How Rob Ran an 18 Minute Marathon PR (with no injuries)

by Jason Fitzgerald

Imagine that you’re in great shape. You’re really fit.

So you want to tackle a marathon.

You register and line up on race day… only to hit the wall at mile 20, walk a few miles, and finish much slower than you thought. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Marathon PR

That’s exactly what happened to Rob. After spending 25 years in the Canadian military, he thought he was in top shape to run a marathon. He was fit… right?

Rob succumbed to what I call the Try Everything, Try Nothing approach.

See, popular training advice is hysterically bad – it’s over-generalized and dumbed down to appeal to everyone. There’s no support system to help you achieve more, nor is it part of a cohesive plan geared to your fitness level.

The problem is, most marathoners don’t have great training (but they don’t even know it) because they “tried a little bit of everything” from the articles, books, and websites they read. But this lack of focus prevents real progress.

You try a workout from this article, a core exercise from this website, and an injury prevention tactic from another article. Six weeks later you’ve done a lot of random stuff and you’re in the same spot you started.

It doesn’t help that most of the suggestions you find online at “top” running sites are terrible:

  • “Do speed work on a track!”
  • “Try the standard treatment of RICE when you’re feeling achy…”
  • “Run 400m intervals every other week!”

Dear God…

Recently I was at a USA Track and Field coaching course. A favorite quote from an instructor with more than 25 years experience:

“You need a transition to the workout and then a step to something else.”

In other words, every workout must be part of a logical progression. That’s where cherry-picking workouts, training strategies, and philosophies fails.

“I had no idea what I was doing”

Rob ran his first marathon in 2010 and made all the classic mistakes of a beginner with no training system: he under-trained, went out too fast, and didn’t load up on carbs like he should have.

The result? He finished in 3:55 after walking for a big portion of the last 10k. His time was more than 25 minutes slower than what he needed to qualify for Boston.

His wife found out about Run Your BQ through Matt Frazier’s site No Meat Athlete (Matt is the co-creator of RYBQ) and decided to give it a try. Both Rob and his wife are runners and thought they could use the community to become faster marathoners.

[Note: to find out more about Run Your BQ and get a bunch of free running resources, like how Matt took 100 minutes off his marathon time, just sign up here.]

And they needed the help! Rob remembers his old training:

“My running before joining RYBQ was spotty at best. I really had no idea what I was doing and did not undertand the concept of base mileage. I had none to speak of [before the marathon], did not fuel whatsoever during the run (only water) and made the classic mistake of taking off too fast and thought I was invincible.”

How many of us are in a similar position of being under-trained with no plan?

Slowing Down to Speed Up

The #1 question that I get about Run Your BQ is, “But I’m nowhere near qualifying… I’m slow… Is RYBQ too advanced for me?”

After I laugh (most of our members are HOURS from qualifying, but they’re improving dramatically!), I explain that RYBQ isn’t some military-style bootcamp. We’re all interested in running faster, but having fun is important too!

One of the biggest lessons that Rob learned is that running slow can be really helpful. Actually, it can even make you a lot faster! He remembers:

“The biggest challenge I had was learning how to run slow in order to run fast. It took me awhile to grasp the concept of aerobic and anerobic states. But now, by following Run Your BQ I have naturally become faster on my long distance runs. I cannot thank them enough for getting me on track (pardon the pun) and for making the experience fun.”

Every run is not a key workout. When you prioritize everything, you prioritize nothing. Think that’s profound? –> Click here to tweet it!

Rob started tackling his marathon training with renewed enthusiasm. Run Your BQ helped him take more ownership of his running. Instead of making excuses, now he has the tools he needs to finish his workouts feeling great.

Rob told me:

“RYBQ has certainly changed my running. The change has been profound. I feel full of energy, do not suffer from any injuries and most of all thoroughly enjoy running. It has not become a job.”

That’s so important – enjoying your running. The new features inside Run Your BQ – our member feed, updated forum, and additional videos – all make the process of training more enjoyable.

“I finished with absolutely no difficulties”

After joining Run Your BQ, Rob told me that he had “unfinished business to take care of.” Rob Marathon PR

Last May, Rob returned to the marathon ready to dominate. Here’s what happened in his own words:

“I watched my pace and didn’t get caught up in the hype at the beginning of the race. I ended up running 3:37, taking 18 minutes off of my time. I didn’t bonk when I reached the 20 mile mark but in fact felt great and finished with absolutely no difficulties. In fact the next day I ran an easy 3 km.”

Talk about a complete reversal from his earlier race! He strategically avoided his previous issues with pace and fueling, and stayed patient all the way to the finish line. Rob’s success shows what’s possible when you put your mind to something and use a thriving resource to your advantage.

So what’s next for Rob? He’s entered the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October where he hopes to finally get his BQ time of 3:30. Please join me in wishing him a great race!

Finally, Rob finished up by saying:

“Run Your BQ has opened a whole new world for both my wife and I who is also following the program. RYBQ has made me a stronger runner( and I’m still learning). It has made me a better person where I don’t make excuses but get out and just do it. I would recommed this program without a doubt to anyone out there who wants to become a runner or to improve on their running results.”

To see how RYBQ can help you accomplish your marathon goals (and get some free coaching lessons!), sign up here.

**UPDATE**

Rob completed the Toronto Marathon in a new PR of 3:32:10. He emailed me:

The run started with heavy rains but after a couple of km the rain stopped and out came the heavy humidity. There were also winds of 45 km. At the 40 km mark I was at 3:19 but could not pick up the pace on the last two kms. The previous time I had was 3:37, so this was a new PB of 5 minutes.

Results like this remind me why it’s so rewarding to be a coach! Nice job Rob – good luck with your next race!

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