Are you looking for “secrets” to faster running? Use this strategy instead

by Jason Fitzgerald

I love reading the internet’s most popular running websites because they’re hilariously terrible.

You’ll read things like:

“10 weeks to your fastest marathon!”

“Discover everyday nutrition secrets for high energy levels!”

“With speed work, you will run faster. That is guaranteed.”

It’s appalling.

Guaranteed Marathon Success

Let’s disspell this conventional (or is it?) advice:

  • 10 weeks is not nearly enough time to adequately train for a marathon for the majority of runners. Marathon prep in just 10 weeks would require you to already be in great shape before you started training.
  • There are no nutrition “secrets,” just a few diet best practices and a recommendation to eat real food. I highly suggest any book by Michael Pollan if you’re interested in diet and nutrition.
  • How do you define speed work? Is it right for every runner? How do you know?

The sad truth about these claims is that they’re generic, bloated in their truthfulness, and just untrue in most cases. One of my personal pet peeves is that I hate when coaches, websites, or anybody “guarantees” something with distance running.

Let me quote one of my favorite movies, Tommy Boy, on guarantees:

A guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside. Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter. How do you know the fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” says the little fairy; well, we’re not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that’s all it takes. The next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser, and your daughter’s knocked up. I seen it a hundred times.

Guarantees that you’ll run faster, lose weight, or qualify for Boston are worthless. Many non-running factors influence your training like sleep, stress, work obligations, family life, and personal events. It’s impossible to know if you’ll actually reach your goals – instead, you just need to set yourself up with the best possible system for success.

If anybody ever guarantees anything about health or fitness for you, run for the hills because it’s not true.

It Takes Systems to Be a Good Runner

The systems that you put in place are what help you accomplish your goals – not fancy guarantees. Good runners always have certain “hacks” or shortcuts that allow them to get in their workouts and hold them accountable.

Here are a few that I use:

  • My motivation is highest in the morning, so I almost always run in the morning. I make excuses in the afternoon.
  • To save time and ensure I do my most important tasks (like running, writing, and strength work), I cancelled my cable. I didn’t just “try harder” to not watch TV.
  • I post monthly training journals because I know that holds me accountable for getting in my workouts.
  • To make sure I’m always challenging myself with running, I talk with friends and previous coaches about my training.

Too many athletes leave their training to chance. Small systems ensure that you run your workouts, are held accountable, and continue challenging yourself.

Recently Vic Magary posted a great article on how to reach your fitness goals and he outlined three seemingly simple steps:

  1. Set a deadline (like register for a race)
  2. Put your money where your mouth is (like buy a marathon program)
  3. Use social pressure (like join a community of like-minded runners who encourage you)

It’s simple, but how many of us spend hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on Garmin watches, new shoes, and fancy running gear when those things don’t actually make you a better runner.

Create More Systems in Your Training

Run Your BQ is so successful because it uses multiple systems tied into one marathon training and coaching program.

— Our live coaching chats answer your personal questions and keep you motivated.

— The members-only forum holds you accountable and lets you use social pressure to continue training.

— Our knowledge base of videos, text lessons, and audio clips make sure you’re always challenging yourself.

— Multiple marathon training plans (and post-marathon recovery schedules) give you peace of mind that your training is rock solid.

Matt Frazier and I created Run Your BQ to help runners experience the thrill of qualifying for Boston like we have in the past. Qualifying is an unbelievable feeling and one of my proudest running memories. Knowing that I earned a spot on the starting line in Hopkinton next year is amazing.

Our runners are already transforming their training. Here’s what one current member said:

RYBQ is a great help and a great motivation to keep aiming for higher levels. Between the information published so far by Matt & Jason and the different members sharing their wide range of experiences & stories, the experience had a very positive effect on my training.

With different people sharing their progress and successes, this will be even a bigger motivator to keep training hard. There is no one local that I know of who is training for a marathon let alone for BQ, so I mostly train alone. So this site and community is very uplifting in my case. – E.Fahmy

Qualifying and successfully registering for the Boston Marathon is getting more and more difficult. But it’s a worthy goal and we want to help you accomplish the challenge of getting your BQ.

If you’re ready to create more systems in your running to help you succeed, sign up to our RYBQ email list and we’ll let you know as soon as we’re open.

Do you have any questions about Run Your BQ? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure I answer every one.

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Candace Lang

Absolutely spot on! Yes, there are some websites that tend to sugar-coat some truths about marathon training programs, plans, nutrition, etc. But, I believe there are some who are actually legit and the programs they offer really work.

I guess it depends on the athlete all together. What do you think?

Oh and I love your courage of having your cable connection cut – how I wish I could be brave enough like you.

Thanks for this post!

Jason

Absolutely – the best training is usually very personalized.

Kris

And it’s not just that some people promise shortcuts, some just come across as either “less than expert” or seem to be way to technical. Even though you’re at a much higher level than I am, you still give really practical advice. Can’t beat that!

Jason

Why thank you Kris :)

Jeff Gaudette

Great post, Jason. I wish I could accurately express the anger (and sometimes chuckles) I get when I read my Twitter feed in the morning since I follow a lot of the big names in the running industry (you know who I am talking about here). I feel it’s such a disservice to runners to downplay the importance of long-term, consistent, and intelligent training. Best of luck with the Run your BQ site!

Joe Marruchella

Jason – just a great post this morning. Thanks for all that you do. I think the consistency part is truly key. Being able to stay healthy, not miss training time and keep your mileage up when you are not truly “training” for a marathon to me is critical. I typically only max out at 70-75 mpw during marathon training as a 45 year-old runner. But being able to stay at 55-60 mpw all year allows me to hit my 18 week marathon training cycle on all cylinders. I don’t have a large “build-up” stage where injuries can often occur.

Stay healthy, stay consistent = get faster. There are no shortcuts.

Jason Fitzgerald

That’s a great strategy Joe – and one that I do as well! Keep it up man, good luck.

Trent

Love this post. I loved the Michael Pollan book. When will Run Your BQ be accepting new members?

Jason Fitzgerald

Hey Trent. Sooner than you think :) And we have a few surprises in store for everyone too!

Tony

Jason, this article has made it seem as though the running community is very supportive, especially to new runners. The info here for me was a good because I am trying to learn how to run better. This article will keep me from setting goals to high and allowing the “10 week” plan to discourage me. I am a new runner looking for what works best for me.

Thank you,
Tony
Chester, NH

Jason Fitzgerald

Glad it helped Tony. We are indeed a supportive bunch!

Billy

All true in my experience, Jason. Reminds me of something Frank Shorter said many years ago. Can’t remember the other person’s comment, but Frank’s reply was something to the effect that, and I am paraphrasing… “You don’t run 26 miles at under 5 minute per mile pace on good looks and a secret formula.” Running is a very honest sport. You get out exactly what you put in. No politics, judges or any other subjective aspects about it. First person to the finish line wins. Period. Or, if you are simply competing against yourself, the only person who can defeat you is, you. I love running for all those reasons, and more.

Billy
the old guy
blogsbyqwerty.com

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