If your race times keep slowing down despite your best efforts, you're not alone.
No runner can PR every time he or she laces up his or her racing shoes. But there's a difference between not running faster and experiencing a steady decline in your race time. Subpar race times can be caused by many factors. For most runners, three culprits are responsible for pushing down race times.
Slow-Down Cause #1: You're Racing Too Much
Racing is a thrill and those who love the excitement sometimes get carried away and enter too many races.
Running at your maximum effort is stressful and requires proper recovery to ensure you're able to continue training and racing to your maximum potential. But runners who race every weekend (or who run multiple marathons over a 1- to 2-month period) will start to see their race times stagnate.
There's a short window of about 4 to 6 weeks when runners are able to perform at their peak. After this period of time, most of us will feel "stale" or "burned out."
The fast workouts designed to push us into peak shape, develop our speed, and prepare us for a maximum effort also introduce a high level of stress to our bodies. After weeks of this stress, our bodies need time to recover with time off, a healthy diet and better sleep.
Races are just like these "peaking" workouts. If your race times are plummeting and you've been toeing the starting line every week for a month or more, take some time off and then focus on training, not racing.