to picking the right training plan?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    What kind of speed training do you do?
    What is the pace of your easy runs?
    What is the pace of your long runs?

    The most likely reason behind the lack of improvement is poor structure and inappropriate pace. Your 3:51 debut was terrific and the likelihood is, with proper training, you will get even better.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3 atlanticr


    Thanks for the added detail - on the good side of things your age and weight aren't going against you at all. Your mileage isn't particularly bad so it is a bit strange that you didn't improve between attempts. As the above said it would also be useful to know what kind of pace you were doing for your training runs. Do you think there could be a mental aspect to it, i.e. not pushing yourself as hard as before, etc.? Did you feel less motivated for the more recent marathons? How long were you doing the training for before each race and had you much of a base before beginning each training period?

    Regardless, it seems like doing the same thing again isn't likely to lead to much better times so you'll probably have to shake up training a bit. It might mean keeping the same mileage and running your easy runs at a faster pace (or slower) or trying to increase mileage again with a different program.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 Jessica Running


    Kellygirl that's the plan I was following so that's really interesting to hear! And now that you mention it that's very true about running on tired legs, or the lack of it really!


    In terms of my speed training (once a week) I was doing 5k to 8k, depending on the week and doing pace of 4.30 min per km
    Easy runs pace was 5.10 min per km
    And my long runs were 5.30 per km
    Could this be the reason perhaps? As in I'm pacing myself wrong?



    I think as you mention too maybe there is a mental aspect, especially in my last race when I think back, so I'll definitely have to beat my head next time too :)

    In terms of training I took three weeks in December off after the Waterford half, started training in the middlle of January again and then only did one other race before the marathon (Cobh 10 mile)

    Thank you all for the advice you have given already,
    With what I have mentioned is there any plan/ book you could recommend for me? Hoping to improve by Dublin marathon, but as I mentioned I will be away for the rest of June and July so longer runs might be difficult,(area I'm going to is quite rural and possibly unsafe to run alone as a female) but will be giving it 110% once I'm back!
    Thanks again!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,181 ✭✭✭healy1835


    In terms of my speed training (once a week) I was doing 5k to 8k, depending on the week and doing pace of 4.30 min per km
    Easy runs pace was 5.10 min per km
    And my long runs were 5.30 per km
    Could this be the reason perhaps? As in I'm pacing myself wrong?

    ^^^^This....
    Your LR's were basically all at your MP which is a recipe for disaster. If you ran 3:55 and did all your LR's at that pace then fair play for getting to the start line in one piece :)

    Easy runs are also way too fast. There's a lot of runners who would run at least an hour faster than your marathon PB that would run easy runs at 5:10/km.

    There's a Boards Graduates marathon plan as far I'm aware, for people to follow on from their Novice marathon. That might be worth a look.


  • Registered Users Posts: 473 ✭✭robinwing


    Did you do your last long run too close to the race day ? did you taper down enough ? there are many who don't back off enough before the race day . rest is recovery and is more beneficial than training in the last weeks


  • Registered Users Posts: 473 ✭✭robinwing


    a lot of light women don't realise the hammering the legs and body take in a full marathon and even being very light it sucks the speed out of you in the last 1/3 of the race. Most women wear shoes that don't absorb enough shock. there is a very light shoe that doesn't have these faults https://www.runningwarehouse.eu/HOKA_ONE_ONE_Clifton_5/descpage-HOCL5W2-EN.html


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,292 ✭✭✭ariana`


    OP your easy and LR paces stand out as being very much on the quick side as already pointed out. You can enter a recent race time into a pace calculator (e.g.. McMillan or Runfastcoach) and it will give you the pace you should be doing different types of runs at.

    Best of luck :-)


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    healy1835 wrote: »
    In terms of my speed training (once a week) I was doing 5k to 8k, depending on the week and doing pace of 4.30 min per km
    Easy runs pace was 5.10 min per km
    And my long runs were 5.30 per km
    Could this be the reason perhaps? As in I'm pacing myself wrong?

    ^^^^This....
    Your LR's were basically all at your MP which is a recipe for disaster. If you ran 3:55 and did all your LR's at that pace then fair play for getting to the start line in one piece :)

    Easy runs are also way too fast. There's a lot of runners who would run at least an hour faster than your marathon PB that would run easy runs at 5:10/km.

    There's a Boards Graduates marathon plan as far I'm aware, for people to follow on from their Novice marathon. That might be worth a look.

    To add to this - my own marathon time is around 3:20 (4:44/k). I do easy runs around 5:15-5:45. Check out those calculators and dial in to the suggested paces. You’ll likely be amazed at the results.

    Best of luck with it all.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 atlanticr


    If you check out the VDOT calculator (google it as boards.ie isn't letting me post links) it gives suggestions for easy pace. For a 3:55 marathon it suggests easy paces a little over 6:10, and if you were targeting a marathon time of 3:45, the easy paces are still slower than your runs. That doesn't mean you're definitely wrong to run them a bit faster. Those paces are calculated based presumably on high mileage plans. The above poster is right that some 2:50 marathoners may do their easy runs at 5:10 / km, but they are also potentially running >150k/week, so their easy mileage at 5:10 could be more than your entire mileage, never mind the additional tempo runs etc. So if you're running a much lower mileage plan you can probably afford to run a little quicker.

    If you are looking for a new plan you could try one of Pfitzinger's, he's a well regarded running trainer with good programs. His marathon training book is excellent and is suitable for any runner from intermediate to very advanced. He has a few different plans to cater to different levels of mileage. You could try the lowest level one which peaks at 55 miles/week I think. It's a handy plan as you can calculate the target pace for each session so it leaves most of the guesswork out. Send me a PM if you have trouble sourcing a copy of his book as I can help.

    Disclaimer - I haven't personally tried Pfitzinger's marathon plans, although I have read the book and every aspect is explained very well, and I am currently following one of his 5k training plans and it's going well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,556 ✭✭✭blackwhite


    Thank you both for getting back to me!

    I'm 32 now, so my first race I was 29, I'm female and weigh between 7 and half stone for the most part (throughout the year maybe after holidays/ Christmas I would put on a few pounds :) ) to just under 8 stone at most. I'm 5ft 1 too if that makes a difference!

    During this training I clocked a mileage of average 60k per week and max 72k, I did my long runs once a week and did two 32k and one 34k. Only did speed training once a week though, in total out running 4 to 5 times a week. Throughout April and May I did a workout dvd with weights (30 day shred by Jillian Michaels) too.

    I feel that I was pretty healthy for each of the races, thankfully injury free and training seemed to be going well I thought!

    Maybe it is just not being able to better my marathon time, but even recent half races have gone against me, for example pb in Clon for half in 2017 was 1.44 and then Waterford 2018 1.55!

    I might just be being ridiculous and over thinking really because as you said there isn't too much of a time difference, think it's just I have been feeling disappointed about it and trying to figure out what I have been doing wrong!

    The temperatures for the Waterford Half in 2018 were over 30 degrees - that would have impacted your time no doubt!


  • Registered Users Posts: 187 ✭✭Hedgehoggy


    Just wondering how you've been feeling mentally in these races. I think sometimes when you're starting out you don't know what to expect so you're not held back by any fears. Maybe you've been putting too much pressure on yourself during races??


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    For most of us though it goes in the other direction. More experience, more running, more training adaptation - long period of sometimes dramatic improvement for 6 or 7 years before the inevitable plateau. If youre going backwards from a good start there’s something badly wrong. In this case already identified - running too hard on easy and long runs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,859 ✭✭✭✭Zebra3


    Would defo recommend Pfitzinger (and Douglas) book.

    Been following their up to 90km plans for last two marathons and my Pb went from 3:29 to 3:17 to 3:09.

    Will be following their up to 115 plan for my next marathon.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 106 ✭✭Fusitive


    First step is always medical. Get all blood tests done, I agree with the lads on the paces and you should definitely heed their advice and in still it into your training but something still smells off to me here beyond training and I think getting some blood tests done wouldn't hurt either.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,135 ✭✭✭rom


    Fusitive wrote: »
    First step is always medical. Get all blood tests done, I agree with the lads on the paces and you should definitely heed their advice and in still it into your training but something still smells off to me here beyond training and I think getting some blood tests done wouldn't hurt either.

    Sorry but applying Occam's razor to this OP is training too fast. Have been in the exact same place as them training a lot. Ran a 5k 6 months apart 23:10 both times. Very frustrating. Then trained correctly and ran 19:10 a year later. Run much faster since. I do find only 1 of of 10 people hear the advise to train their easy runs slower and take that advise.

    Think of it this way. If you were studying to become a certain profession and someone who had years of experience, came from the exact same spot you were in and achieved what you wanted gave you advise why would you ignore it. It would be madness but somehow in running (as this same question is asked a lot) do people ignore it so often ? This is not targeted at the OP but people in general.

    You even have elites making the same mistakes.

    https://www.letsrun.com/news/2006/09/wejo-speaks-why-i-sucked-in-college/

    "The point is now I don’t really care about the pace. I’m not trying to run “slow” by any means, but I have no concerns that I am going too slow."

    "THE GOAL OF EVERY INTERVAL OR EVERY WORKOUT IS NOT TO RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN."


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 106 ✭✭Fusitive


    rom wrote: »
    Sorry but applying Occam's razor to this OP is training too fast. Have been in the exact same place as them training a lot. Ran a 5k 6 months apart 23:10 both times. Very frustrating. Then trained correctly and ran 19:10 a year later. Run much faster since. I do find only 1 of of 10 people hear the advise to train their easy runs slower and take that advise.

    Think of it this way. If you were studying to become a certain profession and someone who had years of experience, came from the exact same spot you were in and achieved what you wanted gave you advise why would you ignore it. It would be madness but somehow in running (as this same question is asked a lot) do people ignore it so often ? This is not targeted at the OP but people in general.

    You even have elites making the same mistakes.

    https://www.letsrun.com/news/2006/09/wejo-speaks-why-i-sucked-in-college/

    "The point is now I don’t really care about the pace. I’m not trying to run “slow” by any means, but I have no concerns that I am going too slow."

    "THE GOAL OF EVERY INTERVAL OR EVERY WORKOUT IS NOT TO RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN."

    I'm confused what you are disagreeing with. I said to take the advice of everyone else here on paces but I said to get blood tests too to check it out as something could be wrong there and the totality of the problem being 100% down to pace doesn't make sense either for me.

    It's possible that two things can be combining. Could you explain what the harm is in taking both the pace and blood test advice is?

    A blood test takes a couple of days to get results and can quickly confirm/deny a medical issue like low iron or thyroid and stuff like that which would be common in women who have been training at high intensity. A change in approach like the earlier advice which is also needed will indeed help a lot but might not fully uncover a medical issue if that is also present.

    So while you're occams razor analogy may turn out true, being able to confirm or write off two possible issues early is much more efficient which is much better than lobbing all your money in one basket and seeing what happens.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,433 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D


    It’s a good observation, E, but I think the thrust of the post was that medical - while a possibility- is not usually the first port of call on such a common and easily explained issue. But certainly no harm!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 106 ✭✭Fusitive


    Murph_D wrote: »
    It’s a good observation, E, but I think the thrust of the post was that medical - while a possibility- is not usually the first port of call on such a common and easily explained issue. But certainly no harm!

    It's always the first port of call in my opinion as it is so easily confirmed or denied(literally days). I think we all agree on the pace and that it needs to be dialled back substantially either way to improve. There's just something that doesn't feel right instinctally here to me as well though, I could be talking pure baloney and imagining things but I think it would be worthwhile to get the bloods done just to see as well as taking on the training advice offered earlier.


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