Isn’t it odd how some runners see massive success while others flounder and never reach their potential?
See, the difference between a “good” runner and someone who stagnates, running the same times over and over again without ever seeing progress is that good runners take more initiative. They take action and ownership over their training.
You’ll never hear good runners say:
“I’m confused – and I’ve been confused for months! I just can’t find the plan that will really work for me and get me to my goals.”
“Everything out there is too generic for me.”
“I don’t know what to do next. I have big dreams but I stop at every little sign of discomfort.”
I’m not really into “woo woo feel-good” hocus pocus. If you want Nana to give you some fresh baked cookies, you can go ask her.
But here, I’m going to tell you how to become a better runner so you can reach your goals: lose weight, get a great PR, or beat an injury. The problem with runners who constantly whine about never understanding their own training is that they never take the right steps to succeed.
They’ll get a simple stock training plan – and wonder why their race times plateau.
They’ll read 100 running blogs and every magazine out there – but never implement what they learn in a coherent, systematic plan.
They’ll spend all their time looking for that one “secret training strategy” that will finally make them faster. Here’s a tip: none exist.
They’ll even join a comprehensive, supportive marathon training group…and only participate a handful of times, never asking for help with their running.
My goal with Strength Running is to help passionate runners – those who love the sport, want to work hard, and actively improve their running. That’s why I don’t accept every runner in my 1-on-1 coaching program. I filter runners who just want more training porn and never do anything with it.
So when I am able to help passionate runners, I’m thrilled. I’m ecstatic. It makes me so excited to work with runners who are more into running than I am (yeah right!).
Today, I want to share Tim’s story about how he struggled with direction and getting slower. He didn’t know what to do and made a lot of mistakes. But he turned his running around, took action, and ended up running a huge PR in the 5k.
Tim is truly inspirational – not only because of his dramatic improvement, but because after years of partying, eating whatever he wanted, and no exercise he weighed 220 pounds.
“I saw my father’s health problems and wanted to change for my kids”
Tim got in touch with me in May for a custom training plan. His goal was to run a fast 5k in less than 20 minutes – which requires an average pace of at least 6:26 per mile. Not an easy feat!
But before you say, “Tim seems naturally talented. There’s NO WAY I could do that,” know this: Tim used to be a big guy, weighing about 220 pounds and rarely exercised. He told me:
I am the last person any of my friends would have picked to be buying a race plan. I partied through college and continued afterward. My weight steadily increased with the amount of beer and bad food I ate. My father is a big guy and has the typical health problems associated with being overweight. I saw this as my future and wanted to change for my kids so they would have an example of how to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
There’s not much else more motivating than setting a good example for your children. So Tim started working out and eating better in March of 2010. By the end of the year he lost 40 pounds.
Then he started running and training for his first half marathon. He lost another 20 pounds. As soon as he started training for that race, he was hooked. After his race he finished a marathon less than a year later. He’s even thinking about a 50k in 2013. But it wasn’t a fairy tale the entire time. Tim remembers:
“It wasn’t easy; no one around me was doing any running or dieting. So while they ordered wings and beer it was salad and water for me.”
Since he started eating healthy and running, Tim has lost over 60 pounds. He’s able to keep his weight steady and balance some fun and indulgence with ordinary discipline.
Now that he’s hooked on running, he started thinking about time goals. After some initial success, Tim wasn’t seeing the progress he was looking for. He was confused.
“Each week was different…I wasn’t focused”
After his first half marathon, Tim decided to train on his own for the rest of the year. He ran his second half marathon months later but ran a disappointing 5 minutes slower.
“Before my PR Race Plan, my running was sporadic at best. I took what I knew from plans at the local running store, what I read in magazines or online, and what other runners told me. Each was different and I wasn’t focused. I knew I needed a plan to follow if I was going to hit my 5k goal.”
Tim realized he needed a more systematic approach. One that was focused on his particular needs and customized to his goal of breaking 20 minutes in the 5k.
Before he committed to improving his training, his runs were all different and none of them had purpose. He wasn’t sure what to do and his running reflected that – and so did his results. So he pulled the trigger and bought a training plan even though he had to convince his wife it was an early Father’s Day gift.
“The PR Race Plan was a focused, customized plan where each run had a purpose. I also liked not having to worry about it – I was able to put the plan creation in someone else’s hands. All I needed to do was be disciplined and follow it. I felt more confident with the race plan.”
He found that the transition to his new training plan wasn’t hard. Tim prefers a structured plan so that was perfect for his needs. He knew the value in his plan’s strength training and other ancillary work so he made the time to get it done.
Tim also worked hard to go easy on his easy days. Almost every runner wants to attack each run, so it’s important to remind yourself that a hard day is just around the corner! Easy days are meant to be easy.
Getting a Boost – Physically and Mentally
So, how’d Tim end up running in his 5k? I think pretty damn well! I reached out to Tim and asked him what the results were. Here’s what he had to say:
“First, hhmmm… how about crushing my goal of running sub-20 in the 5k by running 19:24?! I also felt confident when I toed the line and didn’t have any inkling of an injury during the 12 weeks leading up to the race. Racing can be as much mental as it is physical so having that confidence, knowing I put in the work and followed the plan to get me ready for that moment, was a huge boost.”
I’m so excited for Tim! He accomplished a lot in just 12 short weeks.
How many of us squander months of running with excuses and bad decisions? It’s amazing to me what you can accomplish in such a short period of time when you commit and put your mind to something.
There are important lesson that we can all learn from Tim’s experience:
- Access to running information online or in magazines doesn’t make you faster – using that information appropriately does.
- Easy runs should be easy!
- Putting your money where your mouth is and buying a plan can make you more committed.
- You need more than running – overall strength and general fitness can help you reach your goals.
- Dedication to a plan (and believing in it) are what really matter. Don’t second guess yourself.
- Every run should have a purpose and work together with the other weekly workouts
Finally, Tim recounted his experience with his custom-built training plan and offers a suggestion:
“I’d definitely recommend the PR Race Plan. It’s customized to meet your specific goals and background so you know it will fit you. Plus, it’s more than just ‘run x miles on x day.’ The strength workouts, warm-up and cool-down routines, videos, etc. show you how to perform everything. You cannot get this with a standard, one-size-fits-all plan. But most importantly, it’s the confidence you feel on race day.”
I know that personalized training plans work because I see the results from them. But I think it’s helpful to hear these inspiring stories from other runners so you know what’s possible.
Overweight? You can still lose the pounds.
Slow? You can still get fast.
In a rut? It’s never too late to turn it all around!
I want to thank Tim for his willingness to share his story, race results, and the small pieces of his life that I’m sure are so motivating to other runners. I’m very grateful!
If you’re curious how much you could accomplish with a custom race plan, learn more about the PR Race Plan here.
Get the Strength Running PR Guide ebook and tips to run faster (without the injuries).