Plateauing is a common problem. It can feel worrying if it goes on for a while, but there is usually a way through.
Have you tried any interval training or fartlek, and if so, what specifically? This gets most people moving again in terms of out of a plateau, but really the key is often simply to change a few things in order to make that next step up. It may be a bit late for next week's 10k , but there's plenty of time to improve for an october HM. If you can answer the above about intervals/fartlek, I'll happily be a bit more specific about what it might be worth trying next, if someone else doesn't get in first! But don't despair!!!
p.s. Afraid to say that a few extra pounds can affect times, but again that's not a worry, I find when I restart HM training in earnest, they usually drop off
If I was you pick a target race, which I think the HM you mention is far enough into the future and use one of the training plans to attain it.
Training for a 10k is different for a HM and different again for a full marathon as the endurance element increases and the speed decreases.
You may find some HM schedules incorporate a 5/10k tune up race near the end of the schedule and only then measure your improvement.
It would be no good doing a marathon schedule to target a 10k race and vice versa, so patience is needed to build that level of fitness up through a structure approach.....it will come eventually may take over 12 - 18 months to really get some speed in.
I was in the same position a while back (but wasn't overly worried) I then joined my local club and only run with them once a week, but what a difference it has made.
My 1ok time went from 56 mins to 51 mins and my half marathon time from just over 2 hrs to 1.51 (was a flat one)
I just needed more structure and advice.
Moraghan wrote (see)
Get some proper training paces and stick to them before you end up hating running forever.
You don't really need to know exact pace - go by effort (in my opinion)
Easy - can hold a conversation pretty easily
Tempo - can get a few words out together but it's not easy
Hard - can gasp the odd word
VO2Max - oh sh!t, I'm going to be sick..........
I would suggest running with someone faster than you, as you obviously do is the way to go forward - you can add in all the speed sessions etc, but your running partner could actually drag you along faster than you would normally run - BUT I also think you do need to slow it down too as someone else said you are pretty much racing each time you go out - you need to run faster in some runs and slower in others, perhaps you are training yourself to run at one pace - vary it, and I would have thought, you are in an ideal position, running with a former elite runner, who must be a mind of information and tips.
Nessie73 wrote (see)
How do I get those paces without a garmin or similar?
As Nessie says, going by perceived effort is one way. You could also just time runs where you already know the distance, and experiment with different paces - after a while you get used to the 'feel of a pace. Heart rate monitors will also give you a good idea of effort, and are cheaper than Garmins. Training zones for heart rate are available on the web, but it all depends on working out your working heart rate, which can be a bit tricky.
If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting a Garmin. You can get a 205 or 305 for well under £100 these days if you shop around a bit. As well as providing useful pace and distance information, the main benefit for me was I stopped sticking to the same routes (whose distance I knew). I could just run anywhere, on and off road, following my nose and enjoying myself. A relaxed run with some good views is a good way of encouraging yourself to slow down a bit.
If a GPS is expensive, then get a cheap Heart Rate Monitor. I got one shortly after I started running, and found it made a HUGE difference. It made me run much slower... which in turn meant that I could run faster too. It sounds odd, but it works.
Basicly, I found that I was doing all of my running too fast. The HRM made me slow down for longer runs, but also work harder on shorter, faster runs. Worth getting a boot too. The Compleat Idiots Guide to HRM has been worth its weight in gold for me. It isn't highly technical, so makes it easy to follow the science behind what you are doing and what you are trying to achieve.
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