Now that I’m firmly entrenched in my mid-30’s, I can confidently say that even my 17-month old is cooler than me.
Luckily, I haven’t cared about “cool” since 2001 when I embraced split-leg short shorts and the benefits of my lithe 125-pound frame.
Now, my focus is on other things like being a running coach, blogger, freelance writer, social media “influencer” (whatever that means), speaker, and now podcaster.
Wearing these different hats and speaking with literally tens of thousands of athletes has given me quite the perspective on what it takes to be a successful runner.
I’ve also seen many similar “story arcs” happen over and over again. At the beginning of one of these arcs, I can practically predict the future.
Here are some examples:
- A runner doesn’t do any strength work and likes to race every weekend. My prediction: they’ll likely get injured very soon.
- A runner wants to lose weight and train for a PR at the same time. My prediction: they’ll probably fail at both goals.
- A runner wants to run her first marathon in 12 weeks (her current long run is 8 miles). My prediction: injury or a disappointing race.
I consider my real job to steer runners away from dumb mistakes (like these) and help them train more intelligently. When that happens, the results are telling.
Today, a story arc that you might be familiar with…
You start running, enter your first race and before long you’ve fallen in love with running.
So you start pushing a little harder, running a little longer, and decide to follow a generic training plan you found online to get ready for your next race.
But suddenly, inexplicably, you’re injured – despite your best intentions.
The cycle continues: rest, some foam rolling, and then starting from scratch (again). Rinse and repeat.
Soon, you’re wondering if running and training for longer races just isn’t worth the effort…
Andrea Felt Stuck in the Injury Cycle
Andrea faced this same cycle time and time again. She started racing and trusted that a stock training plan would help her continue to improve.
But after spending months building up her fitness, she would get injured and the recovery time would take her back to square one. She was understandably frustrated with her lack of progress.
Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, right? So Andrea decided it was time to try a new approach: a custom training plan to help her prepare for an upcoming 15k.
She told me:
The reason I bought a custom training plan is because I was so tired of using plans I would randomly find online that would always result in me getting injured. I would literally not go more than six months to a year without an injury. I was tired of building myself up to a certain speed and weekly mileage only to get injured and lose all of my hard work and fitness!
If you’re a long-time reader, you know that consistency is the “secret sauce” to success.
While many things conspire against training consistency, injuries are the most common reason runners are unable to stay physically consistent – and their progress inevitably stalls.
Once you’re trapped in the injury cycle, your confidence may also begin to wane. It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that you’ll never get healthy and never get faster when you keep struggling with one injury after another.
This rang true for Andrea. She began to doubt her training and her ability to improve.
So, how did she turn it all around?
“I want to be a success story too!”
Fortunately, Andrea was inspired by other runners who had broken their injury cycle:
Reading personal success stories on the SR website was very inspiring to me and made me believe that could be me too! I run to stay fit and healthy and I wanted to be a success story too!
But she was also worried about the cost. Many generic plans are free – but they often come with hidden costs of reduced performance, higher chance of injury, and lost confidence.
At first I didn’t want to waste money on a plan that would not work for me, but nonetheless I gave in and bought the plan … I knew the first week I started the PR race plan I was wrong; this plan is worth every penny!
While some runners are able to do just fine with a generic training plan, for most they are fraught with problems:
- They don’t consider your fitness level (from your running to overall athleticism and experience in other sports)
- They lack customization. Workouts are not tailored to you – instead, they’re “one size fits all” sessions that appeal to an extremely broad cross-section of runners
- They only focus on running! A Strength Running plan includes dynamic stretching routines, core workouts, and strength work to help you get stronger.
Andrea was ready for a change. Prior to her PR Race Plan, Andrea admits that she was often frustrated, felt like giving up, and she continued to worry about impending injuries.
My running before the PR Race Plan was random at best; I could not run more than 5 miles without having a “meltdown” which would force me to walk and want to give up.
The PR Race Plan gave me peace of mind that my risk of injury was very low if I followed the plan which resulted in me building the confidence for me to run faster and longer.
But as Andrea got started with her training, she noticed things felt different. Rather than being overwhelmed by her runs and worrying that a new injury was just around the corner, things seemed to be falling into place.
The gradual, systematic progression of her plan made sense and her confidence continued to grow.
I have to say I did not have one meltdown during the plan! And for me that’s very surprising and unbelievable! My running buddy is simply amazed at how much my running has improved.
Just what I like to hear!
New Challenges… And a Massive PR
Andrea faced some challenges in the early stages of her training plan (don’t worry, that’s normal!).
Since most stock plans don’t show you exactly how to get stronger and warm up properly, Andrea had to make some adjustments to her routine.
The challenges were getting used to the warm-ups before running and the strength exercises after the run; I was used to barely stretching before and after obviously that wasn’t working for me very well as I would always get injured.
But as I stuck to the plan week after week the warm up and cool downs became a habit!
As with any new adjustment, sticking with it long enough to create a habit is key to your long-term success. Andrea did just that.
Her willingness to put in the extra time and effort paid off this past October, when she ran the same 15k she had run the previous year.
This time, however, it was different. She started the race confident and injury free, and finished with a 5-minute PR!
Suddenly, the possibilities opened up for Andrea. And now, with her new confidence, there may even be a marathon in her future.
Never Underestimate Confidence
Consistency over months and years of training is essential to ongoing improvement. And that kind of consistency is impossible without staying injury free in the process.
Andrea’s PR is impressive, but even more important is the confidence she gained from her success.
She listed her top three positive results from her training plan as:
Without confidence, the speed and endurance that result from any training plan will remain tentative at best.
By making a commitment to her training with a personalized plan, Andrea invested in her running as well as long-term confidence. Her new outlook is the key to happy, successful running!
And she couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the results:
I would definitely recommend all of your services to everyone … never have I PR’d by 5 mins and the PR plan made this a reality!
Not only did I improve my speed and endurance it helped build my confidence up! And made me realize that anything is possible!!
Do you want to be SR’s next success story? It’s possible. Learn more about getting a personal training plan for yourself.