Get a Second Opinion
Very few individuals can be wholeheartedly objective about their own training, particularly when things are not going well. If you're struggling with your training, have a knowledgeable and trustworthy coach or advisor review your logs. Often an in-depth look into the training and lifestyle habits of most athletes can be the key to reversing a downward trend.
It's worth noting that fitness and performance plateaus will happen in running, as with any other endurance sports. Have you been implementing the same training volume and intensity for years and years? If so, you may want to make a few tweaks. While finding a sound philosophy that suits you is important, approaching training and racing the exact same way each year and expecting different results--well we all know what that's called.
Don't Neglect Your Checkup
Deficiencies in key elements such as magnesium, potassium and particularly iron are often directly related to fatigue, reduced oxygen transport and underperformance in athletes. Even for high-performing runners, I recommend a full blood panel be drawn annually to check your critical stores.
Regarding iron in particular, levels that most physicians view as "normal" are often well below what is optimal for a long-distance runner with performance-based goals. Be sure to have both your hemoglobin and serum ferritin protein levels checked to get a comprehensive picture of your health.
Expect a Few Bumps
At some point in their competitive years, virtually every long-distance runner will see a period of decline and injury. It's normal. Hitting the reset button and effectively regaining both your physical and psychological prowess is a combination of both rest and training-based assessment.
If you take the time to address these issues intelligently and with purpose, you will have a higher likelihood of returning to top performance.
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