Persistence running is all about taking the goal you have, breaking it down into smaller pieces and focusing on achieving them.
I received word that a great friend of mine and former army world class program teammate, Kenny Foster, had won the Penn Relays 10,000m event last thursday outrunning a very strong field of collegiate and elite men in the process.
You would have to know Kenny’s story to know how overjoyed I was to hear this news. Kenny, like me and am sure many of you, had to endure many disappointing races to get to the level he is currently at.
Persistence running is the only way to get it.
Last year, still a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program he flew to the 2011 Rotterdam, Netherlands and ran a very brave race setting a than personal best of 1.07.53 through the half-marathon point, but succumbed to fatigue and had to withdraw from the race around mile 21.
I have been in his shoes and I am sure many of you have had to deal with a DNF. It isn’t a fun experience, but persistence running is all about overcoming disappointments and using them as fuel to get to where you want to go with your ability.
Have you ever seen athletes who just seem to keep getting better and better? They never seem to have a bad race. I know I have. I am sure many of these same runners have had their own hardships along the way they just seem to nail it every time. The main thing is we’re all different. No one told us the exact way to train to get results.
Facts About Persistent Running…or Fiction…
You need to run X amount of miles to run X time. It doesn’t work like that. The name of the game in this sport and in life is persistence. It is the underlying factor to succeed at anything. One runner may need to run 30 miles a week, the next 70 miles a week to earn an equal race result. One may have endless races that are deemed excellent, another may have only a few with many more disappointments.
The best athletes in the world have disappointments but they all are highly persistent. They simply keep trying and do not know the word ‘quit’.
I have always valued hard work over talent. I think people that rely solely on their talent and are not willing to work hard will not have long-term success. I have known many talented athletes who got tired of the sport and simply didn’t want to give up their time anymore to an already demanding sport.
You have to find a meaning in why you are a running. Is it to compete or lose weight? What are your goals? I can tell you from personal experience whatever they are, you have the capability to achieve them. I will also not throw sunshine at you and tell you it will be easy. It may very well drive you to your limits, but you don’t have to let the hardships you will endure in training, control your mindset.
How To Be A More Persistent Runner
- Narrow in on your goal and shave away anything that will hinder you from achieving it. Are you staying up too late? Stop doing that! Do you really want to break that time barrier, but the late night partying doing you wrong? Ask yourself then, am I selling myself short by this activity? Trust me, I love to have a good time too, but you can’t get too far away from what it is you are trying to accomplish. Results will not fall into your lap, you and I both know this so recognize what may or may not hinder you from gaining the goal your trying to achieve.
- Put more emphasis on quality over quantity. Running isn’t easy. Results don’t come overnight and to get them you have no real room to let up. You may not be getting the results as quickly soley because you are not training at the optimum intensities. Bill Bowerman was quoted as saying, ‘If someone tell you they ran 100 miles last week, don’t listen to him, who cares, the magic isn’t in the 100 miles, the magic is in you’. Training smarter, not harder. You have to train at high quality with an enormous emphasis on recovery in order to see drastic results. Long slow miles alone will not do the trick. It will get you fit, yes, but will it get you that much closer to racing at your goal pace? Food for thought.
Why should I run slow. I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast – Emil Zatopek
- Never believe you don’t have the capability. I can’t stress this one enough. More harm has been done than good when runners give up mentally that they simply don’t have the ability to run the times others run. It isn’t about them anyway. If you are running a 19 minute 5000m time and want to get to 16 minutes, what do you think you have to do in order to drop those 3 minutes? 1) you have to run consistent mileage 2) you have to place a strong emphasis on speed and equal focus on recovering from those workouts and last an certainly not least, you have to be extremely patient. To run fast times, you are going to have to train fast. That being said, running fast everyday for the simple sake of running at faster speeds is not smart.
Runners have to keep in mind that persistence running is about training smarter, not harder. Do you think running at 6.30 mile pace everyday when your current 5K race pace is 6.15 pace going to get results? It may in the short term but in the long run it is going to cause staleness and disappointment.
Results come when your patient enough to handle the tough days when nothing seems to be working and keep putting in the work until your golden moment comes along and your body has adapted to the stress you have placed on it.