I've been getting a bit better recently,and proved that to myself recently with a couple of pretty good results. Its not magic, I haven't got a new pair of shoes, and it certainly isn't simply because I've been bashing out high mileage, or just gone racing, there has been a very specific and targeted approach to my training over the last few months.
The first thing that springs to mind is hills. Specific hills, at specific speeds.
But that's not entirely it.
There have been long runs, long miles on the bike, short, hard treadmill sessions, intervals on a rowing machine, serious amounts of recovery, massage and sleeping, decent food and ridiculous sessions in the gym.
I haven't abstained from alcohol and I certainly haven't raced at every opportunity.
But what I have done, is sat down with paper and pen, worked out what my weaknesses are, worked out, very specifically how to combat that, and, perhaps most importantly, gone out there and pursued a plan.
Day after day. Week after week, month after month.
For the first year of my fellrunning experience, I ran a bit, I raced a fair amount, and I got relatively decent results. The second year I raced a little less and pretended to train a bit more specifically. I got a little better. The third year, I thought about targetting a specific race, and training specifically for it - Old County Tops. It went pretty well, and we came 7th. Results tailed off a bit after that as my training went out the window.
Last year, I targeted the English Champs.To be honest, I really thought that I'd do a lot better than I did, and that kind of gave me another boot up the bum.
As proved by my second year of racing, you can analyse and plan all you like. If you don't have the willpower to follow through and actually do the damn training, then it all pretty much means nothing. Even if you DO do the training, results don't necessarily follow on from them. You just have to do the best of your ability, and see where that lands you in the big melting pot.
If you want to improve, there's three things you can do about it.
Analyse your performance.
Plan what you're going to do to get better.
The last part of that is the most important, and indeed the most challenging.
If that's too complicated, just go running and enjoy yourself. Don't necessarily expect to get a whole lot better, but at the very least, you'll enjoy what you're doing.