Introducing: 2012 – The Year of Stretch Goals

by Jason Fitzgerald

 Are you ready to rock 2012?

Strength Running

Last January, I announced that 2011 would be dedicated to the PR. I made it my mission to help you run faster than ever and set as many personal records as possible.

Looking back over 2011, Strength Running grew tremendously and there are a lot of new resources to help you reach your potential. Over the months, many new things were added to this website:

The Strength Running PR Guide – a free Q&A ebook of 35+ questions submitted by readers, covering topics as wide as pacing, shoe rotation, injury prevention, scheduling of workouts, and race tactics. This guide was completely generated by you through all of the questions you submitted about your training.

How to Stay Fit on Vacation: Maintain Your Fitness While Sipping Cocktails – a free ebook detailing how you can maintain your running fitness while seriously cutting back your workouts on vacation. I did this successfully during my July honeymoon and came back strong to start my marathon training in August.

Warm-up and core exercise illustrations – free diagrams to remind you of the order and execution of the Standard Warm-up and Cannonball routines. These illustrations are original artwork by my wife Meaghan for Strength Running readers.

The resources above are all free and available in the Runner’s Gear Bag, along with a circuit workout and more bonus content. Just join my private newsletter and you’ll get an exclusive link. New, free resources are added periodically and you’ll always have access.

Diverse coaching options – instead of just 1-on-1 coaching like I used to offer, I now write custom race plans and personalized training critiques. No matter what type of personal coaching option you need to reach your goals, I can help.

There were also two significant events I launched – one public and one private. First, I offered a private “name your own price” event to my newsletter list, allowing them to get a PR Race Plan or Plateau Buster at whatever price we agreed upon. It was fun, but more importantly let a lot of people get one of these plans at a steep discount.

I often give bonuses like this to my most loyal readers who have signed up for the newsletter. It’s my way of rewarding you for trusting me with your email address. I treat my newsletter list seriously and only send an email 2-3 times a month when I have something valuable to share. Earning your trust is my top priority.

The second event was a free month of coaching for one reader. The giveaway was so popular (over 100 entries!) I regretted being able to only do it for one runner. But it was successful and I’m hoping to do it again in 2012.

The Rebel Running Guide – I teamed up with Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness to write this introductory guide to racing your first 5k. With a focus on a modified paleo diet and injury prevention, this guide is perfect for new or intermediate runners who want to race a fast 5k.

Growth…Because of You

The Strength Running message is traveling fast. Monthly site traffic continues to grow at about 20% and I get more emails, tweets, and post comments than ever. Runners like you are recognizing that stock training plans aren’t as effective at helping you reach your goals and injuries don’t have to be so common.

2011 saw SR being featured in some amazing media outlets like Fitness Magazine, Yahoo, and Lifehacker. These things happen when you share articles on Twitter, StumpleUpon, or Facebook. If you’ve done that in the past, then thank you.

Every share on any social media network is hugely beneficial to helping grow SR and helping other runners beat injuries and run faster. That’s why I do this and I appreciate every effort you take to help me spread that message.

I have also had the privilege of being a guest contributor to some incredible websites. If you missed these guest articles and podcast, check them out:

Writing for other websites is time consuming and pays absolutely nothing. But I do it because I love the interaction – talking about running is what gets me excited and I jump at every opportunity. If you emailed me with a question last year, then thank you. One big reason I maintain this site is because I truly enjoy helping runners break their own records and shatter personal goals.

Strength Running also got a major face lift in October, making it cleaner and easier to navigate. Providing you with an enjoyable experience while you’re here is important to me and the old website wasn’t cutting it. I hope you like the new SR!

2011 was a big success, but not because SR has grown so much or because of all the new resources. Results are what really matter and I get constant emails from people around the world who have transformed their running.

From PRs to injury rehabilitation, runners are getting stronger and racing faster.

“The second I crossed the finish line with that time, without my IT band completely blowing up on me I knew I would be sticking with you to get me that Boston Qualifying time.” – Ryan W., New Jersey (4:20 to 3:34 marathon at Philly)

“In 2011 I had one running injury, then I started reading Strength Running. I’ve been injury-free since – if you get on SR there could be a change in your future!” – Tim M., Paris

“I found your website while searching desperately for ITBS fixes. The ITBS treatment was a miracle for me!” – Stephanie, Texas

“My plan worked perfectly for me. I went into the race feeling much more comfortable with my ability and PR’d by 16 minutes from my first half! Thank you so much for your help and dedication to your subscribers. You really make it feel like a running family for us all.  Thanks again!!!” – Sara R., Missouri

Big Plans for 2012: Introducing the Year of Stretch Goals

“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur D. Clarke

I want to make this year your best yet. Forget small improvements and goals like “be more consistent.” I’m challenging you to set stretch goals.

Stretch goals are just within the border of impossible and achievable. They require hard work – any SR reader won’t shy away from that. You might think you’ll never accomplish your stretch goal, but you can with the right mindset and tools to succeed.

I’ve traditionally been a realistic goal setter, but occasionally you have to shoot for the moon. That’s what this year is all about. My buddy Joel would call these goals “impossible” – but we both know they’re possible if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and break your self-imposed limits.

Roger_Bannister_Breaking4

 

Now, my own story of stretch goals.

During my senior year in college, my stretch goal was to break 10 minutes in the 3,000m Steeplechase. At first glance, I had no business even running this event: at 5’7”, I wasn’t built to leap over five 3-foot tall barriers every lap of the track (one of them having a water pit following the barrier) at 5:20 mile pace.

Adding to the difficulty of this goal was an arch strain three weeks before the outdoor track season started. I couldn’t run, let alone jump over barriers at 11 miles per hour.

But I paid attention to rehab and stayed focused on my stretch goal of running fast in the Steeple, recovering from the injury in a week and a half. I had less than two weeks before my first steeplechase race.

My coaches were concerned that I would reinjure my foot during the race. I was told stories of much more talented runners who crashed and burned in the steeple, crawling in to the finish at pedestrian paces. I paid no attention and decided to run anyways.

On race day, I laced up my spikes and took care of business, winning the race and qualifying for the New England Championships in my first steeplechase. Running 10:04, I missed my stretch goal but got another shot in two weeks.

I succeeded, running 9:56 in my last collegiate race and one that I’m extremely proud of. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” Believe that you can achieve any lofty goal you set for yourself. Just commit to the work and develop a good plan.

What’s Your Stretch Goal?

They’ll be different for everyone, ranging from running-specific to general health goals. But in 2012, my aim with Strength Running is to help you crush barriers and achieve big things.

What are you striving for this year?

  • Running a big PR in the marathon
  • Debuting in your first ultramarathon
  • Winning your age group….or the entire race
  • Getting to your ideal weight range
  • Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

No matter how crazy they might seem to others, “impossible” goals are achievable. Some of my friends are incredulous that I run over 80 miles a week. My family thinks I’m a physical oddball who can somehow withstand all that mileage. Others could never imagine training for a marathon.

But it’s all possible – for me and for you. That’s what 2012 is all about: helping you dominate. I’m going to show you even more injury prevention tips, race tactics, and training strategies to help you be the best runner you can be.

In a few weeks, I’m announcing a new project to my private email list. It won’t be publicized here on the blog, but it’s going to be big and something that I’ve never done before. The project will continue to be private for at least three more months, so don’t miss out.

If you want to be one of the first ones to have access and learn about it, then enter your email here or in the sign-up form below.

Get ready, it’s going to be a great year.

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Steve

Hey Jason…just found your site (I think I saw a link somewhere on Pat F’s site.) Like your content and joining your email list after this comment.

I’d say my stretch goal for this year will be to break my marathon PR that I set about ten years ago. Right now, I’m 10 minutes off; but I’m pretty confident I can do it by October.

What’s your stretch goal?

Anyway…good luck with the new project!

Jason

Hi Steve, welcome aboard! Glad to have you here. My stretch goal: run 3 PR’s that have been haunting me for years: 5k, 8k, and 10k. Plus, I want to run my first 100 mile week. I better get started!

Steve

Sounds like you have a lot to accomplish…Good luck with all four goals!

Leo

This site is a tremendous resource for runners like me wanting to go faster. I wanted to thank you for all your advices and encouragement. I have used your ITBS Rehab routine on my recent IT Band injury. I did the excercises religously for 3 weeks and was able to get back to running in 3 weeks time! Amazing! I was expecting a longer recovery period. My prior IT band injury took me 3 months to get back to running.

Jason

That’s great Leo, so happy to hear you’re having relief from ITBS!

Alex

I’m one of the new-as-of-2011 readers, and very glad to be on the growing bandwagon. (Which is probably obvious, given my comment frequency). Goal number one is to stay healthy, and keep making progress. Without that, nothing else can follow. More ambitiously, I want to win an ultra outright. Lawrence has a couple on my hometown trail, so we’ll see. As always, thanks for the content. I always look forward to it. (Way better than a Runners World subscription.)

Jason

Winning an ultramarathon? Talk about a stretch goal! I love it.

Alex

Yeah, it’s ambitious. But I’m sticking to my local races, and thus a relatively small pond. Regardless, no one ever got good at anything by accident. You have to set stupid-high goals, train for them, and see what happens.

John

Jason – My stretch goal is to complete the 25k… thanks again for the training plan!

Jason

My pleasure :)

Joe

My stretch goal for 2012 is finishing a half marathon in under two hours. May not seem like a stretch goal, but my first outing two years ago was 2:35 and I completed my first marathon last year in 5:00. So, I’m calling it a stretch goal!!

Jason

Definitely achievable. I helped Lydia do exactly the same – see the post here: http://strengthrunning.com/2011/05/all-star-profile-lydia-hintze/.

Mike

Jason – my stretch goal is to take off enough time from running and working out to clear up my case of osteitis pubis that has been plaguing me since June 2011. With it I still ran my 1st marathon (a 3:49 at San Francisco) and trained until October for my 1st ultra, ultimately having to abandon it due to a double hernia and the osteitis. I want to run and workout so badly and sitting on the sideline is so hard to do. I have pledged to my wife to sit out the entire month of January (no exercise at all) and then reassess. I’ll take off February if I have to as well. I’m registered for the Big Sur marathon at the end of April, but will not run it if I can’t train for it (though it’s long been on the bucket list). Anyway, this isn’t a novel, but I wanted to let you know where I am coming from. My real stretch goal though….is to get healthy and run a sub 3:30 at MCM in October!

This is a great website with a ton of resources! Thanks! I am signing up for the newsletter right now!

Jason

Hey Mike, welcome aboard! Sounds like you’re on the right path toward recovery – good luck and thanks for joining the team :)

Greg Strosaker

I was going to ask what your stretch goal was, but I see that was asked and answered. So OK, here goes – 2:50 at Akron. Now maybe a 5:41 improvement in the PR doesn’t sound all that impressive, but Akron’s course is flat out nasty – makes Boston look easy. The back end hills are probably worth 3:00 or so – more if you’ve trashed your quads on the downhills from miles 9-11. May also sneak in a 100 mile week along the way, not unreasonable given that my summer plan is a 70-85 mile/week plan. And to get my weight under 160 lbs. – bottomed out around 162 last year before the Towpath, I think. Best of luck, looking forward to following along again this year.

Jason

Three pound weight loss isn’t a stretch goal! But 2:50 and 100 mpw definitely are – I’m rooting for you.

Sam

I wanna see Jason go sub 16 in the 5k!!

Jason

Give me a few months and hopefully I will! :)

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