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Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong? After 18 months of running, I'm just getting slower and slower

(24 Posts)
WorkToDeath Sun 13-Oct-19 19:21:26

Last year I took up running as a way to lose weight. I am 166cm and was around 72kg.

When I started, I could not even run one km and tried C25k but found it was progressing too fast for me. After 6 months of doing 3 work outs a week, I had still only managed to run around 3km incredibly slowly but had lost a load of weight!

After about 12 months, I had gone under 60kg which was my target (I had actually lost a bit more than I planned) and my running started to go a bit better. I found I could do 5km as long as I took the first km v slowly (so my time was ending up around 37-40).

I was just happy I had made it tbh and the next 6 months, I was v busy at work and only managed 2 runs a week instead and in this time, it's just gone backwards. I ran this morning and only managed 3.5km.

I now have a watch that measures my heart rate and I can see that it's going over that maximum heart rate calc (220- age then multiply the answer by 85%). Is that a problem? Do others have that issue? I just don't know whether to pack it in or keep trying?

niceberg Sun 13-Oct-19 20:16:48

I run but I'm not a coach or anything. My experience is that there is a big difference between running twice and three times a week. If you manage to add a session where you are doing interval training (probably best google it than have me explain!), or a session that isn't running (eg exercise bike) if you prefer, that should help you with fitness and therefore distance/speed.

niceberg Sun 13-Oct-19 20:17:46

Sorry I didn't say anything about the heart rate issue. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable about that will come along.

ShowOfHands Sun 13-Oct-19 20:21:24

Do you do interval running? Do you ever run as fast as you physically can if even for a bit?

Just going out and doggedly plodding along at the same pace will lead to stagnation. You need to jazz it up a bit or try a new discipline. Ever tried weights? Or high intensity intervals?

WorkToDeath Sun 13-Oct-19 20:29:10

Thanks all

No I've never done interval training. I do do weights (I actually enjoy that quite a lot though I'm not brilliant at it either grin).

I'm no natural sportswoman that's for sure

I've just looked up interval training and will have to try though I'm not sure I can run very fast at all!

That's interesting about the 3x to 2x a week issue as I was wondering whether it was that

MsMartini Sun 13-Oct-19 23:31:34

Could you be anaemic? I started running last year and was slow (and old - am 52 now). I did HIIT and weights and boxing but found sustained cardio like running tough and my heart rate was high. I turned out to be really quite anaemic and was put on iron. Within weeks, I had speeded up and my heart had slowed down. I haven't really speeded up since January (5k in just under 28 mins) but I only run once a week these days tho do use the cross-trainer too. That seems to be often enough to keep that pace, and running's not my main thing so I may stick with that - but otherwise, I'd do intervals, longer slow runs, hill sprints etc.

Whether or not that could be it, if you are concerned about your heart rate, I would see your GP.

stucknoue Sun 13-Oct-19 23:40:42

I've been running a year and have only just got under 36 mins. (Started at 39) I'm running 5km weekly (Parkrun) and 3km twice

emummy Mon 14-Oct-19 08:31:53

Varying the speeds of your runs will help. If you could do 3 runs a week, one can be a speed session, one a steady run and the 3rd you can try going a little farther very few weeks - doesn't have to be much farther, even just a few hundred metres. For an interval session an easy way to start is with 'fartlek'. This is unstructured so you can do what you feel. Say jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then try to run faster to something like the next lamppost. Then jog or walk till you feel recovered and repeat. Do that 4 or 5 times if you can then jog for 5 or 10 minutes to finish. Gradually you can increase the distance you run hard for or how hard you run, but it's all under your control. Don't do it uphill! Good luck; the main thing that improves running is consistency so just keep at it. Also try not to compare yourself too much with others or judge yourself too harshly. Be proud of yourself for getting out the door and doing it.

emummy Mon 14-Oct-19 08:34:21

Sorry, meant to say that for a longer steady run you could also try run-walk intervals. If you have a google of Jeff Galloway, he promotes run walk for all sorts of distances, it might help you get consistent without putting your heart rate up so much.

Loopytiles Mon 14-Oct-19 08:35:07

Heart rate of 220 doesn’t sound good! Suggest wearing the monitor and keeping in the cardio zone, or just above if it’s comfortable.

I’m a v V slow jogger but can do 10k.

Loopytiles Mon 14-Oct-19 08:35:23

I do jog/walk when knackered

mooncuplanding Mon 14-Oct-19 08:45:43

Agree with pp - interval training

I use an app where you can set yourself the intervals, so I do one minute flat out then 30 seconds walk x 10. And you HAVE to do just flat out as fast as you can for that minute, and yes you’ll see you get slower as the intervals progress, but that doesn’t matter, you are just pushing your point of failure gradually.

It makes a massive difference to your overall speed

Runningonempty84 Mon 14-Oct-19 14:57:22

Just to echo what the others have said about interval training. To be blunt, you're not going to progress much on two short, slow, runs a week.

You want to do a minimum of three runs a week, and each one should have a purpose. For example, one Parkrun, one speed session (intervals/fartlek/call it what you will) and one longer, slower, run.

It's only by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone that you'll make progress; but with some decent speed sessions and a targeted training programme, improvement should come quickly.

Also, isn't maximum heart rate allegedly just 220 minus your age - no 85% involved? Mine gets a bit higher than that when I'm all-out sprinting for the line, but it's an ok rule of thumb. That said, I'd take the heart rate on your watch with a pinch of salt. They're not usually very accurate!

Good luck.

WorkToDeath Mon 14-Oct-19 20:58:01

Thanks. Yes I didn't mean my heart rate was 220. I had read that you should aim for 220 less your age and then multiply by 85%.

I do wonder now whether the cutting down from 3 to 2 was the big factor. With full time work and a long commute, I find it hard to fit 3 sessions in but I may need to try and squeeze 2 in the weekend and one during the week.

Thanks for all your comments - they have given me hope!

ShinyGiratina Mon 14-Oct-19 21:15:48

Have a look at the C25k+ podcasts. There's 3 of differing lengths/ paces, and the music is paced witg Laura talking you through.

Mixing it up definitely helps.

I find the 220-age works about right for me, and the hypothetical maximum is about my limit of pushing myself hard uphill/ sprint finish. There will be some individual variation. A better guide for fitness is how quickly your heart rate returns to its usual zone. The quicker the recovery, the better.

Runs can be described as working at a % of maximum heart rate. So if my maximum was 200bpm, a hard run pushing at 85% would be 170bpm. It tends to be used on detailed training plans to describe the effort needed for different runs/ stages of run.

VolcanionSteamArtillery Mon 14-Oct-19 21:22:02

Are you adequately fuelling your workouts?

If the amount you're eating has changed (which if youve lost that much your diet will have altered radically) Are you getting the right amount of calories when your body needs them. Having lost that much, if you havent run a real strong weight program, you've probably lost a bit of muscle mass too. If you're now eating to maintainance that will build back up

Lellochip Mon 14-Oct-19 22:22:52

My heart rate is much higher than the 220-age suggests it should be too. Been averaging 180+ for pretty slow plods but regularly tops 200... I don't always feel like I'm redlining though so wonder if my max just happens to be higher than normal?

Just realised I've not run in 4 weeks now so probably back to the start of c25k already 😅

Runningonempty84 Mon 14-Oct-19 22:59:08

I think your watch is inaccurate. Try a heart rate strap with a different watch and see if you get the same results?
Not only are those are some pretty crazy readings for such a slow run, but the way it goes from 0 to almost 200 within a minute, and stays there, isn't feasible.

MajesticWhine Mon 14-Oct-19 23:43:26

I run quite rarely - I do quite a bit of other exercise. A short run I did recently my heart rate went to 179, theoretical max is 172. I am otherwise healthy, have no cardiac risk factors and felt perfectly well. So in my view it's not a problem.
If you exceed 85% of the max then that is not a problem at all. It just means you are training in your peak zone.

morrisseysquif Mon 14-Oct-19 23:48:00

I am very slow and I've been doing it for years. I've run half marathons but am always at the back. I've got an NHS couch to 5k run faster podcast and that is challenging me, try it.

Lellochip Tue 15-Oct-19 00:32:56

Runningonempty84 That was a particularly bad one shared for dramatic effect (214 is ridic), but it does ramp up pretty quickly and stay there. Did a few with a chest strap (attached) and it was consistent with my watch. I do have mild exercise-induced asthma so presume that doesn't help, and am generally in fairly terrible condition!

DiscoMoo Fri 18-Oct-19 11:40:50

To increase speed, you need to run further, faster, and stronger at varying points in the week. I recommend one interval session (faster), one run incorporating hills (stronger) and a long slow run (further). If you want to improve 5k time, try gradually increasing your long run to 7 or 8k (you should only increase distance by 10% each week to avoid injury).

Also, it’s 220 minus your age, not sure where you got the 85% from, and this is just a guideline anyway. As long as your HR is back to normal shortly after completing your run there’s nothing to worry about. If your HR is still high after 10 minutes, it’s a worry. As you get fitter and stronger your HR will drop quicker.

m0therofdragons Sat 19-Oct-19 11:54:15

Do you run on your own? So much of running is in your head. I find it so hard to motivate myself if it's not a social thing so I do park run 5k on a Saturday and I've started doing one 10k per week with friends too. I only started running in February this year and really didn't believe I could even run a mile but 1.5 stone lighter and 9 months later and my brain still argues with me and tells me I can't do it when I know I can.

When my head tells me to stop I do a quick body check; how are my feet? How are my legs; how are my knees? How are my thighs? How is my breathing?

Usually the answer is fine so I just tell my brain to shut up. It's okay to walk a bit then start running again. That's not failure. Keep going!

lljkk Mon 21-Oct-19 20:20:49

I think my running PB (in last 2 yrs) is about 27 min for 5km but lately I'm running about 44minutes for 5km. I presume it's because I've barely run at all in last 6 months (Plantar fascitis) although I do at least 100 minutes of activity/day otherwise. I reckon we just need to get back into it proper, OP.

Have you tried taking your pulse by hand? I expect you would feel horrendous if your heart was really going 220 bpm.

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