Skeptic to Believer: How Darin Ran a 3:57 Marathon PR at Age 52

by Jason Fitzgerald

After working with thousands of runners, I’ve come across more skeptics than I ever thought existed.

Runners who insist “that will never work for me!” or “maybe that worked for her… but I’m different.”Run Your BQ

Having “special snowflake syndrome” is common. We think our problems are unique, our situations novel, and our running goals different.

But they’re not.

Truthfully, we’re more similar than different. All of us have the same major goals:

  • Run faster than ever before (i.e., set a new personal best or qualify for a particular race)
  • Run with fewer injuries (i.e., finally get healthy – and stay that way)
  • Be more consistent with our running

Almost all of our goals can fit into one of these categories.

Training strategies are also nearly universal. But how many of us have said:

That training program won’t work for me. I’m just not sure about it…

I’m not sure how I’d incorporate XYZ into my current training.

The program sounds too structured…

I’m not sure if these training strategies will work because I’m [a trail runner]… [a new runner]… [a veteran runner]…

While we’re all different runners, the beauty of training is that it’s universal. You can train just like an elite runner – as long as you scale everything back. Training strategies that work for runners like me also work for runners like you – and the results are substantial.

But most runners are self-sabotaging themselves. There’s often a program or service available to them that would help them reach ALL of their goals… but they take no action. They do nothing and prevent themselves from succeeding.

It takes work to do something different – and that’s hard. But it’s almost always worth it. And the rewards are much higher than doing nothing.

Meet Darin, a RYBQ Skeptic

Darin used to be a skeptic who questioned whether he could do different training. He’s a recent Run Your BQ member (want to learn more? Check this out) and has an interesting story to share with you.Darin_Running

Have you ever asked yourself, “Will that work for me? Why would I do that? That’s only for fast runners!” That’s what Darin asked himself.

You see, his first marathon was in 2001 for his 40th birthday. He ran a respectable 4:16, but things went downhill from there. He ran several more marathons over the years, but his times got progressively worse as he dealt with chronic injuries and struggled through post-marathon recovery.

That’s when he joined Run Your BQ. He told me:

When I started RYBQ I was skeptical of the volume of running, the warm-up and post-run exercises, and the strength work.

I thought, “why do you include so much dynamic stretching before and after every run?”  Further, I didn’t see how a “strength routine” could be effective without using any weights.

Darin was skeptical about the cost of the program and whether it would actually work for him. But with lifetime access and RYBQ’s sole mission to help marathoners become faster marathoners, he was sold. He remembers:

The fact that I could use the program forever was the selling point that pushed me over the cost barrier. I joined RYBQ because I needed a change in my running if I was going to improve and potentially qualify for Boston.

Once he joined, Darin admittedly struggled with the program. The extra strength exercises, mileage, and workouts included in his training plan aren’t necessarily easy. But he knew that if he wanted to improve his marathon time, he needed to do something different.

Instead of poking around the RYBQ site and deciding it wasn’t for him, he committed to the program. Even though it would have been easy to say “this feels overwhelming – I’m just not there yet.” Not taking a good risk is how you stagnate!

So Darin chose a plan from the training plan library that challenged him but wasn’t impossible. Like I always remind Run Your BQ members during our private Coach’s Chat webinars, taking the next step is how you keep improving. Darin told me:

Regardless of my skepticism, I committed to following the training program exactly as it was laid out. When I started I found I could barely complete the warm-up! The day after I was so sore that I could barely run.  The other routines were equally awakening to both my flexibility and strength.

Stronger, Faster, and Energized

Even though Darin was skeptical of Run Your BQ, he knew that it was a vetted program with hundreds of members who are running faster marathons. So he stuck with it despite being unsure whether he could finish every workout.

His main focus was following the plan, even when the mileage increases made him concerned about his 52-year old body making it through the workouts:

My top challenge was wrapping my head around doing more mileage. I always got injured when my mileage increased. My body just couldn’t take doing more than 30-35 miles a week. I jumped into the Intermediate-High Mileage program and couldn’t believe I would get to 55 miles a week.

But usually the loudest voice telling us we can’t do something is our own. Instead of continuing to be a skeptic and think “I just can’t do that – I’m not that kind of runner,” Darin stuck with it and started seeing incredible progress:

Each and every day I found myself feeling a little better after the warm-up. After 2-3 miles I would be energized and feeling solid. As the weeks went by, I could do lunges and feel STRONG. I found I could push the sprints a little harder. I found the hills a little less steep!

The best part was that my body adapted so positively to the added volume as a result of the exercises included in RYBQ. I never thought my body could handle 55 miles per week but it did!

Darin believed in himself – and pushed himself to do training he never thought was possible. Coaching puts me in this position all the time and I have to remind runners that each and every one of us are capable of more than we think.

But the majority of us keep doing the same things, over and over again. Well, how’s that working? Is your running where you want it to be?

After working with thousands of runners, I can tell you this: the top problem we have is holding ourselves back. It’s time to believe in your ability, work harder than before, and run a lot faster than before. You can do this, too – even if you’re older or a total beginner.

A New Personal Best – 13 Years Later!

BreastCancerMarathon2014 (397x400)

Thirteen years after he ran 4:16 marathon, Darin was preparing to run the Breast Cancer Marathon. And he never felt so good:

I delightfully discovered at the end of the program that I had gotten much stronger with my runs, the stretches, and the strength exercises. I felt more prepared for my race than I had ever felt going into a marathon.

Nearly 13 years after my first marathon and at 52 years old, I beat my previous PR and went under 4 hours for the first time ever. When I was approaching the finish line and saw that I was going to beat my previous PR, I just smiled.

36 hours after the race, I’m only slightly sore.

Can you imagine setting a substantial new personal best and finally breaking the 4-hour time barrier 13 years after your previous PR?! 

Darin’s success is transformative. He’s no longer the same runner as he once was. Now, instead of being stuck in a chronic injury cycle and struggling with recovery after his marathons, he’s flourishing.

Imagine only slight soreness after a PR marathon. Imagine what it feels like to break 4:00 at age 52 – after more than a decade of attempts. And Darin did it all after being a Run Your BQ member for a few short months. What do you think he’ll accomplish in the next six months?

He knows that he still has a lot of hard work in front of him. But he’s optimistic:

I still have significant time to take off the clock to hit my BQ but the Breast Cancer Marathon on Sunday gave me the confidence to think it is possible!

And of course, Darin’s success isn’t unique. Many RYBQ members are experiencing similar stories – personal bests, injury-free training, and more confidence in their running.

Finally, Darin has this suggestion:

My results should be typical for anyone wanting to improve their marathon time. I highly recommend RYBQ to anyone wanting to reach a new level of distance running whether their goal is qualifying for Boston, setting a new PR, or learning how to run injury-free.

Does that sound like you? Sign up here to learn more about Run Your BQ!

Join me in congratulating Darin on his enormous success. The RYBQ family is very proud of you Darin – keep up the good work and we’ll see you on our next Coach’s Chat webinar!

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Sarah Cooper

I’m somewhat new to running (at least to regular running), so it obviously took me a while to figure out what I’m doing wrong and whether my mistakes are for the better or not. Risks are an absolute must if you want to push your body further and further, but all within reasonable limits.
It’s always great to hear a inspirational story like this one. Good job, Darin!

Patricia Layman

Darin,
I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration to many, thank you for your support in the breast cancer marathon. Love you. Mom

Richard layman

Good job, sounds like you are satisfied with your results, I am very proud of you, especially, the end results of less injuries, and better recovery, afterwards. Love dad

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