We love it when things go as planned, but in real life, they rarely do. So often, what we have hoped for is not precisely what life puts for us on the table. And this is fine because most likely there’s a reason for it.
When we begin running, we have the idea that we should constantly progress. The same goes for when we train for a long time and aim to see faster results in each race. But getting better in anything needs time. So the line of progress is not a straight one but rather a line that goes up and down constantly to move forward. This means that sometimes you have to take a few steps back to make a big jump.
This metaphor applies to running too.
What are setbacks in the running world?
Setbacks occur when you’ve put in the work, but somehow you feel like you’re not getting better and you’re digging a hole. There is always a reason why you have those, and here we’ll explore them and how to react when they happen.
Setbacks due to overtraining
Going the extra mile is not always going to give you additional benefits. Running too much may cause overtraining and injuries. When you start putting in too many miles, your body will constantly feel tired, and you may begin to really struggle to hit your usual paces. Although we all have days like this and they’re not always related to our training program, if those days happen more often, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how much you run and if this volume is durable with your daily activities.
How to react?
Try to cut some of the volume and/or the intensity you do in your running program. Running easier on your easy days or doing another form of cardio can also be a huge benefit. Sleep more and make sure you’re on top of your nutrition and hydration. If this doesn’t help, maybe it’s an excellent time to take some time off running- like a week or two, where you can do something enjoyable and refreshing for your mind.
Setbacks due to the adaptation
Your body is pretty intelligent. If you start running today and you do a 5k for 30:00 minutes, it might feel pretty hard. This is because you put new stress on your body that’s unknown yet. However, after some time, the same distance and pace will feel much more manageable just because your body has got used to it. Your body has adapted to run at that pace. But in order to start running faster than 30:00 minutes for the 5k, you need to put new stress on your body. This is just how our body works. It needs new challenges to grow.
How to react?
Add something new to your running routine. This may include a new workout, a different challenging pace (meaning you’re running faster than usual), and adding some hills or strength sessions. Or, just play out with your volume a bit. Try one to two things at a time and see how these work for you. Then, see how your body reacts and what results from the change will yield.
Setbacks due to mental fatigue
Running takes a lot from your body, but also a lot from your mind. What runners forget is that mental fatigue often is more challenging than physical fatigue. So a lot of our setbacks are due to some mental barriers. This is why we also have sports psychology experts. If you’re intimidated by a particular workout or distance, you may find yourself struggling to complete them. If you don’t know how to deal with your nerves before a workout or a race, this may influence the results you achieve. Setbacks due to mental fatigue are so usual, but we might not recognize them and how they influence our success.
How to react?
Talk to somebody and ask for help. Take a different approach, or just take a break from running if you feel burnt out. There are so many great books out there that provide knowledge about sports psychology. Try to face your fears, and you’ll see that there’s nothing so scary that you cannot deal with.
Apart from that, remember that setbacks are often temporary, and it’s a normal process for your body to face them. Be patient, and the progress will come soon enough!
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