The Principle of Progression: How to Consistently Get Faster

by Jason Fitzgerald

A lot of runners are realizing that mainstream advice is leaving them injured, frustrated, and slow:

“I booked a sports physio session. They said to give it a weeks rest and see how it feels. Well….here I am 3 months later.”

“I went to a few PTs and massage but none of it was helping so I gave up. Everyone just said rest, so I did for 2 MONTHS!”

“My biggest struggle is direction. I don’t know where or what to do next. I have big thoughts and dreams but am prone to injury, so I tend to stop at any little sign of discomfort.”

Notice that these people are following the same tired advice and are getting the same results: injuries, insecure training, and hopelessness. They feel betrayed by the conventional wisdom that’s popular, but ineffective.

Consistently injured runners never progress in their training because of so many setbacks. Many of them think that faster runners are fast only because of genetics and never get hurt. In reality, talented runners have better access to injury prevention and training strategies than most runners. They got this “insider” knowledge from years of running at the high school, college, and post-collegiate levels with competitive clubs.

With more experienced runners and coaches to learn from, they were able to see – and experience – structured training and racing. Runners who pick up on the sport later in life typically rely on mainstream advice; and we’ve seen how that plays out.

While I was lucky to have gone through the high school and collegiate levels of cross country and track, the science and art of coaching has evolved significantly in the last ten years. Good training is different than what I did in college and very different from my high school running.

After reading almost every training book out there, talking to other coaches, experimenting with my own running, and learning from past mistakes I’ve come to realize what effective training – running that actually gets big results – looks like.

Using Progression to Get Faster

Becoming a better runner means transforming your body slowly over time to handle more running at faster speeds. It sounds intimidating – but anyone can do it. Even couch potatoes can run dramatically faster than they ever thought, provided they follow the surprisingly simple principles of progression.

Most runners don’t follow a good progression – they do almost the same training all the time and their performances flat-line for years. They ask, “I’ve run the same marathon time for the last three years – can I really improve?” The answer is almost always yes, because the principle of progression is usually not being followed.

If you’re progressing properly – week to week, month to month, and year to year – you’ll avoid burnout and keep your training fresh. You’ll always be energized to run.

There needs to be a shift in how runners approach their training in order to realize their potential. One aspect of that shift is perspective - the perspective of long-term training and being patient. After all, success doesn’t happen overnight.

To help illustrate how progression works – especially in the long-term – I thought drawing some (incredibly artistic) graphs would be helpful.

Do you have questions about how to manage your long-term training and progress through mileage and workout increases to get ready for the marathon? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond to every question.

Questions about Run Your BQ

One of the most common questions we receive about Run Your BQ is, “Can I actually qualify for Boston?” I’m generalizing, because some of the specific questions are more like:

“I’m an hour and 25 minutes slower than my BQ time…can I still qualify?”

“I’m really far off my BQ, can I qualify in one training cycle?”

“Can you absolutely guarantee that I’ll run a BQ?”

Of course Matt and I can’t guarantee that you’ll qualify for Boston. If we said that, you’d know we’re full of shit. There’s a hundred variables in every scenario – but we can provide the training, support, and guidance so you’re doing the most effective workouts and staying motivated during the tough middle part of your marathon training.

I took over 5 minutes off an already fast time of 2:44 to run 2:39 at the Philadelphia Marathon. I also haven’t had a significant running injury since 2009! And Matt took over 100 minutes off his first marathon time to eventually qualify for Boston

You can see how Matt did it in this free special report called The BQ Blueprint]

Matt’s example is especially inspiring. I know that I have a bit of luck on my side in having some of the genetic tools necessary to run a pretty fast marathon (not to say I don’t work my ass off). But Matt went from running nearly 5 hours to 3:09! If you’re wondering how much incremental improvement you need – or if it’s even realistic for you to qualify – that example is sufficient alone to show you that it’s possible.

Have you ever asked yourself:

“How much is too much strength training during marathon training?”

“What’s the best way to build your base but still get faster?”

“How do I balance the intensity of workouts with high mileage so I don’t get too fatigued?”

“What’s the best way to train to qualify for Boston without getting injured?”

All of these questions (and more) are answered in RYBQ in our 20+ videos, thriving members-only forum, and 45+ training lessons. You can rest easy knowing your training will make you a better marathoner.

If you’re interested in knowing when Run Your BQ will be accepting new members, get on the list and we’ll let you know ASAP. I hope to see you on the inside!

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