Introducing 2011: The Year of the PR

by Jason Fitzgerald

Year of the PR

Year of the PR: How Many Medals Do You Want?

The summer of 2005 was transformative for me. After a somewhat successful spring track season, I saw a spark of talent I hadn’t seen in years. I had put in slightly above average training for only 4 weeks, but it was nothing spectacular. During the last race of the season I ran a personal record in the 5k.

This flash of success made me curious: how could I run a PR after just 4 weeks of above average training? What if I had 12 weeks of awesome training? The possibilities started flooding my brain – all of the “what if’s” that run through your head when you start planning for future success.

Now that my season was over, I had some time to plan my summer training, so I started looking at how I could dominate. I had 13 weeks until cross country started at the end of August.

I made the simple decision to dedicate myself to seeing how good I could be. I gave myself three months and the test was our annual cross country fitness test. What did I have to lose?

Throughout the summer, I made every right decision:

  • My mileage increased to 80-85 miles per week based on how I felt. I never pushed it when I was exhausted.
  • I spent 2-4 hours every week riding my road bike and pool running.
  • Barefoot strides and drills helped me prevent injury and become a more efficient runner.
  • My long run increased from my standard 13-15 miles to 16. I never felt stronger.
  • I did a core routine 2-3 times per week, something I had never done before.

Unlike other years, I simply made the decision that I was going to be a better runner. I put in the work that I knew I needed to. I made all the right decisions, including averaging 9 hours of sleep every night. I was a machine. I knew I needed to run more, stay healthy, cross train, do core exercises, and rest when I needed to. So I did it. Every lifestyle decision was influenced by the background question, “How will this affect tomorrow’s run?”

When you have the mindset of a faster runner, you become a faster runner.

Here’s my last week of summer training in 2005 to give you a feel for what I was doing (and yes, I have running logs going all the way back to 1999):

Monday 8/22: 9 miles with a 6:40 mile on the track
Tuesday 8/23: AM: 4 miles with a 6:41 mile on the track, PM: 13 miles + ice bath
Wednesday 8/24: AM: 3 mile w/up, 5k @ tempo, 4 mile w/down. 5k in 17:38 on the track – mile splits 5:45, 5:40, 5:31, :42. PM: 80 minute pool run w/ 2x(10×30″ pickups with 30″ recovery)
ursday 8/25: AM: 5 miles, PM: 10 miles
Friday 8/26: 16 miles
Saturday 8/27: AM: 5 miles with a 6:51 mile on the track and 4 strides in spikes, PM: 46′ bike ride
Sunday 8/28: Fitness Test – 2x3k with 10′ run recovery. 1st rep: tied for 2nd place in 9:48. 2nd rep: 1st place in 9:47.

So what happened after that summer? I went from being our 6th or 7th Varsity runner to winning the last rep of our fitness test. Talk about improvement!

This is what happens when you decide to make a positive change in your running and implement it correctly. I took action.

That’s what this year is going to be for you. I am going to help you achieve times that you previously thought were impossible. You’re going to crush barriers, stomp on preconceived notions of how fast you are, and surprise your running friends by your progress.

I’m going to ask a lot of you. Sometimes it will be hard and easier to sit on your couch and eat ice cream. If that’s what you’d rather do, then maybe this isn’t for you. Let your friends worry about the best new running top and the differences between treadmill and road running. You’re going to dominate them.

The #1 thing people ask me about is how to get faster. I hear that they want to run personal bests. That’s why I write here at Strength Running – to help you achieve your goals. I’m constantly thinking about ways to get you faster. I’m serious – sometimes I text myself ideas when I’m out because I don’t want to forget.

I am really excited to announce that 2011 is the year of the PR.

Maybe you want to qualify for Boston but find yourself hovering around that qualifying time. I’m going to show you how to tweak your training to reach that new fitness level.

If you’re just getting started then I’ll show you how to consistently shave time off your race performances while having fun, reaching your ideal race weight, and setting the foundation for long-term success.

This is what’s coming up this year:

  • Interviews with successful runners who will share how they’re dominating – and how you can too.
  • I’m going to push you to try new things, run harder, and run even more. You can’t get better without taking ACTION.
  • My own personal successes and failures. I consider myself a case study for the Strength Running philosophy – so follow along to see how fast I can run.
  • Later I’m launching my own running program – for those who want a comprehensive, detailed guide from start to finish (more on this later).

What now?

I hope you’re as excited as I am. I have big things in store for 2011 – for Strength Running, my personal running, and for YOU. Get on board and make the decision to get faster. Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Stop thinking about running faster and making excuses. Stop reading “Top 10 Running Shoes” posts.
  2. Realize that you’re going to have to take action and be proactive about reaching your running goals.
  3. What are your goals? Leave your goals in the comments below and let me know what you hope to achieve in 2011 and how I can help.

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Ty

I’d like to break 3:20 and qualify for New York w/ a 1:30 half.

Fitz

THAT’S a goal. I’m hoping to run Boston in 2012 – maybe I’ll see you there!

Wes

I am going to break 2 hours in the half marathon in March, and then I’m going to set a new PR in the (stand alone) marathon in the Fall, as a benchmark for future running. In between that, I will continue to do short triathlons (spring, Oly). I am positive that the things you share will help me be a better runner!

Fitz

I love that you’re saying “I am…” – very proactive. Do you have a plan?

Wes

I have a basic week laid out, and I am practicing the Mind-Body type training from Fitzgerald’s latest book.

Lisa

I’m hoping to break 2 hrs for my 1/2 marathon time too. And 4 hrs for the marathon. And 50 min for the 10K (probably a stretch?). Mostly, I just want my “natural” pace to be between 8:30 & 9.

Fitz

We’re getting there :)

Chris

My goal is sub two hour in a trail half-marathon. We have a great half-marry on some of our local trails here every fall. The terrain is technical and challenging, but not to extreme. Maybe this is too ambitious, seeing how I have never even raced this distance before!

Fitz

It’s a good idea to test the waters in a 10k / half / 10 miler this spring to get a benchmark, then go from there.

Justin

Improve my (only) marathon PR of 3:28 to BQ under 3:11. Hopefully with that behind me I can then break 3:00 at Boston if not before. Looking forward to reading what you have to share.

Fitz

Big goals! That’s going to take a lot of hustle

Michael

Back running again (since August) after 25 years off! Was a sub-16:00 5k runner in high school until major ankle surgery. Running 8:15 min. miles now. Goal is to go 23:30 min 5k in March and 21:30 by end of Summer. Progress has been steady but I’ll need to make a big push!

Fitz

The talent is definitely there Michael, keep working at it.

Tammy Dean

Well Jason- you know my goals already, and after this week of training- I can imagine me making at least one or two of them (1:45 half in Feb and 1:40 April). Thanks to you, your training plans, the common sense and way you dove right into getting me on track is amazing! I am so thankful I found you- even after only 6 weeks with you! The improvements are noticeable- what you are doing is working for me!

Looking forward to the upcoming half.. I never knew I could feel this good after a few weeks of focussed training!

Fitz

Thanks Tammy! I’m so glad it’s working and can’t wait until you race.

Chaya

I’m going to qualify for Boston in my first marathon (Eugene), on May 1, with a 3:40. I just set a half-marathon PR of 1:46, so I think with some serious speedwork (which I have in my training plan) and a lot of core work, I can pull it off. It will be close but I want to give it my all.

And I’m going to run a sub 1:40 in the same half marathon next December.

I haven’t even been running for a year and a half, and I keep taking off big chunks of my time with every race. I think if I can stay healthy and consistent with my training, I can achieve both these goals.

I’d really like to be able to look back at my training like you mentioned. I use DailyMile, which is great, but I’d also like to keep a paper record. Any tips for a template?

Fitz

Quite an aggressive marathon goal! Don’t rely too heavily on a lot of speedwork – the marathon is 99% aerobic. My notebook entries are simple – much like you see in this post! I might put a little more about where I ran, splits, or how I felt, but otherwise it’s just a log of what I did.

Jay

I’m still very new to running (4 months). So, my primary goal is to continue to improve my running fitness. As concerns racing, I’d like to run a 21:43 5k. I’d love to have a race pace that starts with a 6! That would be a three minute improvement over my last, and only, 5k time. I have 12 weeks to prepare, and I’m positive I can do it.

Fitz

Consistency is the name of the game – keep plugging away at it and be mindful of the little things (core, sleep, not making silly training decisions). There aren’t any shortcuts. Good luck Jay!

Josh

This year I am going to run a sub 1:30 half marathon. I plan to race in my first triathlons (sprints) this year. Additionally I think I can go under 40 in a 10k and as close to 19 flat on a 5k as possible. Thanks for asking.

Fitz

Good luck Josh. I’d say if you can run 19 flat in a 5k, you can break 40 minutes in a 10k. But it might be tough if you can’t get close to 19 flat.

Kenneth

I promise I will stop running so many marathons and finally get on with your program. First goal, a sub-four marathon in Paris. Doable or not in 4 months but I will try my best.

Just got back from Asia, now lets get on to some serious training.

Fitz

Sounds good to me!

Greg Strosaker

Mark my year of the PR as a success – http://www.dailymile.com/people/gstrosaker/entries/10313555. Now what should we do next year??

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