I think most of us have heard the saying that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing while expecting to see different results.
When something is working, obviously you want to stick with it.
As I’ve talked about before, in running consistency really is key.
But when what you’re doing isn’t bringing you the results you are seeking?
More often than not, more of the same isn’t the answer.
A Few (Possible) Signs of Insanity
The road to insanity often begins innocently enough.
Often, it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that we recognize that we are, in fact, repeatedly doing the same thing while hoping for different results.
If any of the following signs of insanity hit a bit too close to home, you might want to see if you can make a few tweaks to your training in order to avoid the unfavorable outcome.
The Same Recurring Injury
If you seem to develop the same injury every few months or every training cycle, something is amiss.
You could be adding too many miles too quickly. Or your form might need to be addressed. Or maybe there’s a strength deficit that is causing you problems.
Whatever the actual cause is, simply continuing to do what you’ve been doing isn’t likely to provide you a clean bill of health any time soon.
Instead of continuing to keep on keeping on, what should you do instead?
Well, depending on the injury and your specific situation, the recommendations will vary.
But getting on board with the little things is a great place to start. A visit to a physical therapist may also be a good idea. And you might want to think about working with a coach to adjust your training a bit.
A Rough First Mile (or More)
Is your first mile usually your hardest mile?
Does it take you a mile (or three?) to get the joints loosened up and the body feeling right?
If the first few miles really are uncomfortable, that’s not normal!
If you’re suffering through the first few miles, just waiting for your body to finally feel good so you can enjoy the rest of your run, that needs to stop!
Running should be fun, and I can’t think of a scenario in which suffering through a handful of miles just to get to a point where the run doesn’t hurt anymore can be fun!
So what should you do instead?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to say don’t run!
But what I’m going to suggest is doing something a bit more intentional PRIOR to your run, to help you prep your body for the task at hand.
Basically, I’m suggesting you adopt a proper warm-up routine.
There is no one-size-fits-all perfect warm-up routine for everyone, but anything that helps get the blood flowing, warms up your muscles, and lubricates your joints is probably going to fit the bill.
Whether it’s the lunge matrix, some band work, simple calisthenics, dynamic stretches, so some combination of activities, if you prime your body a bit before your run it will likely make those first few miles a bit more tolerable.
Stuck on a Prolonged Plateau
Have you, more or less, stopped making measurable progress toward your goals?
Progress in running is almost never linear.
There are regular ebbs and flows in our sport, and occasionally all of us get stuck on a bit of a plateau.
But if you feel like you haven’t seen much (any?) improvement in a year or more, it might be time to reassess what you’re doing.
Maybe you need to add some more miles to your training. Maybe you need to cut back a bit.
But if you find yourself stuck on a plateau in terms of your progress, odds are more of the same isn’t going to help you break free of the plateau and start making progress again.
Your body probably needs a bit of a shock to the system to start making progress again.
Mix things up in some form or fashion, and the plateau may soon be a thing of the past.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
A lot of time, cases of this kind of insanity are rooted in good intentions.
Many of us have long been taught that hard work breeds success.
As such, it’s not uncommon for us to feel like we just need to keep working harder in order to overcome whatever obstacle is in our path.
But in some cases, such as those mentioned above, bullish hard work can often just continue to recreate the results we are trying to avoid.
In those cases, a change of tack is required.
Switching up what you are doing, working a bit smarter instead of harder, may be just what it takes to help you get the results you’ve been looking for all along.
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