Be a better runner
What does it truly take to be a better runner?
I will be quite honest.
This doesn't involve VO2 max training or long runs at near maximum effort. It goes far beyond sport watches, underwater treadmills and will provide the bedrock foundation you need to reach a new level.
Heart, attitude and the willingness to endure being uncomfortable outweighs all the crap that is out there.
All of those things have their place but the best distance runners back in the day didn't have heart rate monitors, gels during races or high altitude tents to sleep in.
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift – Steve Prefontaine
It is an honor getting e-mails from people wanting help.
This is the biggest compliment and honor I can receive as an aspiring coach. I have been training VERY hard for over 20 years and during that time I have been told ‘you would make a great coach'.
I don't necessarily know if I will be or not but I will take the same attitude I have had as a runner and that is to give it a shot.
It is my belief that some of the greatest coaches in the world were never runners to begin with. Dr. Joe Vigil, one of the world's top authorities on distance running and exercise physiology, was not a runner.
My collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, and him were like brothers and have known one another for many years.
I had the good fortune of not only having the opportunity to be coached by Jack, but on numerous occasions was able to hear Joe speak and chat with him.
I would marvel at his gift of gab. He captivated me when he spoke and I have attached a great video of him giving a speech that will back up what I am writing.
I have been asked numerous times in the past ten years since I have been in the Army, ‘what should I do to be more competitive'. I'll share my thoughts and hopefully it will impact you in some way.
You Have To Care
Improvement in running takes consistent, honest, and focused work. I found a love for this when I was 15 and had I known my passion for it was this great I would have started at 5 but am blessed the Lord allowed me to find it.
I have never turned away a person who wanted to talk to me at races or needed a question answered. If you watch the video above Joe talks about caring about your fellow man.
This is vital because the moment you think you are the smoothest thing since Andrea Bocelli, you have lost. You have to care about your health and helping others gain in their
Work First, Results Later
The greatest thing you can do to gain strength in your training and racing is letting go of worrying about upcoming races.
DO set goals. DO train your tail off but DO NOT spend any wasted time worrying if you are fit enough, put in enough mileage or measure yourself with other athletes.
It is time better spent focusing on your preparation.You will be that much more lethal the day you race by having spent your time on the things you CAN control like sleep.
Did you discipline yourself to get to bed at a descent hour? Did you stay up until 1am every weekend allowing yourself only a few hours of sleep.
Are you drinking adequate amounts of water to replace what you have lost.
Jason Fitzgerald, proved my point even further in his post The Psychology of Running Motivation: How To Get In The Right Frame Of Mind To Dominate Your Training,
Successful runners achieve their goals by setting themselves up to succeed. They create a framework that allows them to get in better shape and run faster with fewer barriers.
I had to learn to do this long ago and I am sure it is safe to say that the vast majority of those visiting rundreamachieve.com work full-time jobs, have families and do not have the luxury of being able to train full-time.
That being said, I have to be quite honest in saying, I have had that luxury and I did a better job of racing and training without it.
I have many friends who do this full-time, sponsored by Nike and other major shoes companies.
Talented athletes work hard
They all are work horses, deserve to see the results of their hard work, but an athlete who is striving to be a better runner, working full-time, possibly with children, and still fighting for their goals is huge.
You really have to time manage everything you do. Do you have to be at work at 6am? Well, sometimes you'll have to get up at 4am to knock out a 45 minute run before you head in. I had to get up at 2am during a military field exercise last year because I had a tent duty that started at 5am and had to get in an 18-mile run in before it started.
I was training for the Monumental Indianapolis Marathon and had no choice.
The Army's mission wasn't going to stop just because CPT Pennington was trying to run a 2.19.00 marathon.
You make do, it isn't easy, sometimes you are going to want to quit. Too much is on your plate and it isn't worth it. It is because you'll live the rest of your life with the knowledge that you gave an absolute honest attempt at something that nobody else would even think to do.
Find your passion
You will make the biggest gains as a runner by being undeterred by the struggles you likely will experience or have already dealt with trying to work a full-time job and wondering how on earth you will prepare for your next race.
You have to follow through with your passion. If something is blocking your path, research ways to go around it. I have had many occasions where I knew no one cared if I was training or not but I was fortunate to have a few people in my life that did care.
Surround yourself with the right people
Want to get better? Surround yourself with people who give a damn about you, what you stand for and believe in what you are trying to do. Big and rewarding projects like getting better at running demands your time and attention and you have to believe in it wholeheartedly.
You don't get better in running by getting out for a run one day, taking a couple weeks off, then doing another run. You do by consistent effort, day after day.
The results may not be seen initially but I guarantee you, they will emerge weeks down the road. You will certainly notice the difference in your fitness, paces you are holding in training and how easy the effort feels.
There will be momentum building upon every workout you put in. I ran two disappointing marathons before I broke 2.20 but remember, running is cumulative, those workout your putting in are eventually going to pay off.
You truly have to find ways not to lose heart when things get in your path that will try to dimmer the passion you have.
My heart goes out to you. I understand fully how it feels to being uncertain about your ability.
If you have always thought as yourself as not someone who can stick to a plan, than now is the time to give it a shot.
The mind is so powerful and you have so much capability.
I may not know you from Adam but know this, I do care. I understand the frustrations motivated athletes feel and I know how it feels to combat against the struggles that try to stop you from achieving your goals.