One of the perks of running this site is that I get to talk to runners all day, every day. We chat about training, injuries, racing, how to be more consistent, and the mental side of getting faster. I’m a huge nerd and love all this stuff, so it makes me happy.
But recently I’ve noticed a trend in the types of questions being asked. There’s a subtle theme to all of them:
- How can I PR in the marathon on 3 days of training per week?
- How have you been injury-free for almost three years?
- What can I do to take 11 minutes off my 10k time?
Sometimes I struggle with these questions because the answer is very complex. Of course I’m happy to answer. But it seems that some runners think there’s a “secret” to reaching your potential or a shortcut to run better on less training.
Let’s get real: there’s no silver bullet answer, training plan, or quick list of three “revolutionary” things that will magically make you faster and healthy. Although, there are some who may disagree:
I saw an article in Competitor about Tracy Lokken, a 46 year old guy who ran 2:24 in the marathon. I was immediately impressed and rushed over to read the article to learn his training secret. I fell into the same trap and was let down a little when I read the answer:
So how does Lokken, who was once a roofer, run so fast at this age?
The answer isn’t complicated: put in your miles. Referring to the times spent as a roofer when he would be working all day, Lokken had this to say: “If I had to show up to work at 6 in the morning, I would get up at 4 to get my running in,” he says. “There’s no excuse if you aren’t putting in the time and effort.”
Almost better than the short article was this sarcastic comment:
Well gee, that was tremendously helpful. If I knew that all I had to do was put in my miles, I would would have won Kona a long time ago.
It seems like he was expecting a revolutionary training secret, too. Sometimes we constantly search for the next blog post titled “10 Easy Ways to Run Fast” or look for the newest gadget that will somehow make us more consistent in our running.
This was a forceful reminder that there are no secrets to improvement. There are “best practices” and training techniques that work very well (that’s what I try to write about here), but no sexy training tips that don’t require some work.
Greg Strosaker left a very insightful comment on my 2:39 marathon race report last week that sums this up well:
Congrats on the culmination (for now) of a phenomenal journey starting all the way back to NYC [marathon in 2008]. Everything you have done since then has prepared you for this day – it wasn’t one good training season, or a few key workouts, it was the full body of work and the physiological gains you developed in patiently executing it.
Greg is right; my successful marathon is the result of two years of hard work and being patient about my fitness.
But there’s nothing sexy about hard work and patience. I guarantee this blog post won’t be popular – there’s no catchy headline or list of tips that will get people excited. It may even cost me; a few runners who are thinking about working with me may think I don’t have any good (new! sexy! easy!) training ideas.
I’m more interested in getting you to take action and put in the work than giving you training porn.